Bailey: Brilliant Arsenal result a boost for Europa tie

Leon Bailey of Aston Villa celebrates with team mates John McGinn and Youri Tielemans after opening the scoring during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Aston Villa at Emirates Stadium on April 14, 2024 in London, England. 

Reggae Boy Leon Bailey believes Sunday’s stunning win over Arsenal at the Emirates will breathe further life into the crucial second leg of their Europa Conference League tie against Lille on Thursday.

The 26-year-old scored the opening goal in the 84th minute after entering the game as a 61st-minute substitute before Ollie Watkins doubled the visitors’ advantage three minutes later as Villa dominated the second half to come away with an impressive 2-0 win.

Villa head into the second leg of the Conference League tie in northern France with the advantage after winning the opening leg 2-1 last week.

“I definitely will take confidence from it, and I think the team should take a lot of confidence from this game as well,” Bailey said.

“The way we played here, coming to the Emirates, Arsenal are a very strong team with a very good coach. Their structure and the way they play is great.

“But I think the way we set out was so strong, and I think the team really didn’t give up too much, and we created opportunities at the same time.”

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He continued: “So it wasn’t just only defending. I think from this, we should really take this game into consideration and give ourselves a lot of confidence moving forward.

“The way we played here was really good.”

For Arsenal, the defeat put a dent in their title hopes as it denied them the chance to go top, especially with Liverpool losing 1-0 at home to Crystal Palace.

Defending Manchester City now lead with 73 points.

Villa’s victory, however, allowed them to take sole possession of the final Champions League spot, in fourth on 63 points – three clear of Tottenham Hotspurs who suffered a chastening 4-0 defeat to Newcastle at the weekend.

“It was brilliant. It’s nice to be a Villa player and a Villa fan,” said Bailey who has now scored 13 goals in all competitions this season.

“It’s nice to come away to the Emirates and get three points. I think the fans should be buzzing right now. The players are buzzing. I’m buzzing to be able to come on and contribute.”

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