There is little in the way of a honeymoon period for Unai Emery, who must negotiate an immediate high-profile debut against Champions League chasing Manchester United.
United arrive at Villa Park in decent shape, and whilst not yet totally convincing under Erik ten Hag, they are just a point off fourth spot. The team just ahead of them is a Newcastle side that comfortably defeated Villa 4-0 last time out, setting alarm bells ringing after the brief respite of a win against Brentford.
Emery certainly has his work cut out, and will have had little time after a work permit delay midweek to instill a new methodology. It was no surprise to see clips emerge of shooting drills and exercises that showed the team moving cohesively at Bodymoor Heath appear via official channels. Whilst perhaps cliched, it seems obvious that Villa must “go back to basics”, at least in the first instance.Embed from Getty Images
This is a precarious moment for Villa, there is a long season ahead, but with just two tricky games before a lengthy World Cup break, keeping out of the relegation zone is now a priority.
The sacking of Steven Gerrard was the right call after a wasted 11 months, but it has brought with it turmoil behind the scenes.
Emery only took charge of his first training session on Wednesday (2nd November) and eight new coaching staff were only confirmed Thursday (3rd November). At the time of writing, many of those key coaches were still awaiting work permits. Hardly ideal ahead of a big game looming on Sunday afternoon (2pm, 6th November).
We have to hope that what limited time the squad has had with the new manager has been spent wisely. There has been a justifiable examination of under-performance to date, but a line has to now be drawn. Emery will no doubt be keenly watching the contributions of his newly acquired players, and with so much now riding upon this game, so will we.
PRE-MATCH KEY FACTS
- Emi Martinez remains a doubt after coming off against Newcastle with a head injury.
- Nakamba and Sanson have featured prominently in early sessions, suggesting possible re-inclusion the matchday plans.
- Martial, Antony and Sancho didn’t feature midweek for Utd due to illness/injury and are doubts.
- Bruno Fernandes won’t appear at Villa Park due to suspension.
- Lindelof and Wan-Bissaka are back though to bolster the visitors.
- Villa are currently on a winless run of 23 against Man U, a PL record.
- Villa’s formbook is a concern, with just 5 wins in the last 24.
- More positively, we are looking for back to back home wins for the first time in 22 months.
- Emery is undefeated against Manchester United in 4 PL attempts.
- United arrive at Villa Park unbeaten in 5 games, losing just once in the last 10.