Express & Star

Ollie Watkins gives Unai Emery team meeting insight ahead of Aston Villa's win over Arsenal

Ollie Watkins explained how Villa boss Unai Emery prepared his players for Sunday’s 2-0 win at Arsenal by holding three team meetings earlier in the day.


Villa delivered a tactical masterclass to stun the Gunners and earn a victory which dented the home side’s Premier League title chances while bolstering their own hopes of securing a top-four finish.

Emery has now won three of his five meetings with Arsenal, the club he managed for 18 months between 2018 and 2019.

And striker Watkins revealed how the meticulous Spaniard, who is known for holding lengthy pre-match meetings, left his players in no doubt of the gameplan during a series of briefings prior to kick-off.

Villa faced Lille in the Europa Conference League on Thursday night, less than 72 hours before kick-off at the Emirates.

Watkins said: “We have a lot of meetings. We had three on Sunday to drill in what we need to do.

“Everyone knew what we needed to do going onto the pitch. We frustrated them. I could see they were getting a little bit tired. Even though we played Thursday night I feel like we had the legs on them.”

Asked if it was unusual to have so many meetings on the day of a match, Watkins replied: “Normally we have one the day before the game but we trained a little bit later on Saturday night because of preparation from the Lille game.

“It is a congested fixture list. It is full on but it gets us up for it and it is a very clear structure of what we are going to do when we go on the pitch.”

Watkins scored his 26th goal of the season in all competitions to seal Villa’s victory, three minutes after substitute Leon Bailey had opened the scoring.

Emery’s men next face Lille in the second leg of their Conference League tie in France on Thursday, before hosting Bournemouth in the Premier League on Sunday.