Unai Emery has the tactical nous to lead Aston Villa to success at home and abroad
Posted by  badge Boss on Dec 13, 2023 - 06:41PM
John McGinn celebrates after his late goal against Zrinjski at Villa Park (Picture: Getty Images)

Aston Villa began the season with their focus firmly placed on winning the Europa Conference League but they have barged their way into the title conversation with their victories over and .

The big question now is whether manager can successfully juggle the demands of playing multiple games at home and abroad to maintain an effective assault on both fronts.

Villa have already qualified for the knockout stages of the Conference League but a point at Zrinjski Mostar would mean they skip a round and advance straight to the last 16.

It would also mean they have two games less to worry about when the European action resumes in February and that could be key to any long-term success in their pursuit of top-flight glory.

Emery is bound to rotate his squad ahead of Sunday’s trip to Brentford but he cannot take Mostar for granted as his side needed an injury-time winner from John McGinn when they met at Villa Park in the reverse fixture.

The Bosnian club cannot qualify but opened their Group E campaign with a 4-3 victory at home to AZ Alkmaar and have been competitive in the return in the Netherlands and in the two matches against Legia Warsaw as well as at Villa Park and they will be eager to bow out with a prized scalp.

Unai Emery won the Europa League with Sevilla on three occasions (Picture: AMA/Getty Images)

Despite an impressive run of six wins and a draw since their 2-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest on November 5, Villa have triumphed by more than a single goal on only one occasion, which was when they beat Fulham 3-1 at Villa Park on November 12. Back the hosts +2 goals to win to 4/6 with bet365 with a 2-1 win available at 15/2 with the same firm.

In the Europa League, West Ham need to avoid defeat to second-placed Freiburg to reach the last 16 rather than having to play in the round of 32 and despite the 5-0 thrashing at Fulham on Sunday they can gain the required point through a draw, which is 16/5 with bet365. 

Brighton are 4/6 with BetUK to win at home to Marseille while Liverpool, who are already confirmed as group winners, are 29/20 with the same bookmakers to win at Union Saint-Gilloise despite being focused on Sunday’s blockbuster with Manchester United at Old Trafford.

• if Manchester United follow their Champions League exit with a whopping defeat at Liverpool on Sunday when the hosts are 5/1 with Sky Bet to win by more than three goals. The Dutchman is no bigger than 7/4 with Paddy Power and Betfair to be the next Premier League manager to leave his post.

• Luke Humphries has already been tipped at 5/1 to win the Paddy Power World Darts Championship which starts at Alexandra Palace in London on Friday. He’s still well worth backing but is no better than 3/1 with multiple firms including the tournament sponsors. Rob Cross is a widespread 11/4 with to reach the semi-finals by winning the first quarter of the draw, Gary Anderson is easy to find at 4/1 to take the second quarter, Michael van Gerwen is 11/10 with Betway to win the third and Humphries is evens with the same company to win the fourth. Stick them in a yankee and enjoy a happy start to 2024.