EPL

Unai Emery praises Aston Villa for playing ‘seriously’ after stunning first half

By Sports Desk February 03, 2024

Aston Villa boss Unai Emery was pleased with how his side continued to play “seriously” during their 5-0 romp at Sheffield United.

Villa got their top-four ambitions back on track in style as they put the hapless Blades to the sword in a scintillating opening half-hour where they went 4-0 up thanks to goals from John McGinn, Ollie Watkins, Leon Bailey and Youri Tielemans.

Alex Moreno made it five a minute after the break to briefly raise hopes of going for the record Premier League win before Villa took their foot off the gas.

Emery said: “We had control of the game and we were clinical. We got confidence quickly and we were feeling comfortable.

“We finished the first half with a very good result and we tried to be respectful of them firstly and tried to play seriously and practise playing the match thinking of things we needed to improve.

“The most important thing is to win and try to be respectful of the opponent and play seriously in every minute we are facing the match.

“We were scoring goals and we tried to stop them as well, as we did before we scored four goals in the first half.

“In the last moment we conceded one goal before VAR, before we conceded two very good chances for them. I want to be demanding in that moment to play seriously and respect them.

“When you win like that overall we have to be happy but in the next matches we are not always going to be comfortable like that and we have to be serious in our gameplan and be responsible.”

It was another embarrassing day for Sheffield United, just four months after they were beaten 8-0 by Newcastle at Bramall Lane.

Boss Chris Wilder will surely know his side will be playing in the Championship next season as they have taken just 10 points from 23 games and are the same number away from safety.

He said: “No excuses, we were architects of our downfall in terms of the manner of the goals and you’re 4-0 down after half an hour. I am not going to apologise for it but it becomes damage limitation.

“I understand supporters will want to see us get after the opposition in that case but we’ve already had one of those evenings before.

“I didn’t see it coming, I thought I picked the right team, an athletic team, a front-footed team. We were second best all afternoon. As manager I have to stand on the touchline and accept everything that comes my way and it is well and truly deserved.

“The players are on the floor, they are not doing cartwheels in there. It’s a difficult one to take. We are all hurting, a reaction is needed, it is going to be a long week for us. I have to put it right.

“We took a big step backwards today, I can’t hide away from that. That is something that is damaging and something we have to get over.”

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