Emery on European success, clean sheets and Martinez

Unai Emery faced the media before Aston Villa’s Europa Conference League semi-final first leg with Olympiakos on Thursday.

Here are the headlines.

  • On his successful European past having won the Europa League four times: "I don’t want to remember my past in Europe. Of course I know it’s successful more or less but I want to focus on each moment. The past is important for my achievements but not the future. I can use my experiences, but it’s about creating a new way and trying to enjoy a new way. I’m here because I was more successful than less and we were always focusing on Europe."

  • On how he has juggled campaigns in the Premier League and in Europe: "We are excited for the Conference League. We are very motivated with the Premier League. It’s not changing my first message – the most important 38 matches are the Premier League, then we can add the FA Cup, Carabao Cup and Conference League."

  • He continued: "If we get to the end of the season being a contender, of course the importance changes a little bit. The players have responded very well but to keep it for a long time is very difficult."

  • Villa are in a first major European semi-final since winning the European Cup in 1982 as Emery looks to realise his ambition of winning silverware at Villa: "Even when I arrived here my first objective was to get to Europe. We did a very big effort and we have the Europa Conference League. We have enjoyed it."

  • He continued: “Even playing against some teams in leagues where the level is less than us. We started in Warsaw and lost, we were close to drawing with Zrinjski and won in the 90th minute and we drew in Zrinjski. My experience in Europe is that it is always very difficult. We are the only English team left in Europe.”

  • On conceding goals as Villa have only keeping one clean sheet in their past seven games: “Clean sheets are very important because they are the first step to avoid losing matches. If you’re not keeping a clean sheet and you’re winning, I’m happy. To be strong defensively is keeping clean sheets and this is our message. We are analysing and trying to avoid it but we are accepting. We are scoring a lot of goals. My demand as a coach is to get better defensively [but] overall we have to accept we’re being consistent.

  • Long-term absentees remain out as are Emi Martinez, Alex Moreno and Youri Tielemans. However, Nicolo Zaniolo could return. "With the injured players, Zaniolo was feeling better and we are thinking to include him in the squad tomorrow. With Tielemans, Emiliano and Moreno tomorrow they are not available. On Sunday I don't know."

  • On being without Martinez, who was suspended for the first leg anyway: “Martinez is very competitive and very important and helped us a lot. But when an issue like that, the yellow card, and a small injury, we have to protect and push another player in the squad. Robin Olsen has been very competitive. The team believes in him and trusts in his performances. On Saturday, he played 45 minutes against Chelsea and he saved us. He’s a humble man and hopefully he can help us and can feel comfortable playing.”

Listen to full commentary of Aston Villa v Olympiakos on BBC Radio 5 Live from 20:00 BST on Thursday