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Aston Villa's Unai Emery will not play the blame game

Unai Emery believes a “no excuses” culture has helped keep Villa’s Champions League challenge on track.

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Emery’s fourth-placed team visit Luton on Saturday evening to kick-off a huge week in their campaign, which continues with the first leg of their European Conference League tie against Ajax on Thursday, before a huge showdown with Tottenham next Sunday.

Villa started the weekend with a five-point cushion over the London club, despite Emery having to regularly change his line-up and tactics due to a series of injuries.

Calum Chambers, previously deemed surplus to requirements, could make his first Premier League start of the season at Kenilworth Road in defence with Diego Carlos definitely out and Ezri Konsa and Pau Torres both doubts.

Yet Emery has rejected every opportunity to bemoan his team’s luck and tells his players they must do the same.

“When we can use or find and excuse, it is a mistake,” said the Villa boss. “Every team will have injuries and bad moments with players, every team will have better and worse moments.

“We are going to try and focus with the players we have in the squad being confident and believing. If not, we made a mistake. When we are preparing in pre-season with 25 players in the squad it is because we believe in every player.”

Villa head to Luton looking to continue an impressive record against the Premier League’s bottom half teams. Nottingham Forest remain the only side from outside last season’s top-five to beat them in the league.

But though Luton have lost their last four matches in all competitions, including a 6-2 midweek thrashing from Manchester City in the FA Cup, Emery will take nothing for granted, warning his players they will need to win their individual duels against Rob Edwards’ front-foot team.

“Even Manchester City needed to be focused to be successful,” he said. “It will be similar for us.

“There will be a lot of duels, a lot of moments when we will need to defend together and maybe defend more deeply than normal because they add a lot of players to attack.

“We have to be focused in our game plan, maybe changing some details or adapting the plan and then trying to play with personality.

“To play with personality tomorrow may be more difficult than other matches.”