Friday, May 24, 2024

Emery demands Villa adapt after European defeat before Seagulls visit

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 4 May 2024


Unai Emery says Aston Villa must adapt to the varying challenges of European and domestic football ahead of Sunday’s Premier League meeting with an “amazing” Brighton at Amex Stadium.

Villa boss Emery has become renowned as somewhat of a European mastermind, having won three Europa Leagues with Sevilla and another when in charge of Villarreal.

Yet the Spaniard will have been disappointed as Villa slipped to a 4-2 home defeat against Olympiacos in Thursday’s Europa Conference League semi-final first leg.

Emery acknowledged his Champions League-chasing Villa must prepare differently for different challenges in Europe as they prepare to return to domestic action against Brighton.

He said: “We want to grow up in Europe, playing Europa League and Champions League. I like it.

“The players have to adapt to that situation playing more matches than normal and then try to take experiences and manage those competitions and try to be successful in both.”

European football is on the cards next term at Villa Park, too, with Emery’s fourth-placed side seven points clear of Tottenham, who have played a game fewer.

Villa can move one step closer to an unlikely Champions League qualification with victory at Brighton, though Emery knows a tough task awaits against Roberto De Zerbi.

“The respect for Roberto de Zerbi is high,” he added. “He is an amazing coach, he was playing very good last year.

“It is amazing how they play.”

Brighton, meanwhile, are winless in six straight Premier League games and have been demolished by Bournemouth and Manchester City in recent weeks.

That winless run leaves the Seagulls 12th in the table and Brighton head coach De Zerbi is desperate for a response on Sunday, even if they are out of European contention.

“I spoke about motivation not because we want to go on holiday tomorrow or next week,” De Zerbi said. “When the target is not so close it is tough to accept for a team who is used to fighting for the important target.

“This season until the Brentford game, until maybe the Burnley game, we have had the chance to qualify for another year in the Europe League.

“I think after that we lost something of energy and of motivation.”


Brighton – Joao Pedro

Brighton have not managed a goal from one of their own players since Danny Welbeck scored after just two minutes in the March 31 defeat against Liverpool at Anfield.

De Zerbi may look to Joao Pedro to end that struggle, with the forward’s eight league goals leading the club’s scoring charts – though he has not scored since March 2 against Crystal Palace.

Aston Villa – Ollie Watkins

Ollie Watkins has scored six goals in his last four Premier League appearances against Brighton, including a hat-trick in Villa’s 6-1 win earlier this season. It’s the most goals he’s netted against an opponent in the competition.

The England striker has also been involved in eight goals in his last five Premier League away games, scoring six and assisting two. His 10 Premier League away goals overall this season is the most of any English player in the competition.


The Opta supercomputer struggled to split these two sides in the pre-match predictions, though Villa are the narrow favourites for this one considering recent head-to-head clashes.

Emery’s men won 6-1 in this season’s reverse Premier League fixture against Brighton – they last netted more than six against an opponent in 2020-21 vs Liverpool (8), while their most goals against an opponent in a season is 10 against Wimbledon in 1994-95.

Brighton have also lost their last five Premier League matches against Villa by an aggregate score of 14-3. The Seagulls last suffered six defeats in a row against a side between 2019 and 2022 against Man Utd.

Villa, meanwhile, will be looking to register six consecutive top-flight wins against an opponent for the first time since between 2005 and 2010 against fierce rivals Birmingham City.

The visitors may be confident of doing so given De Zerbi’s men have lost their last two league games by an aggregate score of 7-0.

The Seagulls last lost more in a row in the competition in March 2022 (run of six – the third of which was at home to Villa), while they last conceded 3+ goals in three successive league matches in October 2011 as a Championship side.


Brighton win – 35.4%

Aston Villa win – 35.7%

Draw – 28.9%


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