Villarreal manager Unai Emery has heaped praise on Mikel Arteta ahead of this week’s massive UEFA Europa League match between the Spanish side and Arsenal.
Speaking to UEFA via football.london, the ex-Arsenal boss revealed that he has been impressed with how Arteta has handled things at the club since succeeding Emery, who was sacked by the north London side in November 2019 following a poor run of results and bleak performances.
Since taking charge of Arsenal, Arteta has led the Gunners to an FA Cup triumph as well as a Europa League semi-final, with the Basque manager in need of silverware this season if he is to call this campaign a success following a torrid year in the Premier League, with his side currently say in midtable.
Yet Emery has been impressed with what Arteta has brought to Arsenal, with the Villarreal boss saying: “Mikel 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.
“His first steps as Pep Guardiola’s assistant have helped him to position himself in this new profession, which is being the manager.”
Thursday’s game against Villarreal is easily Arsenal’s biggest of the season so far, and for Arteta, it will be his most important test since taking over the job from Emery nearly 18 months ago.
The former Manchester City coach has had incredible highs and depressing lows since taking over the role as manager of the club, yet getting one over Emery will be seen as a major result for both the players and the fans of Arsenal, who were all eager to see the back of the Spaniard following the end of his tenure in north London.
Emery’s record in the Europa League will make Villarreal a difficult opponent, but Arteta knows that passing this final test and vanquishing this ghost of Arsenal’s past will be one huge step to Europa League glory, and a return to the UEFA Champions League.