Emiliano Martinez targets a positive run-in for Aston Villa

Emiliano Martinez has urged his Villa team-mates to keep their heads up as he targets a strong finish to the season.

Wolverhampton Wanderers' Conor Coady (left) sees his shot saved by Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez
Wolverhampton Wanderers' Conor Coady (left) sees his shot saved by Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez

A run of just two wins in nine matches has seen Villa’s hopes of European qualification fade but goalkeeper Martinez believes there remains plenty to play for over the remaining eight games.

Dean Smith’s team, beaten 2-1 at champions Liverpool on Saturday, next host runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City a week tomorrow.

Martinez said: “I told them (my team-mates) after the Liverpool game we have to pick our heads up. We defended really well.

“Hopefully we can finish strong. What positives can we take? The way we defend. I think the unit is getting better and better. We are starting to know each other more and hopefully next season we will do even better.”

Martinez has been among Villa’s standout performers since joining in a £20million move from Arsenal last summer.

The 28-year-old has kept 14 clean sheets, the second-most in the Premier League behind City’s No.1 Ederson.

But he is currently enduring his longest wait for a shutout with Villa have conceded in each of their last four matches.

That included a last-minute winner at Anfield on Saturday as Trent Alexander-Arnold snatched the points for Liverpool.

Martinez said: “I didn’t think we deserved to lose. We played really well and defended as a unit.

“They got a bit lucky with the first goal. We had chances to go ahead again but didn’t take them and maybe our game management was a little bit poor at times.

“They got lucky with a good finish at the end. It is disappointing.

“My job is to keep the first one out and then hopefully we clear it. The first one went straight to Mo Salah’s head which was unbelievable. I got a really good hand to it.

“The second one we cleared and Alexander-Arnold has taken a touch in the middle of the goal and smashed it into the corner. It was quite difficult to save that one. But credit to the team. I thought we did really well. It is not an easy place to go and I thought we deserved more than a draw.”

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