Thu 10 Aug 2023, 16:07 by NUFC News

Unai Emery attempts to pile the pressure on Eddie Howe ahead of season opener

Unai Emery attempts to pile the pressure on Eddie Howe ahead of season opener
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Aston Villa boss Unai Emery thinks Newcastle United's targets have changed dramatically as we approach the opening match of the 2023/24 Premier League campaign.

The Spaniard, who was the club's first choice to replace Steve Bruce in 2021, has stated in his pre-match press conference that Eddie Howe's side "have to" finish in the top four again this season.

Newcastle host Villa at St. James' Park on Saturday evening. The game is being beamed live on Sky in the UK and Ireland with a kick-off time of 5.30 p.m. BST.

With the club now playing in the Champions League for the first time since 2002/03, Emery has hinted that only the same again will suffice in 2024/25:

“Starting against Newcastle is a very good challenge for us.

It’s difficult and I’m very excited about how we can face the match, analysing them, the match we played in pre-season and the last two matches they played in pre-season last week.

They are feeling strong at home and their objective has now changed completely from two years before. They have to be in the top four.”

Another top-four finish will clearly be the aim for Howe and his players, but the bookmakers currently have Newcastle finishing sixth rather than fourth, a rather more realistic appraisal of our chances this season.

It seems to us that Emery is just trying to put some extra pressure on us before the game at the weekend, no doubt rattled by the fact he's missing the likes of Emiliano Buendia, Jacob Ramsey, Alex Moreno, and more.

He knows what he's doing using the words "have to" and it will be interesting to hear Howe's reaction to those comments tomorrow morning when he faces the assembled press at Benton for his own pre-match conference.

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