Unai Emery was written off by English football a little more than 12 months ago, after an underwhelming spell at Arsenal, but he has returned with a vengeance.
Taking over from Arsene Wenger at Arsenal was in hindsight, always a poisoned chalice, with Emery failing to impress during his time in North London.
Despite his Villa team sitting fifth in the table, Emery is keen for his side to not stagnate, speaking on the matter in his pre-match press conference ahead of this weekend’s fixture with Nottingham Forest: “I have to be in good balance when we are winning and when we are losing.
“I have to be very clinical in my analysis of how we can improve and never be relaxed because we are always facing very difficult matches.”
What a performance.
What a result.
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) November 6, 2022
Next up for Villa are Forest, with the clash taking place at 2pm on Sunday at the City Ground. Sitting 11 places above their opponents in the table, Villa fans will be full of confidence ahead of the game, but the boss still demands the maximum from his team.
“On Sunday, it’s the same. I don’t want to stop and I want to continue progressing. I want to be very demanding with each player in every match we are going to face.
“We have to try to connect with our supporters and try to play for them.
It’s important to be focused on each match and try to be ambitious in our focus, in how we can improve, in how we can get the three points on Sunday and how we can keep our position in the table.”
Bailey ballin’ 🤤
— UEFA Europa Conference League (@europacnfleague) November 3, 2023
Although Emery will be confident in his side’s ability to take all three points, underestimating his opponents and the Forest crowd is something he is careful not to do.
Speaking on the City Ground and the atmosphere it possesses, Emery commented: “I didn’t play there last year; we arrived after they played there. I have been asking the coaches, asking the players about how difficult the match will be on Sunday.
“Always in Nottingham it’s very difficult for every team. From the coaches and players that have played there I know it’s difficult.
“It’s a fantastic atmosphere there for them and the supporters are pushing a lot and trying to support their players.”
Villa Park has been somewhat of a fortress itself under Emery, with the Spaniard’s side winning their last 12 matches at home.
Aston Villa are now unbeaten in their last 12 Premier League home games under Unai Emery:
🏟️ 12 games
✅ 12 wins
🤝 0 draws
❌ 0 losses
Incredible run. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/HADLdVIaFD
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) October 30, 2023
However, the Villa boss demands more from his side on the road: “We have to be ready and facing this match thinking about how we can play better away. We are playing very well at home and being very competitive at home and winning.
“Away we are not being consistent like I want. We have to improve and we can play better. This is the challenge: we can play better, we can be more competitive.”
With the 6th of November marking a year since Emery’s first game in charge, the Villa faithful will be hoping for another year just as special.