Fatigue takes its toll on Aston Villa after gruelling 50-game season

Aston Villa Training Session & Press Conference - UEFA Europa Conference League 2023/24
Aston Villa Training Session & Press Conference - UEFA Europa Conference League 2023/24 / Naomi Baker/GettyImages

Aston Villa's European dreams were shattered as they suffered a crushing 6-2 aggregate defeat to Olympiacos in the Europa Conference League. The loss dealt a significant blow to Unai Emery's side, who now face an uphill battle to secure Champions League qualification in the Premier League.

The defeat was exacerbated by a mounting injury crisis that has left Villa's squad stretched thin. Emery provided updates on the fitness of several key players, including Nicolo Zaniolo, Alex Moreno, and Youri Tielemans.

Zaniolo, who has been dealing with discomfort, is close to returning but not yet fully fit. Moreno sustained a minor injury and is expected to miss a few days, while Tielemans, who injured his groin against Chelsea last month, is also nearing a comeback.

The absence of key players, combined with the long-term injuries to Tyrone Mings, Boubacar Kamara and Emiliano Buendia, has taken its toll on Villa's performances.

The team has visibly struggled with fatigue, having played over 50 games this season. The impact of the injury crisis was evident in the second leg against Olympiacos, where a depleted Villa side suffered a heavy defeat.

Despite the setbacks, Villa remains in contention for a top-four finish. Their fate could be decided as early as Saturday, depending on the results of other matches. A Burnley victory over Tottenham could secure Champions League football for Emery's team. However, a loss to Liverpool, coupled with a Spurs win, would leave Villa's hopes in jeopardy heading into the final day of the season.

The upcoming matches against Liverpool and Crystal Palace will be pivotal for Villa, and the availability of their injured stars could be crucial. Emery will be hoping for positive news on the fitness front in the coming days as he aims to guide his team to a strong finish.

Looking ahead to next season, Villa will need to address the depth and resilience of their squad to cope with the demands of competing on multiple fronts. The return of injured players will be a welcome boost, but Emery will also need to make strategic additions to ensure his team can sustain their progress and build on this season's achievements.

Aston Villa's Champions League aspirations hang in the balance. The coming days will be critical, with the fitness of key players and results elsewhere likely to determine whether Villa can secure a place among Europe's elite.

Emery and his team will be giving everything to ensure they finish the season strongly and lay the groundwork for a promising future at Villa Park.

The road ahead is challenging, but Villa's determination and fighting spirit will be put to the test as they navigate the final hurdles of the season. The club's supporters will be hoping that their team can overcome the odds and achieve their European dreams, despite the recent setbacks.