Confusion and disunity appeared to explain the ultimate days of Unai Emery’s 18-month spell as Arsenal boss.
But on Thursday night, the Villarreal supervisor and three-time Europa League winner may have the prospect to get one over on his former membership in a contest that arguably supplied one among his darkest moments with the Gunners.
Meanwhile, fellow Spaniard Mikel Arteta, his everlasting successor in north London, will probably be hoping the primary leg of the Europa League semi-final acts as a springboard in the direction of extra silverware and a powerful end to the marketing campaign.
Having received the FA Cup final time period, BBC Sport appears at if Arteta has moved Arsenal on – or whether or not Europa League specialist Emery can strike once more.
“It is strange how things happen. Emery will be looking forward to this – he will say the right things but deep down he will want to beat them badly. Arsenal fans will be nervous,” former Tottenham and England winger Chris Waddle instructed BBC Radio 5 Live.
Arteta ‘will not be getting the response’
Knocked out of each home cup competitions by January, the Gunners at the moment discover themselves languishing in tenth within the Premier League and heading in the right direction for their lowest top-flight end since 1994-95.
That’s two locations decrease and 4 factors farther from a top-four place than when Emery was sacked in November 2019.
“He’s in charge now but he’s not quite getting the reaction from the team,” Keown mentioned about Arteta on BT Sport earlier this month.
“It seems like they’re not proactive in games.”
But whereas a string of different ex-Arsenal gamers and soccer pundits have additionally delivered damning assessments, how does Arteta’s report stack up?
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While the Gunners have been extra stable in defence beneath Arteta, it has come at a value, with the aspect scoring 25 fewer objectives than beneath his predecessor, regardless of enjoying a sport extra.
Their win proportion has additionally gone down beneath Arteta, who signed Willian, Gabriel and Thomas Partey on the finish of final summer season, plus the January mortgage arrival of Martin Odegaard from Real Madrid.
Comparisons between the 2 bosses aren’t any extra beneficial primarily based solely on this season, with Arteta’s win proportion at 47% and Emery’s at 53%.
The Yellow Submarine – the Beatles-inspired nickname for Villareal – have additionally scored extra objectives, conceded fewer and have higher possession statistics than the Gunners this time period.
Europa provides hope of salvation
Arteta’s Arsenal have not less than hit type within the Europa League, which seems to signify their finest likelihood of enjoying within the Champions League subsequent time period.
The Gunners, who’re the highest scorers within the competitors, superior from the group stage with a 100% report and have since knocked out Benfica, Olympiakos and Slavia Prague.
And whereas the numbers could not bear it out, Emery feels his successor is beginning to have an effect.
“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,” mentioned Emery.
“He had his time [playing] there with Arsene 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 type, they’re a high staff. We’ve seen that this season.”
Emery’s likelihood for redemption
Appointed to take over from Wenger, Emery’s time at Arsenal began brightly.
A 22-match unbeaten run preceded an look within the Europa League closing. But a harmful 4-1 defeat by Chelsea was the start of the top for the Spaniard, whose time ended amid criticism over his strategy and communication.
However, he now finds himself in the last four of a competition he won three years on the trot with Sevilla.
While Villareal have failed to advance from three semi-finals and also lost a Champions League semi-final to Arsenal, Emery has won his previous four at this stage.
“The membership needed to take a step ahead competing in Europe so Emery’s report was a large think about him being recruited,” Spanish football writer Andy West told BBC Sport.
“It could be no shock in any respect in the event that they go on and win the match. They have by no means actually appeared troubled in any tie within the competitors thus far and Emery has probably the greatest central defensive pairings in La Liga.
“Raul Albiol is very solid and Pau Torres is a star in the making, while in Spain striker Gerard Moreno they possess probably the best player in La Liga outside Real Madrid and Barcelona.
“He has been concerned in practically each objective Villarreal have scored since January and might be the most effective ahead in Spain behind [Lionel] Messi and [Karim] Benzema.”
BBC Radio 5 Live commentator Ian Dennis, added: “It [the manager match-up] is an attention-grabbing headline to construct up the tie, however as an Arsenal supporter you might be considering ‘oh no- Emery goes to place a spanner within the works’.”
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