Unai Emery tells Aston Villa to avoid complacency when Sheffield United visit

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Boss Unai Emery has urged Aston Villa to avoid complacency as they eye the Premier League’s summit.

Victory over struggling Sheffield United on Friday will send Villa top and add weight to any title claims.

They would remain top at Christmas if Arsenal and Liverpool draw on Saturday after Emery took over when Villa were 14th in October last year.

They have won 15 straight home league games – including beating Arsenal and Manchester City – but Emery remains wary of the rock-bottom Blades.

“I have to try to keep the same motivation and the same preparation for the matches as we have been doing. I can remind them and myself of some matches we played before we started winning,” he said, with Villa third, a point behind leaders Arsenal.

“When we are not playing in our structure and organising our structure with and without the ball, even against the best team or bottom team in the table, we are closer to losing.

“My concern with the players is being consistent, to be consistent preparing the match, to be consistent during the match and focusing on our game plan.

“When we were winning against, more or less, the best teams in the Premier League like Arsenal and Manchester City in the last two matches at home we are now facing the same difficulty against Sheffield as against Arsenal and City.”

Boubacar Kamara is banned after his red card in the 2-1 win at Brentford and starts a three-game suspension.

Pau Torres, Bertrand Traore and Youri Tielemans are injured but Douglas Luiz and Lucas Digne will return.

Emery added: “Youri, we are thinking maybe not more than two weeks, but he is now working alone and recovering his injury in his calf. Pau Torres, it is his ankle. It’s a small injury.

“Every day coming is important to how he is improving, I don’t know if he will be available for Manchester United, but he could be.”

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