Unai Emery hopes to thwart Aston Villa’s Champions League ambitions before facing Liverpool, acknowledging recent challenges as ‘frustrating’

Unai Emery hopes to thwart Aston Villa’s Champions League ambitions before facing Liverpool, acknowledging recent challenges as ‘frustrating’

Unai Emery has turned Aston Villa into one of the best teams in England this season but will be desperate for a strong finish to help him repeat the trick next term.

A win over Liverpool on Monday night would be enough to guarantee Villa a top-four finish and a place in the Champions League — something they have not managed since the competition was rebranded in 1992.

Like virtually every club in the Premier League, Villa have to keep a close eye on spending rules to ensure they do not receive punishments in future. 

A sponsorship deal with Betano, said to be worth £20million a year, will help — but Champions League funds would enable the club to attract higher-quality players and keep the majority of those they have.

Villa were without eight first-team players due to injury as they were beaten by Olympiacos last week in the Europa Conference League semi-finals and Emery’s men are limping towards the finishing line, having lost their last three matches.

Unai Emery can secure Champions League football if his Aston Villa side beat Liverpool

Villa were without eight first-team players due to injury as they were beaten by Olympiacos last week in the Europa Conference League semi-finals

Villa were without eight first-team players due to injury as they were beaten by Olympiacos last week in the Europa Conference League semi-finals

A win over Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool on Monday night would be enough to guarantee Villa a top-four finish and a place in the Champions League

A win over Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool on Monday night would be enough to guarantee Villa a top-four finish and a place in the Champions League

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Captain John McGinn urged them to rediscover their best form, first against Jurgen Klopp’s side and then at Crystal Palace on Sunday.

He said: ‘It is clear the boys need a lift but it is up to us to find that fire and get over the line. There has been a determination for five or six weeks. 

‘That is the frustrating thing, we could have had it wrapped up before now. But the Premier League is extremely difficult.

‘We have had some setbacks along the way but this group will keep fighting. We are so disappointed not to have gone all the way in Europe. We have underachieved there but we will learn from it and be back better and stronger next year.’

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