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Unai Emery defends decision in Man City loss that has riled Arsenal fans | Football

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Unai Emery defends decision in Man City loss that has riled Arsenal fans | Football

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Villa were beaten 4-1 in Wednesday’s clash at the Etihad Stadium (Picture: Getty)

Unai Emery has defended his decision to heavily rotate his Aston Villa line-up in Wednesday’s defeat at Manchester City, while he expects Emi Martinez to return for the weekend.

The Spanish coach initially made five changes from the team that beat Wolves on Saturday but was forced to make an additional late alteration, with backup keeper Robin Olsen coming in for the ill Martinez.

Although Villa competed well for much of the first half, City racked up 25 shots in a match they dominated and secured a 4-1 victory thanks to a hat-trick from Phil Foden.

With City in a three-way battle with Arsenal and Liverpool for the Premier League title, Emery’s decision to rotate so heavily against the champions raised a few eyebrows but he felt the team he put out was capable of winning the match.

Asked if losing Martinez was a big issue, Emery told TNT Sports: ‘No, because Robin Olsen played well. We conceded four goals but he saved some actions very good.

‘And then of course we compete, until the third goal, very well – defensively, some transitions. We had an opportunity to level the match with Douglas Luiz and when they scored the third goal it was more difficult and they showed their power.’

On his rotation, he continued: ‘We needed players, we needed to try to use different players because we had some players injured.

‘And as well because we played on Saturday, and we are going to play again on Saturday against Brentford at home and then we are playing as well in the Europe Conference League.

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Olsen made several good saves but shipped four goals (Picture: Getty)

‘Of course we have to try to save some players, try as well to let them rest, and today we decided more or less to do one competitive team.

‘With as well some young players like Tim [Iroegbunam], trying to give him confidence and good feelings to continue to improve and continue to try and help us.

‘In the end, in the match, we can feel they deserved to win. Manchester City now are better than us and they showed it.’

Asked at his press conference if the six changes influenced his side’s gameplan, Emery replied: ‘Yeah but changes because we needed it, for some injured players and because as well we need players to try to give them confidence playing and practising.

‘Because we will play a lot of matches for the next week, starting on Saturday against Brentford and then in the Europa Conference League against Lille, and it was very important to try to be intelligent, even today playing against Manchester City.

‘Of course, we were preparing the match trying to win but thinking as well with some players injured and some players like John McGinn suspended to get practice with some players.’

On why Martinez missed the game, Emery added: ‘He was not available to use, before the match he was feeling not good. I think it’s not an important [issue] and he’s going to recover for Saturday.

‘And Ollie Watkins as well, tomorrow we will check him and see if he is getting better for Saturday.’

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