Express & Star

Unai Emery tells Aston Villa to keep cool and enjoy the Premier League run-in

Unai Emery has told Villa’s players to enjoy every moment as they chase glory in the Premier League and Europe over the next two months.


Saturday’s derby with Wolves kicks off a potentially era-defining period for Emery’s team, who are in pursuit of Champions League qualification and through to the quarter-finals of the Europa Conference League.

Emery is eager for players to keep their emotions in check, referencing John McGinn’s red card against Tottenham earlier this month as the kind of moment they must avoid.

Yet by and large, the Spaniard is satisfied with how they have handled the pressure of competing at the top end of the table.

“The control of emotion is very important,” he explained. “We have some moments, some doubts how we could manage our emotions. There were some circumstances I didn’t like but as a team we have to manage them.

“The experience we are taking is very important. It’s not only a mentality to be competitive and prepare to win, it’s how we manage the emotions.

“Now we are in the moment, the message is: Enjoy. Focus on the enjoyment, working and enjoy gathering here, in the hotel and the dressing-room.

“Respect each team, each competition and play with discipline. We try to play seriously, disciplined – disturb nothing – but control your emotions, even losing, because we showed we were able to come back from some results in those difficult moments.

“Of course, if we are winning, keep going but enjoy.”

McGinn will miss the second of three matches this evening through suspension after being dismissed for a heavy challenge on Destiny Udogie during Villa’s 4-0 loss to Spurs.

Asked which moments had displeased him, Emery replied: “The red cards. We accept it. Even John McGinn, he knows this is the moment he doesn’t want to repeat.

“I like the way we are doing things 95 per cent of the time. The mentality they are showing in the processes we are doing, the focus on how we want to build a team.”

Fourth-placed Villa enter the weekend with a three-point lead over Tottenham in the table and Emery played down any concern at his team’s hectic schedule compared to their rivals.

Villa, who face Lille in the Europa Conference League last eight, have already played more matches (43) than Spurs will in the entire season.

But Emery believes that is merely the challenge which comes with success.

He said: “The biggest teams in the world are playing a lot of matches. If we want to take the next step and step up to the next level we have to play as many matches as those teams.

“That is the only way I know – and I like to play matches – I like to play a lot!

“To increase our level we have to accept we might play 55, 56, 57 games – hopefully, more and more.”

Emery will make a late decision on Jacob Ramsey’s involvement against Wolves after the midfielder’s return to training this week following a foot injury.

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