Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta reveals he sought advice from Unai Emery before being handed job as his replacement last year
MIKEL ARTETA sought the advice of Unai Emery before agreeing to take over from his fellow Spaniard as Arsenal manager.
But rather than warning Arteta not to touch the Emirates vacancy with a bargepole, Emery was more interested in finding a new tenant for his London house.
The two men will meet face to face on Thursday night when the Gunners travel to Villarreal for the first leg of their Europa League semi-final.
And no-one understands the size of the task facing Arteta better than the man who spent 18 months trying to replace Arsene Wenger before being sacked in November 2019.
Recalling that surprise telephone conversation shortly before Arteta’s appointment, Emery reveals: “A common friend interceded and it was good for me because I had to leave my home in London.
“So apart from talking about football and my job at Arsenal, I suggested he take over my house, although in the end it was a player who took it.
“Of course I knew Arteta from before. He is from San Sebastian, just like me, so we were practically neighbours.
“So in the call we spoke a little bit about my time at Arsenal, in a positive way, and what I had lived through.
“I just wanted to tell him about my experience there, what I thought could be helpful for him and maybe one or two things that could be improved in a personal way.”
Arteta added: “Unai was very open, honest and helpful and I was very grateful to him because a conversation like that is not something that is very common.
"I know a lot of people who have been around him and they all say that he is a fantastic man and a great manager.
“It didn’t work out for him at Arsenal but he did a lot of good things for the club and in his time here he reached a European final and was competing for a place in the Champions League.”
Emery was in charge of Arsenal for a total of 78 games in all competitions, a figure which Arteta matched with last Friday’s 1-0 home defeat by Everton.
And considering that Emery actually has a better record than the man who replaced him, he would have good reason to feel bitter.
Yet the man who won the Europa League three times with Sevilla insists he has no regrets about his brief time in England.
He says: “We all have our pride and internal ego but because of my experiences with PSG, Arsenal, Sevilla and Valencia I have learned how to manage all the emotional moments that come with the position of coach.
“My time at Arsenal is behind me but I always keep a piece of my heart for all the teams I have played for or managed.
“I will always be grateful to Arsenal and just remember the good stuff which allowed me to grow and gave me a lot of experience to use at Villarreal.
“Everyone knows Arsenal is a great club and Mikel Arteta is a great manager, so it’s a perfect marriage.
“I think he should build on the improvements that I tried to work on but wasn’t allowed to continue.
“Arsenal should be fighting for Champions League spots so they need to trust Arteta and have patience to execute a game plan because with patience and confidence they will make it.”
Winning the Europa League is now Arsenal’s only realistic opportunity of extending a 26-year run of European qualification.
EMERY VS ARTETA
Here’s how current boss Mikel Arteta and predecessor Unai Emery measure up in terms of stats as Arsenal boss
ARTETA: Played 78 Won 41 Drew 15 Lost 22
EMERY: Played 78 Won 43 Drew 16 Lost 19
And Arteta is confident that his inconsistent team will thrive on the pressure in the Estadio de la Ceramica this evening.
He says: “In the moments of big pressure when the players had to deliver, they have done it.
“Not only in the FA Cup against Manchester City and Chelsea last year and when we won the Community Shield against Liverpool, but also in some moments in the Europa League this season.
“There have been times in this competition when the tie has been against us and we found a way to go through.
“So we are extremely excited to be playing this game, knowing that this tie will take us to the final if we do the right things.
“We have a tough opponent in front of us but we really want to get to the final.”
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VILLARREAL (4-4-2): Rulli; Foyth, Albiol, Torres, Pedraza; Trigueros, Parejo, Capoue, Chuckweze; Moreno, Alcacer.
ARSENAL (4-2-3-1): Leno; Chambers, Holding, Mari, Xhaka; Partey, Ceballos; Saka, Smith Rowe, Pepe; Aubameyang.
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