Unai Emery’s brutally honest Mikel Arteta admission backs up Arsenal decision
When Unai Emery was confirmed as Arsene Wenger’s successor in the summer of 2018, he spoke at length about the style of play that had become so ingrained at the club.
" Arsenal is known and loved throughout the world for its style of play, its commitment to young players, the fantastic stadium, the way the club is run. I'm very excited to be given the responsibility to start this important new chapter in Arsenal's history,” he explained on the day of his appointment.
However, less than two years later, Emery had failed to consistently deliver that kind of football, and when results eluded him as well, the Gunners board made the decision to move on.
Fast forward to the present day and the Spaniard faces off against his former side with a reputation recovered.
Emery, who won three Europa League crowns during his time with Sevilla, also reached the final of the same competition during his time in the Emirates dugout.
However, the 4-1 demolition at the hands of Chelsea marked the beginning of the end of his tenure and he would be sacked a matter of months later.
As for Arteta, it hasn’t gone exactly to plan, with a positive first season only followed by a campaign of mediocrity this time around.
Marooned in midtable of the Premier League, the Europa League semi final against Villarreal, marks their most important fixture remaining this season.
In all likelihood, an exit to the La Liga outfit would see Arsenal face the prospect of a season without European football for the first time since 1995/96.
But when asked to assess the job the man that replaced him has done at Arsenal, Emery was forced to concede that this team is closer to the roots of the club than the one he managed.
"[Mikel] Arteta is putting his own stamp on things – in the way they play, it’s easy to identify he’s bringing back that Arsenal tradition of playing attractive football,” he told UEFA.com.
"His first steps as Pep Guardiola’s assistant have helped him to position himself in this new profession which is being the manager.
“Now he has been given this opportunity at Arsenal, and I think it’s a good place to develop because he is much loved by Arsenal thanks to the time he spent in the team.
“He had his time [playing] there with Arsène Wenger so I’m sure he can apply everything he learned. I think it’s a good marriage: Arteta-Arsenal, Arsenal-Arteta.
"When Arsenal are in form, they are a top team. We’ve seen that this season.”
It may not have been as regularly as supporters will have hoped for, but Emery believes there are clear signs of Arsenal rediscovering their trademark swagger under the rookie manager.
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