Unai Emery eases concerns over Leon Bailey's fitness after Arsenal victory – sportsmax.tv

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Aston Villa’s head coach, Unai Emery, has moved to calm concerns over the fitness of Jamaican sensation Leon Bailey after the winger was substituted at halftime during their pivotal 1-0 victory over Arsenal at Villa Park.
Bailey, who provided the crucial assist for John McGinn’s seventh-minute goal, raised eyebrows when he did not emerge from the tunnel for the second half.
Emery addressed the situation in the post-match press conference, providing insight into Bailey’s condition. Despite the initial worry among Villa fans, Emery hinted that fatigue rather than injury might be the reason for the substitution.
“He was tired, completely tired! Hopefully, he’s not injured, but I don’t know exactly,” Emery reassured, offering a glimmer of hope regarding Bailey’s well-being.
Bailey’s impactful performance against Arsenal came on the heels of his winning goal against Manchester City last Wednesday night. His ability to make a difference in crucial matches has quickly endeared him to Villa supporters.
However, the Jamaican international has battled injury concerns since joining Aston Villa from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 2021. Despite these challenges, Bailey has remarkably missed just one league match throughout the season, sitting out the 6-1 win over Brighton and Hove Albion back in September.
The timing of Bailey’s potential setback raises questions about his availability for the upcoming Europa Conference League clash against Zrinjski on Thursday night.
The hope is that Bailey’s early substitution against Arsenal was a precautionary measure to manage fatigue rather than a recurrence of his injury struggles. As Villa pursues success on multiple fronts, including European competition, the fitness of key players like Leon Bailey remains a critical factor in their aspirations for a successful campaign.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has told Emile Smith Rowe to use his latest injury setback as fuel to return to action better than ever.
Smith Rowe has been sidelined with a knee injury and has not featured since a 5-0 win over Sheffield United on October 28.
The England international is back among the squad and has travelled to the Netherlands for Arsenal’s Champions League group-stage dead rubber at PSV Eindhoven on Tuesday.
Both sides have already qualified for the last 16 and the Gunners are also assured of advancing in top-spot.
It remains to be seen what role, if any, Smith Rowe will fulfil on Tuesday but, asked if Smith Rowe needs to start again following another injury lay-off as he aims to keep fit for a prolonged period, Arteta replied:: “I think what he’s been through is part of the experience that 90 per cent of footballers have to go through.
“Difficulties, injuries, setbacks and different types of performances now. That’s all in his bag now. If he can use that in a powerful way he’ll be a much better player.
“The way he’s done his rehab, I haven’t seen him do it before like how he’s done it this time. You see the way his team-mates reacted to his comeback which is really positive as well.
“The moment we can give him chances, the better we’re going to be.”
While Arteta admits the job of qualifying for the knockout stages is “technically done” he insists he and his players have a “duty” to try and win every game.
Smith Rowe may have travelled but his England colleague and fellow academy graduate Bukayo Saka has stayed behind.
“He is fine,” Arteta told reporters during Monday’s pre-match media conference.
“With a few of them we decided to have another day recovery just 48 hours before and he has played a lot of minutes so it wasn’t worth exposing him.
“We have five or six big injuries so we are already a bit thin.
“I don’t know in another context what I would have done but I also want everyone together with the mentality to win. I want to see that in their tummies tomorrow.”
Among the next group of players progressing through Arsenal’s Hale End set-up, Reuell Walters, Ethan Nwaneri and Lino Sousa have all been taken to the Netherlands by Arteta.
Asked if it has become harder to blood youngsters while challenging for honours, the Spaniard replied: “It gets harder and harder. So the talent has to be really good.
“(They are) three big prospects. We want to keep developing players from our system.
“They deserve to be here. There are circumstances that have brought them here. We will try to give them the opportunity if we can in the right moment.”
Carlo Ancelotti says he is not planning major player rotation for Tuesday’s final Champions League group game against Union Berlin in Germany.
Real have already won their group and reached the last 16 following five successive victories.
They are the only team in the tournament with a 100 per cent record, but, even though it is an emphatic case of job done, manager Ancelotti does not envisage wholesale changes.
Real drew 1-1 at Real Betis on Saturday and Ancelotti said: “We need to evaluate how the players that played against Betis recover, then we will choose the best possible starting XI.
“If there are some tired players who don’t recover very well, they will rest, but we don’t think about a big rotation with a lot of players resting.
“We will rotate some players if we see any risk, if the players are tired. The ones who played and don’t have any fatigue will be no problem at all.
“Our main goal was to finish top of the group, so we want to put in a good performance and close out the group stage on a high.
Ancelotti has confirmed that Kepa Arrizabalaga will start in goal, but a lengthy list of injury absentees includes keeper Thibaut Courtois, Vinicius Junior and Eduardo Camavinga.
“This is a very special competition,” Ancelotti added at his pre-match press conference in Berlin.
“Real Madrid are always favourites to win this competition whatever happens in the group stage.
“It is always difficult to win it, but we have the quality to fight for it until the end.”
Whether in-form England star Jude Bellingham, who has scored 16 goals in the Champions League and LaLiga this season, is rested or not remains to be seen.
But his stunning impact since moving to Real is not lost on his team-mates, least of all midfielder Lucas Vazquez.
“What a player. We are thrilled to have him here,” Vazquez told Real Madrid’s official website.
“The kind of player he is was clear from day one. He helps the team with his goals and works as hard as anyone.
“He is really enjoying Real Madrid, and I hope he can keep up his form and continue helping Madrid in every facet of the game.
“The team is on a great run, it’s been a strong start to the season. The aim is to finish with a 100 per cent record, so we will try and put on a good display and win the game.
“This season, despite all the injuries we’ve had, the team has not faltered from its winning mentality.
“Whoever plays, the team remains the same and that reflects very well on the group we have here.”
Thomas Tuchel has warned Manchester United there will be no let-up as already-qualified Bayern Munich attempt to extinguish the Old Trafford giants’ European hopes.
The perennial Bundesliga champions opened Group A with a 4-3 home win against the Red Devils and went on to seal progress to the Champions League knockout phase with two matches to spare.
Bayern are among the favourites to win a competition that United will be out of on Tuesday unless they seal a home win while Copenhagen and Galatasaray draw in the other final group game.
Erik ten Hag’s men would be guaranteed of at least Europa League football if they win a match that Tuchel says his side will approach with full focus despite wrapping up top spot.
“I understand that some people thought that against Copenhagen it looked like we weren’t throwing everything into it,” the Bayern boss said, referring to the 0-0 home draw a fortnight ago.
“But when you sign for Bayern or United, you sign to give 100 per cent every day.
“When you wear the Bayern Munich jersey, you behave like champions, there’s no other way.
“We have high expectations, even if we are always under pressure. United will give everything tomorrow to get through.
“But we expect a top performance from us. I hope we can match United’s enthusiasm and energy, which I’m sure they’ll bring to the game.”
United are not only desperate to stay in Europe but also determined to atone for Saturday’s shocking 3-0 home defeat to Bournemouth, which saw Ten Hag’s inconsistent side booed off the field.
“They’re always a dangerous team, they have a certain aura about them,” said Tuchel of United as Bayern look to maintain their competition record unbeaten 39-match run in the group stage.
“It’s part of the club’s DNA that they can survive difficult moments. They have ups and downs in their game, but they’ve conceded a lot of goals recently.
“In strong moments, you can see what they’re really capable of. The stadium creates special moments. It will be a big challenge for us.”
Bayern are looking to bounce back from a shocking loss of their own, having lost 5-1 at Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday afternoon.
It was their first Bundesliga defeat of the season and third in all competitions – losses they bounced back from with 4-0 away victories on both occasions.
Bayern sharpshooter Harry Kane admitted their performance against Frankfurt “wasn’t good enough” and said the group was fully focused on showing the “right reaction” at Old Trafford.
The England captain has hit the ground running and scored 22 goals since joining from Tottenham during a summer he was strongly linked to long-term admirers United.
“Every fan wants Harry to play in their team,” former Chelsea boss Tuchel said. “We’re very proud we were able to sign Harry.
“He’s a great character and a great role model, a terrific player. He scores a lot of goals and will be very happy to play here tomorrow.
“It’s a great story that we were able to bring the England captain, your centre forward, to Germany.”

Dec 09, 2023 EPL
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