Unai Emery details the biggest ‘challenge’ for his Aston Villa players; explains defeat to Man Utd

Unai Emery of Aston Villa

Aston Villa boss Unai Emery has given his players their biggest ‘challenge’ since his arrival, while also analysing the loss to Manchester United.

Aston Villa beat Manchester United 3-1 during Emery’s first game in charge, which came in the Premier League. And they were looking to make it two wins over the Red Devils in a matter of days on Thursday night.

Villa travelled to Old Trafford in the Carabao Cup third round. However, they couldn’t make it a double and were beaten 4-2.

The two teams played out a dull first half which included few clear-cut chances.

Diogo Dalot sent a header just over the crossbar in the 24th minute. Scott McTominay later reacted quickly to head a Douglas Luiz corner off the line as it was heading towards goal.

Those were the only real notable moments in the first half. Luckily for both sets of fans, the game burst into the life early in the second half.

Jacob Ramsey drove forward from midfield and sent Ollie Watkins through. He took a couple of good touches before delightfully clipping the ball over the onrushing Martin Dubravka and into the net.

Villa’s lead lasted a matter of seconds though as Man Utd went straight down the other end and scored. Dalot sent Bruno Fernandes off down the right flank and he put the ball across for Anthony Martial, who had a simple finish.

Unai Emery substitute works wonders

Unai Emery made three subs in the 59th minute, bringing Emi Buendia, Leon Bailey and Tyrone Mings on. And Bailey made an instant impact.

Villa engaged in some nice build up play before Ashley Young clipped a cross to the back post. Bailey headed it back across goal and Dalot was the unlucky player to hit it into his own net, restoring Villa’s lead.

The visitors were once again pegged back though when Mings slipped at the crucial moment, allowing Marcus Rashford to hold off Calum Chambers and finish into the bottom corner.

And Man Utd took the lead for the first time in the 78th minute when Robin Olsen gave the ball away, allowing Man Utd to pounce. Alejandro Garnacho set up Fernandes and the Portuguese’s effort deflected in off Mings.

Villa’s hopes of a comeback were well and truly dashed in stoppage time when McTominay made it 4-2, connecting with a great Garnacho cross to beat Olsen.

Unai Emery bemoans final 15 minutes

During a post-match interview with Sky Sports (via BBC Sport), Emery said: “I am happy with our peformance for 75 minutes, we competed very well and in the first half were defensively strong.

“We need to take more calm with the ball, more possession and break the press. We were in a good moment for the second half.

“More options in attack and we scored two times, but when they scored quickly we needed to close more the spaces between our lines and not open the match.”

Emery then admitted that Villa’s end to the match had cost them, and that their main challenge from now on is to be ‘consistent’.

“They had 15 minutes at the end better than us,” the Spanish coach admitted. “We have to achieve in our mind the good moment we did tonight and only the end minutes our mentality was a bit going down. Our challenge is to be consistent.”

Meanwhile, Aston Villa are reportedly in a transfer battle with Newcastle for a Villarreal winger.