Unai Emery wants Aston Villa’s players to embrace ‘playing under pressure’

Aston Villa head coach Unai Emery insists he is comfortable with performing under pressure and wants his players to embrace this feeling.

The ex-Arsenal boss has effected a stunning turnaround since being appointed as Steven Gerrard’s successor in October when were just three points above the Premier League relegation zone.

Amid their current nine-match unbeaten run, they have risen up to sixth and are in contention to play in Europe for the first time since 2010.

Having previously managed at Sevilla, Paris St Germain and Arsenal, Emery is no stranger to European football and he is relishing the challenge of securing a top-six finish for Villa.

“I need to play under pressure because, to me, to play under pressure means you can achieve and you can be successful in your career,” said the four-time Europa League winner.

“Trying to be positive when you’re not winning, you have to be.

“Then, when you are facing each match, try to play thinking this is the most difficult match of your life. That is my idea to create here.”

Fulham, who have returned to form with back-to-back victories after four successive defeats, are the visitors on Tuesday.

However, Villa have won their last four home games without conceding a goal and Emery believes that will ensure the Cottagers give them the necessary respect.

“They are going to face us being strong,” he added.

“After the last matches we played at home, keeping four clean sheets and playing very well against Newcastle (winning 3-0 last time at home), they are going to respect us more than normal.

“As a coach, tactically, I expect a lot from them. They have a lot of different, tactical ways to play against us. For us, tomorrow will be a very difficult match.”

Goalkeeper Emi Martinez is expected to play after being forced off with illness at half-time of Saturday’s draw against Brentford.

Fulham boss Marco Silva added: “Of course, Unai is doing a very good job. He is a great manager.

“Everyone knew, when the season started, the quality they have and what they want to fight for. You could feel during the summer with the type of players they signed as well, what they really wanted to fight for.

“They did not have a good spell in the beginning of the season, and after that came a reaction. They have very good players and they are very well managed by Unai.

“They are playing a different system and you can see they are much more confident right now.

“I think the results help them to be much more confident and some players are in a very good moment of form, clearly.”

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