Arteta ready to match wits with 'unbelievable' Emery

AFP , Friday 12 Apr 2024

Mikel Arteta will put his admiration for the "unbelievable" Unai Emery on hold this weekend as the Arsenal manager aims for a crucial win against Aston Villa.

Mikel Arteta
Arsenal s Spanish manager Mikel Arteta reacts during the UEFA Champions League quarter final first-leg football match between Arsenal and Bayern Munich at the Arsenal Stadium, in north London, on April 9, 2024. AFP


Arteta has been impressed by the impact Emery has made on Villa since his return to the Premier League after a disappointing spell in charge of Arsenal.

Emery was sacked by the Gunners in 2019, less than one and a half seasons into his reign at the Emirates Stadium.

But the 52-year-old rebuilt his career at Villarreal and has transformed Villa into top four contenders following his 2022 move to the midlands.

Emery celebrated his 1,000th game in management with a 2-1 Europa Conference League quarter-final first-leg win over Lille on Thursday.

"Unai's had such a big impact at the club in terms of performances and consistency. It is unbelievable what he is doing in European competition and I'm impressed," Arteta told reporters on Friday.

"He's unbelievable and he's done it in so many different countries and he's been incredibly successful.

"He's close to my home town and I have huge admiration for him and I wish him the best after Sunday. What he's doing is really impressive."

While Arteta respects the work done by his fellow Spaniard, he can't afford to lay out the welcome mat when Villa visit north London on Sunday.

Arsenal go into this weekend on top of the Premier League, but they could be in third place by kick off against Villa.

Second placed Liverpool, behind Arsenal on goal difference, and third placed Manchester City, one point adrift of the leaders, are at home to Crystal Palace and Luton respectively.

Arsenal have to focus on their bid for a first English title since 2004 on the back of a frustrating 2-2 draw with Bayern Munich in Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final first leg.

Arteta's men needed a late equaliser from Leandro Trossard to keep the tie delicately balanced ahead of Wednesday's second leg in Munich.

Arteta admitted his players' emotions were running high during Arsenal's first Champions League quarter-final since 2010.

"There was a lot to take from the game and especially how we managed emotionally," he said.

"We were very dominant and ahead and in 15 minutes we were behind a top side and had to deal with that emotionally, which is really tough to do and I think the team did brilliantly to manage that situation."

With seven Premier League games left, Arteta could finish the season with a remarkable English title and Champions League double.

Asked if he is relishing the opportunity, Arteta said: "For sure because we can be in the semi-finals of the Champions League and top of the Premier League so every game is going to define what our future looks like.

"We are super excited about what we are doing, the way the team is performing, winning matches, they want more."

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