Unai Emery stressed his aim heading into the new year is to get better after Aston Villa concluded their “really fantastic” 2023 with a 3-2 home victory over Burnley.
Douglas Luiz notched the winner against the 10-man Clarets with an 89th-minute penalty as Villa moved level on points with Premier League leaders Liverpool, ahead of the Reds hosting Newcastle on New Year’s Day.
It was the midland outfit’s 26th top-flight win of 2023 and a club-record 32nd victory in all competitions across the calendar year.
And boss Emery, when asked if he thought 2024 could be even better, said: “Always the idea is to improve and get better.
“It was really fantastic, the year we did – but I’m very excited for the next match.
“We have 42 points and we can feel comfortable and happy, but…my expectation for the next year is try to progress. I am going to manage how we can progress.”
He added: “When I arrived here (in late 2022) the message always was get better, try to play Europe, try to be a contender to be in the top 10, in the top seven, now we are top four.
“We are not contented to be in the top seven, top four in the Premier League, but we are in at the moment and if on (match)day 30, 32 we are in, maybe we can think it is our opportunity to get it.”
Villa led at the break thanks to a 42nd-minute Moussa Diaby finish after Leon Bailey’s opener for the hosts had been cancelled out by Zeki Amdouni.
Burnley suffered a further setback with Sander Berge being sent off early in the second half, but it looked as if it could prove a frustrating afternoon for Villa after Lyle Foster drew things level again in the 71st minute.
Luiz then netted from the spot late on following a foul by former Villa man Aaron Ramsey on fellow substitute John Duran, and Emery declared that the “satisfaction is high” with his team having “reacted very well in the first half and the second”.