Emery tells Villa to seize 'amazing' top four chance

<a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Aston Villa;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Aston Villa</a> boss Unai Emery (Adrian DENNIS)
Aston Villa boss Unai Emery (Adrian DENNIS)

Unai Emery has challenged Aston Villa to seize their "amazing" opportunity to qualify for the Champions League as they look to strengthen their grip on fourth place against Chelsea.

Villa are six points clear of fifth placed Tottenham in the race to seal a lucrative spot in next season's Champions League via a top four finish.

Emery's men can stretch that lead to nine points when they host troubled Chelsea on Saturday, before Tottenham face leaders Arsenal in the first of their three games in hand on Sunday.

"Amazing motivation we have in front of us, but realistic as well because I think we deserve to be contenders now to get it," Emery told reporters on Friday.

"Even one month ago, you were asking the same, 'if we were contenders to be in the top seven teams or in the Champions League?' I was always saying the same message, 'we weren't'.

"But, of course, getting to match 32, 33, 34, like we are now, if we are in the table with the possibility like we have now, we have to try and get it."

Villa last played in the Champions League under its old European Cup guise in 1982-83.

To return to Europe's elite club competition would be a huge achievement for Emery, given the difficult situation he inherited from his predecessor Steven Gerrard on his arrival from Villarreal in 2022.

Emery's men are also competing to win the Europa Conference League, with the semi-final first leg against Olympiakos at Villa Park on Thursday.

"Now we are contenders, but we have to fight with another opponent like Tottenham and it's going to be very difficult," he said.

"We are now as well in the Europa Conference League and this is another important step ahead we did.

"I'm very proud of the work we did but now we are adding another objective, trying to get a Champions League position."