Shropshire Star

Unai Emery defends changes as Aston Villa crash to defeat in Conference League

Unai Emery insisted tinkering with his starting line-up was not to blame after Villa crashed to defeat at Legia Warsaw.


The boss made five changes to his team for the Europa Conference League Group E opener and it resulted in a shaky performance with the Polish hosts claiming a deserved 3-2 victory, writes Matt Maher in Warsaw.

But Emery, who handed Clement Lenglet a debut and also recalled Calum Chambers for a rare start, later defended his decision

He said: “I believe in our squad and players and I know we could have lost this game with the starting XI which started last weekend against Crystal Palace and the one which will play on Sunday against Chelsea.

“Every match is difficult. Away is always difficult in Europe. I have experiences losing with the starting XI players but the most important team is to build a team.

“Of course, we did not achieve what we wanted this time. Losing, we have to learn and try to understand our way with the players in the squad. We will need players in the squad, giving them opportunities to play and use their qualities. Their desire is to play.”

Villa twice came from behind to level in the first half through Jhon Duran and Lucas Digne after Pawel Wszolek and Ernst Muci had put Legia ahead. But Muci’s second goal early in the second half proved the winner with the visitors unable to find a response.


Emery, a four-time Europa League winner, is confident Villa will learn from the experience.

“Everything which happened in the match I have lived before,” he said. “We still have the possibility to react again as we play another five matches. It’s not a good result, but we’ve still got five matches.”

“Our reaction (after the third goal) was not the same as it was in the first half, only in the last five minutes. I want to watch the match again how we can manage them when we are playing in Europe, because my experience shows a lot of matches like that.”