Unai Emery expects Aston Villa to face a serious test of their European credentials when they travel to Brentford on Saturday.
Villa’s transformation since Emery took over has been hugely impressive and last weekend’s 3-0 defeat of Newcastle made it five Premier League victories in a row.
They sit in the top six and could even make a late run for the Champions League spots, but Emery is keen to keep expectations in check.
He cited the quality of the teams around them, telling a press conference: “To be in Europe is very difficult because we have Brighton, we have Liverpool, we have Brentford, we have Fulham, we have Tottenham.
“The top four is (Manchester) City, Arsenal, Manchester United and Newcastle. To be there is very difficult. If we can win every match, maybe. We have to wait on their mistakes.
“My idea is not to think about it and to think only about the next match because I know how difficult it is to be in the top seven. Brighton and Liverpool are going to play their next matches and, while we’re sixth now, we could be eighth.
“Now is the moment to focus on each match. The next is Brentford. Of course we have our dreams, but our dreams now are not long, it is only facing the next match. We have to try to do good performances and get better ourselves.”
Villa have been very effective at both ends of the pitch, conceding just two goals in their last eight games and scoring 16, while Ollie Watkins has netted 11 times in his last 12 outings.
Emery’s team have moved above Brentford, whose European hopes have been hit by a run of five games without a win, and the Villa boss knows how quickly things can change.
“We have to be aware of why we are in this moment and why we are keeping this moment longer, but also why we can lose,” he said.
“I’m trying not to let them relax or stop. Myself as well, I cannot stop, I cannot relax and I have to be the same coach coaching each match, training for each match, analysing each match like I was five months ago, like two weeks ago when we went to Chelsea.
“We are doing amazing performances away and we’ve improved a lot at home, but Brentford on Saturday, out of the last few matches we’ve played away, is the most difficult challenge we will have.
“They’ve only lost two matches at home – against Arsenal a long time ago and Newcastle, but they were a difficult match for both. Now, Brentford is the team, after Newcastle, with the best defensive structure.”
Leon Bailey, Matty Cash, Boubacar Kamara and Philippe Coutinho all remain unavailable through injury.