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Unai Emery: Upcoming Tottenham clash had no influence on my team to face Ajax

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 8 Mar 2024

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Aston Villa boss Unai Emery insists Sunday’s crunch Premier League clash with Tottenham was not on his mind when naming his side for Thursday’s 0-0 Europa Conference League draw at Ajax.

Emery made several changes, with John McGinn, Matty Cash and Leon Bailey among those dropping out, and Villa put in a disjointed performance in the last-16 first-leg tie in Amsterdam.

Villa do not have long to recover ahead of Sunday’s huge clash with Spurs, where they could strengthen their grip on a top-four place and Champions League qualification.

But Emery said: “Not really thinking about Sunday because we decided the starting XI with the players with Tim (Iroegbunam) and Morgan (Rodgers) because we didn’t have one player like Tim after injury to (Boubacar) Kamara.

“Ajax have a lot of young players and with Tim we have to do the same and play around players with experiences.

“We decided to play with Pau Torres but knowing the maximum of him was not 90 minutes because maybe that would be taking a risk.

“McGinn, he had a small pain and was a doubt and I prefer not to take a risk. But more or less I was trying to be positive with those players but really we didn’t control the game like we wanted.”

Villa took off Pau Torres at half-time, but Emery said that was planned.

“Pau had a small injury two weeks ago and didn’t play against Luton and we did a plan with him,” he added.

“The plan before the match is not completely 100 per cent because the result and how the match is going.

“I think tactically we needed to change something and we did, and the plan was to play 45 minutes with Pau and we decided to do that.”

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