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Unai Emery’s plan to beat Man Utd was so top secret he only told Aston Villa players moments before kick-off

UNAI EMERY’s plan to beat Manchester United was so top secret that he did not even tell his own players until just before kick-off.

Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins revealed new boss Emery kept them guessing on Sunday – by only naming his team on the day of the game.

Emery’s late masterplan came off against United

Ex-Arsenal manager Emery took charge for the first time – and saw Villa pull off a commanding 3-1 over Manchester United.

The Spaniard set up with a 4-2-2-2 formation they had never used before – and it caught United napping.

But Watkins admitted the Spaniard kept the squad in the dark until the last minute.

He said: “No-one had a clue who was playing.

“It was a guessing game but everyone bought into it and we were all involved. 

“We found out the team in our team meeting, which was at about 11.30.

“Some people leave it late, but normally, previous managers have done it the day before, or let you know in some way. 

“But no matter what team he put out, it was going to be the same result at the end of the day. 


“Everyone worked hard, was willing to work hard and bought into the game plan.”

Watkins says Emery’s style of football is different to what they had been playing before.

Steven Gerrard was sacked last month after a poor start to the season.

Watkins added: “Before there were a lot of long balls to me and Danny Ings and we were battling with the defenders. 

“We used a lot of energy through battling.

“Now, when the ball comes into us, because defenders are taking time on the ball and we’re making more passes, it’s easier for us because we’ve got more time. 

“It was more just to take time on the ball, suck them in, then it gives others time on the ball. 

“It was 4-4-2 and we weren’t overloaded with information.

“Against the big teams, I don’t know why, we seem to put in a good performance. But we need to do that every week. 

“We didn’t just win on Sunday, we won with style and it wasn’t one of those where we ground it out.”

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