Express & Star

Unai Emery's Aston Villa warning about challenges ahead

Unai Emery is refusing to get carried away with his record-equalling Villa side, insisting there are big challenges ahead when they return after the international break.

Aston Villa's John McGinn (right) goes down from a challenge

Today’s 3-1 win against Fulham made it 13 successive league wins at Villa Park, equalling the post-war record, and kept the team fifth in the Premier League table within striking distance of those above.

For Emery, talk of finishing in the Champions League positions has regularly been downplayed, and while he accepts he is going to enjoy the moment, he is also focused on what improvements can be made.

“We are fifth after 12 games but there are a lot of matches to play,” he said.

“There are seven teams still being contenders to be in the top seven.

“We are now in the day 12 and there are still 26 matches to play.

“Of course, to be consistent is the most important when you’re trying to build a team and a strong structure and a mentality.

“We can maintain the position we are in now, but I think it will be very difficult and I think each match will be a challenge.

“We are in the top five and I think this is the moment to enjoy and to be happy - we are going to analyse deeply, even now winning, how we can improve and how we can keep being consistent.

“When we come back, we have to play some top four teams and there are big challenges to face.

“That will be difficult but we want to improve things.”

Villa had to go again this afternoon on the back of Thursday’s Europa Conference win against AZ Alkmaar, and their second half performance didn’t match the intensity of the first.

But they still resisted Fulham’s improvement to keep a healthy cushion to secure the three points.

“Each match is giving us a lot of information,” added Emery.

“In each circumstance we are trying to adapt, improving the players, improving our tactical work.

“The first half was very good - we created chances, but overall we controlled the game, avoiding the transition, avoiding their attack and it was fantastic.

“But the second half was harder than the first half because they scored one goal and they had chances.

“After the goal, we were winning 3-1 but we reacted very well, trying again to keep control of the game.

And we did it.

“That is a mentality - when we are, when we aren't or in trouble, always try to keep balance, always try to control our minds and be focused on our game plan and that is the process.”