Unai Emery tells Aston Villa players ‘this is our time’ ahead of crucial Brighton match with Europe on the line


Unai Emery has passionately told his players, “This is your time” as Aston Villa prepare for a season-defining game against Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday.


Villa know that a win will secure seventh place and guarantee a spot in the Europa Conference League next season, and Emery, with his big-game experience, has fired his team up with motivating speeches and a razor-sharp focus.

The head coach admitted that he’s desperate to secure European football at Villa for the first time in 13 years and that he “loves” additional games on the continent.


But Emery also says that finding a way to tactically outsmart Brighton, who themselves secured sixth place and a Europa League spot on Wednesday, is one of his toughest tests of the season.


“I told the players, ‘This is our time, this is our moment and we have to enjoy it’,” he said.

We have to connect with our supporters. We are playing on Sunday for something very important.

“It was different last week. We were thinking maybe we could be playing for something in the final week. After drawing at Liverpool it is in our hands and we have something very important to enjoy and be motivated.


“Brighton have already achieved their objective. They will play in the Europa League.


“I think their performance is going to be similar because it is a team with a very strong structure. That makes it a big challenge for myself as a coach because I have to understand with the players the last tactical decision about

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In a similar way to Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, Emery is also a big fan of Roberto De Zerbi and the work he has done at Brighton.


“He can show different things offensively and defensively,” Emery said on the Italian.


“He’s a coach here in England doing something different and I like that.


“You have to be in the fast lane in football because things change so quickly. You have to try to adapt quickly and understand quickly.


“Brighton’s structure is so strong that some teams have found it hard to stop them.


“Man City did it quite well, and other teams have been able to (stop them) so we have to use some experiences from other teams to help. But we also need to do it ourselves properly.”


Villa will be without Alex Moreno and Philippe Coutinho but otherwise have a strong squad to choose from.


A decision will be made on Ashley Young’s future after the game as the 37-year-old is out of contract next month, but Emery says that is not the focus until after the game.


The club are encouraging supporters to arrive early at Villa Park to welcome the players into the stadium at 3pm, and 90 minutes ahead of kick-off.


The Brighton game feels like a final and Emery says: “It’s something like a final because it’s the last match after 37 games so it is up to us now.


“The players have to be demanding, not critical, but realistic. The reality is we have to improve (on the 2-1 win against Tottenham Hotspur in the last home game) to beat Brighton.


“Football is always about the next challenge you face.


“I don’t think about where we were when I arrived here anymore and I don’t want to remember it. I want to face the next step, the match on Sunday and I want to enjoy this moment.”


While Villa host Brighton, eighth-placed Tottenham travel to relegation-threatened Leeds knowing they must better whatever result Emery’s side get in order to have a chance at leapfrogging them. Brentford still have an outside chance of finishing seventh too, with Thomas Frank’s side needing to beat champions Manchester City and hope neither Villa nor Spurs win so they can jump up to seventh.


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