Unai Emery says Aston Villa’s target for the season is to secure European football after the club’s impressive run of form under his management.
Villa are unbeaten in 10 Premier League games and have won eight of those fixtures, with only Manchester City (28) having taken more points than Emery’s side (26) over that period.
That run has seen Villa rise to sixth in the Premier League table, ahead of this weekend’s clash with fourth-placed Manchester United. Ahead of the fixture, Emery said the club’s ambitions have changed following a fine run of results.
“We escaped the bottom [of the table], we are in the top 10 and the European places are the last step,” he told his pre-match press conference.
“We are playing key matches, to achieve something really important. The new target is Europe.
“And, of course, Europe could be Champions League, Europa League or Europa Conference League.”
Emery admits each result is important in a competitive race to secure European football and has called on his side to focus and embrace the pressure ahead of this weekend’s trip to Old Trafford.
“We have to face the match on Sunday, enjoying the opportunity that we have.
“We are fighting with teams like Tottenham, like Liverpool, who played the final of the Champions League [in 2019], and Brighton, who are having an exceptional season.
“We have to be very focused, I like to play under pressure, it’s not negative pressure.
“Every day, I have in my mind to try to be aware, if we relax, we can lose. They [the players] have to play with the same focus, the same improvements.”
Emery gave his view on Manchester United’s progress under Erik ten Hag and believes the Red Devils have had a ‘very good season’. United won the League Cup in February and will face Manchester City in the FA Cup final in June.
“It’s a very difficult match, they have good players, individually and collectively,” Emery said.
“They won the Carabao Cup and they will play the final of the FA Cup – it’s a very good season for them.”
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