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First Team

Three things we learned: Iraola ahead of Villa


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Andoni Iraola sat down with the press ahead of the visit of Aston Villa to Vitality Stadium on Sunday.

Here's three things we learned...

1. Andoni wants to continue pushing

The Cherries have won three of their last four Premier League matches and Iraola earned a nomination for the Premier League's Manager of the Month for November. 

Nonetheless, the Cherries boss told the media that he doesn't want his players to lose their focus ahead of a big week. 

The club have trips to Crystal Palace and Manchester United to follow Sunday's visit of Villa in what is a jam-packed six days.

He told the media: "I think overall we are happy with the performances we had in the last games but we have to continue pushing because we now have Aston Villa.

"We have a tough week ahead of us, three very difficult games, two away and the one we have at home is Villa, who are now in a very good moment, so we have to continue improving our level because I think we will be demanded in the next week.

"We still have a lot of things to improve, we are going to be demanded this week and I think we have to be ready because the only way is to keep improving, the competition demands these things and we need to achieve this."

2. Big respect for Emery

It was evident from the press conference that Iraola holds Villa boss Unai Emery in extremely high regard, making the point several times that he felt the Spaniard is one of the best coaches in world football. 

One journalist made the point that Iraola's record as manager against Villarreal was flawless, until the two games he faced against Emery, losing 2-0 and 5-1 respectively in two matches.

He said: "For me, Unai is one of the best coaches. He's been very successful in various teams, different experiences, different environments, different countries and this is why he's having the results at Villa. 

"Their stats are amazing, they are fighting almost for everything, they're in fourth and two points from the top of the league.

"They are a very efficient team, everyone knows what he has to do, they are very dangerous in transition, very dangerous players up-front and they are all very committed to what they are doing."

3. Shout out for Zabarnyi

A player that has gone under the radar at times this season is Ukrainian youngster Illia Zabarnyi, who has played every minute in the league this season. 

Despite being just 21, Zabarnyi has shown he's adapted well to life in the Premier League and is continuing to get better and better. 

Iraola made sure to remind the journalists of Zabarnyi's age before praising his recent performances in particular. 

He commented: "I think Zaba is really young! We have to realise he's really young and it's not easy for a 21-year-old player to be starting every week in the Premier League against top opposition.

"I think he's improving through the season and he's now in a good moment defensively and we hope he can continue those performances."

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