Unai Emery reckons soaring Aston Villa are still to peak
Unai Emery believes the best is still to come from Villa as they look to follow up Wednesday’s stunning win over Manchester City against Arsenal.
The Premier League leaders will arrive at Villa Park on Saturday evening with Emery urging his players to dig deep and deliver an encore performance in a match he has branded their toughest test of the season to date.
Villa kick-off against the Gunners less than 68 hours after leaving the pitch having beaten reigning champions City 1-0 with a display branded the club’s best in several decades.
Yet Emery has taken little notice of any plaudits and insists there are still areas his team can improve as they target a club 15th consecutive home league win, which would move them to within a point of the visitors.
“I don’t have a lot of time to read about the matches we have played,” he said. “The most important thing is to analyse with the players and coaches and try to focus on the next match, with everything we did well and things we can improve and things we didn’t do the way I want.
“That is the most focus now – trying to get the best analysis to share and to try to deliver our best against Arsenal, improving things we did on Wednesday, even playing like we played.
“It is my challenge every day, to be better today than yesterday and better tomorrow than today. I am not going to stop.”
While Emery believes the Gunners are worthy of their position at the summit, his biggest challenge may be in getting players who invested so much energy on Wednesday doing so again with such a turnaround in what is Villa’s fifth match in 14 days.
For that reason, the primary focus of the past two days has been on rest, with the boss scheduling the first full training session since the City match for Friday afternoon to allow more time for recovery.
“That is the most important thing, to rest,” said Emery. “The players have to sleep, to eat good food.
“There will be more time to rest, of course after the match tomorrow, on Sunday and Monday.
“Now, the work is to sleep. Then later of course we will train, prepare for the match and be focused.”
Asked if he had been sleeping OK, during what has been a hectic fortnight following the international break, Emery laughed: “Yes! I sleep. Not like the players, because I don’t need it like them.
“They sleep hours. I need to take energy again and recover it for today and tomorrow.”
Villa’s tally of 32 points from their first 15 matches is the same as Leicester when they won the title in the 2015-16 season. While Emery yesterday repeated his belief it will require another 15 matches to determine whether Villa are contenders for a top four finish, he is happy for supporters to keep dreaming big.
“We have to dream always,” he said. “I am dreaming and sometimes my dreams are very important for me as it’s an aspiration to get my best.”
Emery continued: “I am trying to always be in a good balance, when people are speaking about me with a lot of praise.
“When I am receiving criticism too, I try to keep that balance. When we are winning and playing well, of course it is amazing and we have to enjoy it but always knowing there is another challenge coming.
“I want to win tomorrow as well and play at the high level we did on Wednesday. But the challenge gets more difficult progressively as we try to keep our mentality, our improvement, our challenges.”