Express & Star

Aston Villa boss Unai Emery: My players deserve to be in massive battle

Unai Emery believes Aston Villa fully deserve to be in contention for a top-four finish and has urged his squad to grasp the opportunity of securing Champions League football.

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Aston Villa manager Unai Emery

Villa could take a big step towards clinching fourth spot on Saturday night with victory at home to inconsistent Chelsea.

After a mixed run of form at the end of March and start of April, Villa have bounced back with key wins over Arsenal and Bournemouth to open up a six-point gap to fifth-placed Tottenham, albeit Spurs have two matches in hand.

With fifth place no longer guaranteeing English clubs another route into the Champions League, Emery is aware of what is at stake despite being forced to juggle domestic duties with an upcoming Europa Conference League semi-final.

"Amazing motivation we have in front (of us), but realistic as well because I think we deserve to be contenders now to get it," Emery told reporters.

"Five months ago, four months ago, three months ago, even one month ago, you were asking the same, 'if we were contenders to be in the top seven teams or in the Champions League?' I was always saying the same message, 'we weren't'.