Aston Villa boss Unai Emery is ‘optimistic’ that his team’s quest for European football next season will prove successful.
Villa’s 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur last week put them on par with Londoners, who are seventh in the European Conference League play-offs, and one point clear of bottom-placed Brighton in the League. Europe.
Emery, whose side plays at Liverpool on Saturday, said at a press conference: “After the match against Tottenham, I am optimistic. It’s not in our hands, but we will play and try to win.”
Villa have responded to recent league defeats with a victory over struggling Tottenham Hotspur, their 14th top-flight win in 23 games since Emery took over last October.
During this run, the former Arsenal boss was nominated for the Premier League Manager of the Season title.
Emery’s side have two games left – on the final day at home to Brighton – and their transformation under the Spaniard has drawn attention to a possible top-seven finish.
“I love Europe,” Emery said. “I really want to play in Europe because after 15 years of spending a lot of time playing amazing matches, amazing games and amazing matches, I’m here to try and do the same with Aston Villa.
The 51-year-old is the most successful coach in the Europa League, having won the competition three times with Sevilla and once with Villarreal, and finished second with Arsenal when they lost to Chelsea in the 2019 final.
“My goal, my passion is to play here, feeling strong emotions together, firstly in the Premier League, secondly trying to get closer to trophies and then playing in Europe,” said Emery.
“This is my motivation every day. This is the reason why we need to be focused and engaging with the people around us, thinking about football and the opportunities in our lives.”
Emery has revealed midfielder Philippe Coutinho will be out of Villa’s final two games after suffering an unspecified injury in training ahead of the Tottenham Hotspur game.
Emery added: “I spoke to him this week. He was a bit unlucky with the month because I didn’t see him play the games the way I want.
“But, of course, given the upcoming injuries, we also need to be patient, now we will wait for his recovery.
“This year he won’t be playing again until the end of this season because we’re finishing in two weeks.”
Defender Calum Chambers missed Thursday’s training due to illness but is expected to be included in the squad for a trip to Anfield.