Unai Emery arrived in November at Aston Villa in crisis. Fifth from bottom to a point in the relegation zone, the ‘bad guys” erraticity drove Steven Gerrard forward and part of the illusions of a project with aspirations of getting closer to the ‘Big Six’.
The sale of Grealish (117.5 million euros) to Manchester City in 2021 injected “cash” into a historic club that invested 200 people after the departure of its star. Buendía (38.4), Pele (32), Diego Carlos (31), Digne (30), Ings (29.42), Coutinho (20), Dendoncker (15), Camara (free) … However, they did not compete until the first arrived from Villarreal. “My challenge is to put together a team, to build an idea of the game in this club. I have spoken to the players that we have to be patient and calm,” warned Emery, who since his arrival at Villa Park has given the seven-time English Premier League and 1982 European Cup champions.
Emery said afterwards: “We are on the right track to build the team I want. If you want to beat clubs from the ‘Big Six’, you have to be disciplined in defense and efficient in front of goal.” Win (0-2) at Tottenham. The home victory for “Kabir” with the aspirations of champions was Villa’s third in four matches under their new coach. Before “Tottenham” they beat Manchester United (3-1) and Peregon (1-2) and lost only to Liverpool (1-3).
The nine points out of the 12 added by the Birmingham team with Unai have only been bettered by Arsenal, Liverpool (12) and Newcastle (10) in this period.. Champions League numbers for a Spanish coach who achieved the same (three) wins in four matches as Gerrard, in 13! They have gone from coming close to relegation to seven points above the red zone and just like them in Europe. With January in which they will sign (and many more) on the market, improving their squad, the horizon has opened up for Villa.
“Tactically we need to be strong and defensive as well. We need to be together and be more solid. We want to be one step ahead, fight and compete,” Unai reiterates. Gerrard’s poor 1-4-3-3 stance has given way to a 1-4-4-2 where it is more stony and sharp, uncomfortable for some of the opponents he duels with and showing all sorts of records: possession, pull-ups, counter-attacking…. His board has already defeated the board of directors of Eric ten Hag and the commission of Antonio Conte, and footballers such as McGinn, Buendia, Bailey, Douglas Luiz or the recovered Kamara have taken a step forward.
Tactically, we have to be strong and defensive as well. We need to be together and stronger. We want to be one step ahead, fight and compete
Without “Depo” Martínez, Olsen notched his first clean sheet of the season in the league against Tottenham. Another example of a radical and profound change in his performance. Before Emery they conceded 1.6 goals per game in the Premier League and now 1.25 goals. And they scored an average of 0.8 with Gerrard and two with the Spanish coach! A complete development in the regions led them to win two consecutive away matches (Brighton and Tottenham) after scoring eight without winning away from Villa Park. “Villa are challenging me to make moves in a competitive league like the Premier League. I can build a team to go back to Europe,” He admitted to MARCA after signing. It is already laying the foundations. Emery has made a strong return to ‘football’.