Aston Villa manager Unai Emery is “optimistic” his side’s rise in European football will prove successful next season.
Villa’s 2-1 win over Tottenham last week put them level with the Londoners, who are seventh in the Europa Conference League play-offs, and just a point ahead of Brighton, bottom in the Europa League occupied.
Emery, whose side play Liverpool on Saturday, told a press conference: “After the Tottenham game I’m optimistic. It’s not in our hands, but we will play and try to win.”
Villa responded to their recent back-to-back league defeat by beating Tottenham, the ailing side, their 14th top-flight win in 23 games since Emery took charge last October.
In that run, the former Arsenal manager was nominated for Premier League Manager of the Season.
Emery’s side have two games left – at home to Brighton on the final day – and their change under the Spaniard has put a potential top-seven finish in the spotlight.
“I love Europe,” said Emery, “I really want to play in Europe because after 15 years of spending a lot of time playing great games, great performances and great games, I’m here to try and do the same with Aston to reach villa.”
The 51-year-old is the Europa League’s most accomplished manager, winning the competition three times with Sevilla and once with Villarreal, while finishing second with Arsenal when they lost to Chelsea in the 2019 final.
“My focus, my passion is to play here and feel strong emotions together, firstly in the Premier League, secondly I try to be close to the trophies and then play in Europe,” said Emery.
“That is my motivation every day. That’s why we have to be focused and think about football and the opportunities in our lives with the involvement of those around us.”
Emery has revealed that midfielder Philippe Coutinho will not feature in Villa’s last two games after picking up an unspecified injury in training ahead of the game against Tottenham.
Emery added: “I spoke to him this week. He’s a bit unlucky with his month because I didn’t see him play the way I wanted.
“But of course with the injuries coming up we also have to be patient, now we are waiting for his recovery.
“This year he won’t play again until the end of this season because we’re done in two weeks.”
Defender Calum Chambers missed training on Thursday due to illness but is expected to be included in the squad for the trip to Anfield.