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“Play For A Trophy” Emery Sets Objectives Amidst Buendia Blow

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Having gone unbeaten across our six pre season friendlies, the 2023/24 campaign kicks off for real on Saturday as manager Unai Emery takes Aston Villa up to St James Park to face Newcastle United.

Sadly we have now confirmed that Emi Buendia has suffered what sounds like a freak injury in training and he will now likely miss the next eight odd months with knee ligament injury, and there are a few others players ruled out of this game, but Emery remains optimistic about the kind of season we have ahead of us – and three points on our opening day’s travel would be a great way to start.

Speaking to the media as quoted on the Official Site, Emery understandably addressed our Argentine’s injury first.

“It’s the worst thing in football for the player, for the club, for us and his teammates. In the last action of training yesterday, he was injured and he’s now visiting the doctors. It is a ligament concern. Now, we want to win for him on Saturday in Newcastle, and we have to be passionate with him, to support him and help him to recover as soon as possible.”

Later in the day, Emery confirmed that he could be out for up to eight months as scans had shown a ‘significant’ problem. Hopefully, it won’t quite be that long and we’ll at least see him return to the pitch before the end of the season.

With a return to European football on the cards this year as well, Emery is relishing the opportunity of hopefully having a season where our calendar is packed with 50 odd games as we progress through the Cup competitions.

“I’m excited but trying to be in good balance. I want to increase and give better than last year but trying to keep regularity and the same consistency we had. As well, we’re trying to do things with different players, adding more players and being more competitive. Of course, we are playing one more competition in Europe, giving us more than 40, 45, 50 matches, hopefully, this year.”

He also didn’t hold back when he discussed the opposition, as whilst he remained polite and respectful, they aren’t the only side who have top four aspirations.

“We are going to play 38 matches (Premier League). Every match is going to be very, very important, but of course we are going to win, we are going to draw and we are going to lose. Starting against Newcastle is a very good challenge for us. It’s difficult and I’m very excited about how we can face the match, analysing them, the match we played in pre-season and the last two matches they played in pre-season last week. They are feeling strong at home and their objective has now changed completely from two years before. They have to be in the top four.”


“We want to be as close as we can to be a candidate to be in the top seven or top four. That is the challenge we are going to face.”

We are all used to the almost annual ‘Europe is the target’ speak coming out of Villa Park in the last – well more years that I can remember now – but it has been a while since someone mentioned the top four, and Emery did not need to set the target that high.

Whether we make it or not, we’ll know by May, but for the first time in a long time (and I’m not talking about our dalliances with the top six) we have a manager capable of getting us there. And it’s not the only thing he wants from 2023/24 either.

“When I arrived here, my message was clear and it’s still the same: I’m here to try and play in Europe with Aston Villa. We are doing it. If we are in the group, we will try to share with our supporters a new way to play in Europe. It has been a long time that Aston Villa are not playing in Europe. We are trying to play for a trophy in Europe.”

Again, whatever happens, time will tell but Emery is nothing if not driven.

“Of course, the Premier League is the most important competition for us. It’s our first objective for everybody, try to improve on last year. It’s going to be very difficult, but we have to be very demanding. The two trophies we are going to face in the FA Cup and Carabao Cup, always we have to be a candidate to fight for them. We are not looking at them like a second or third objective. It’s a trophy and we want to play for it. I want to be demanding with myself and with the club to be competitive.”

We’re Villa, there will be ups and downs but bring it on!

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