February 24, 2024

Unai Emery instruction for Pau Torres as Moussa Diaby gives honest verdict

Aston Villa head coach Unai Emery

 

Aston Villa remain in the same position in the Premier League table where they started on Sunday – fifth and two points off third.

 

The defeat at Nottingham Forest was laced with the disappointment of failing to break into the top four, but Unai Emery’s side have made a very impressive start to the campaign nonetheless. Villa headed across the Midlands in search of their fourth consecutive win in all competitions, but were undone by goals at the start of each half.

 

It wasn’t necessarily a poor performance from Villa, who have been free scoring lately. Both of the goals they conceded were avoidable for different reasons, while they created enough chances themselves to get something out of the game. That said, Villa were probably due to come unstuck sooner rather than later.

 

Here are the talking points from the loss at the City Ground…

 

EMERY GIVES DOSE OF REALITY

 

Typically bullish after dropping points – of course, there have been so few defeats of late – Emery expects a response from his side. He claimed after full-time that he learns when Villa win, draw or lose.

 

Frustration was the feeling among the travelling band of supporters packed behind the goal in the Bridgford Stand, but Emery was quick to call for calm despite his side failing to climb into the top four for the second time in a month, having also dropped points at Wolves last month.

 

“It is very hard to accept the result,” he told Sky Sports. “We made some mistakes. We conceded early, but for another 80 minutes we played with a good mentality, to try and score.

 

“The second half they scored another early goal. After this we were controlling the game, creating chances and getting corners. It is very difficult when the other team scores first. They defended deeply.

 

“We are fifth in the league, we have 22 points, of course if we could achieve the three points today we would be better. I am proud of the players, before this match I was very proud of the players.

 

“We took this match as a challenge to get to the top four teams, we didn’t achieve it and there is still work to do to try and correct the things we did today with some mistakes.”

 

Pau Torres of Aston Villa

Pau Torres of Aston Villa (Image: Photo by Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images)

WHAT EMERY SHOUTED TO PAU

 

Villa controlled the game for 80 minutes, according to Emery. He was right, but Forest didn’t mind. They packed numbers behind the ball and were set up with good organisation, which prevented Villa from playing free-flowing football.

 

As we know, Pau Torres is a key component to Villa’s build-up and thus the team’s ability to progress possession. Some ten minutes after falling behind Emery shouted at Torres to look to switch the ball towards Matty Cash over on the right instead of always looking for intricate forward passes.

 

For the first 15 minutes of the game, Villa’s patterns of play were predictable and Forest were comfortable in their low block. After Torres began to spread the ball Villa were able to create space and opportunities. A succession of corners immediately followed Torres’ first switch to Cash in the 23rd minute, but Villa lacked quality in front of goal throughout the match.

 

ZANIOLO CHALLENGE

 

Nicolo Zaniolo has now started six of Villa’s last seven league games and appears to be keeping Leon Bailey out of the XI despite the Jamaica international’s strong form. Clearly, Emery trust and believes in Zaniolo’s ability to cause problems for opposing defences.

 

“Zaniolo’s adaptation is going well,” Emery said after full-time. Of course, his individual circumstances are for him sometimes….in his mind, he has to try to be 100 per cent free to try to play. We are trying to do that.

 

“At the moment we are going well with him. We’re using him in one position. It is not his best position but he is helping us. I want to increase his level with us and I want to give him minutes to understand his team-mates, feeling good playing with us and progressively trying to forget the problems he had before.”

 

DIABY’S HONEST VERDICT

 

After winning the man of the match award in Villa’s win over Luton Town last time out, Forest did all they could to nullify the threat of Moussa Diaby. He should have got an assist towards the end of the first period when he picked out Zaniolo inside the box, but the Italian took a poor first touch and squandered the opportunity.

 

Speaking to Premier League Productions, Diaby said of Villa’s defeat: “Today was not a good game. We conceded the first goal too early, we tried to come back but then in the second half we conceded another early goal. It is difficult to come back here when you are 2-0 down.

 

“We have to keep our heads up and continue to work for the next game. Nottingham Forest played well in defence. We are very fast on the counter attack but they defended very well and it was difficult to find the space behind.

 

“We have to work and find the solutions for the next game. When you play away it is always difficult. Thursday we play at home and we have to get the win to have more confidence for the next Premier League game.”

 

COOPER INVITED CAIDAN TO MEET HIS HEROES

 

In his post-match press conference, Forest boss Steve Cooper reached out to distraught 16-year-old Caiden Storry, who was invited by the club to play The Last Post before kick-off as they marked Remembrance Day.

 

The youngster executed the bugle call superbly but just struggled to hit the correct notes right at the end, and after being visibly distressed the crowd and both sets of players gave him a round of applause. Forest and Villa players then consoled the teenager before the match got underway.

 

Caiden, who is a season ticket holder at the City Ground, has since been invited to meet his Forest heroes. Cooper said: “For a 16-year-old boy who’s a fan to stand in the middle of the pitch and do that and do it brilliantly as well, he should be really proud and we are proud of him. It was nice to see how both sets of players responded, because they have to perform and they know what it’s like.

 

“I managed to have a word with Caiden and we will reach out to him and bring him to the training ground because I want him to meet the players so he knows how good he was. He said ‘I’m sorry about that,’ and I said, ‘What for, everyone is really proud of you’.

 

“The Villa boys were excellent and the fans and players did a brilliant job, Caiden did a brilliant job today and I am really proud he delivered that for us.”

 

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