Unai Emery upsets Aston Villa squad as decision fails to pay off
We’re delighted to welcome former Aston Villa full-back Alan Hutton as our exclusive columnist. Each week he’ll be giving his views on the biggest talking points at Villa Park…
Unai Emery’s decision to mix up his starting line-up for Aston Villa’s European matches “upsets” the rhythm of the squad, according to Alan Hutton.
After qualifying with ease against Hibernian, Villa are two games into their Europa Conference League group stage campaign with a record of one win and one defeat.
Emery’s made wholesale changes for the trip to Legia Warsaw on 21 September, leading to a 3-2 loss away in Poland. He then made big changes against Croatian minnows Zrinjski on 5 October and it took a 95th-minute goal by John McGinn to win the game 1-0.
Calum Chambers, Diego Carlos, Clement Lenglet, Youri Tielemans, Leander Dendoncker and Jhon Duran are among the players brought in for both of those matches while the likes of Ollie Watkins, Moussa Diaby, Douglas Luiz, Boubacar Kamara and Pau Torres were rested.
Hutton believes Villa should still win their Conference League group but he admits the number of changes is causing disruption to the team’s momentum.
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“They can compete, it’s just getting used to it,” Hutton told Villa News.
“Unai Emery makes several changes and that upsets the team a bit. But that being said, against Zrinjski the other night, they should have run away with it.
“Emi Martinez makes two good saves but Villa should have scored five if they had their shooting boots on and then John McGinn pops up at the end.
“All the teams have got three points after two games so I don’t think it’s a problem and I still feel it’s a group Villa will top.
“I don’t see it being a problem, it’s just about getting the right mix with the team.”
After the international break, Villa welcome reigning Conference League champions West Ham to Villa Park in the Premier League on Sunday 22 October before travelling to the Netherlands to play AZ Alkmaar on Thursday 26 October. On paper, that’s the toughest match of the group.