Former Arsenal boss Unai Emery has, on Monday, backed successor Mikel Arteta to turn things around and prove a success at the Emirates.
Arteta was of course the man chosen to replace Emery in north London late in 2019.
The Spaniard took the reins from his fellow countryman with Arsenal having looked completely void of a true identity.
Arteta’s first half season, though, whilst far from flawless, quickly saw a new-found defensive solidity instilled, as the Gunners finally appeared to have found their base to build upon.
After a little over eight months in charge at the Emirates, Arteta had already bagged both his first and second pieces of silverware as a manager – in the form of the FA Cup, and Community Shield.
LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 01: Mikel Arteta manager of Arsenal and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal pose with the trophy after the FA Cup Final match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium on August 1, 2020 in London, England. Football Stadiums around Europe remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in all fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)
In turn, after Thomas Partey and Gabriel Magalhaes were brought in for big money over the summer, Arsenal were expected to kick on towards reestablishing themselves as a top-4 contender.
The months since, however, have seen quite the opposite unfold.
After surrendering their FA Cup crown, the capital giants have since slipped to the disappointing depths of mid-table in the Premier League, behind the likes of West Ham, Everton and Leeds.
‘A good marriage’
Despite all of their struggles thus far in 2020/21, though, Arsenal could yet save their season.
This would of course come in the form of a Europa League triumph, an achievement which would guide the north Londoners back into the Champions League.
Standing in their way? Villarreal.
The La Liga outfit have enjoyed a fine campaign to date, led by none other than former Arsenal boss Unai Emery.
Arsenal’s Spanish head coach Unai Emery gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Brighton and Hove Albion at the Emirates Stadium in London on May 5, 2019. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)
In turn, ahead of the semi-final first-leg showdown between the clubs later this week, it came as little surprise when the Spanish tactician was today drawn on the man who replaced him at the Emirates, during an interview with UEFA’s official website.
Emery, though, evidently bears his compatriot no ill will, having been keen to praise Arteta’s efforts to date, amid what he feels is a ‘good marriage’ between club and manager:
‘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,’ the Villarreal boss explained.
‘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 Arsene Wenger so I’m sure he can apply everything he learned. I think it’s a good marriage: Arteta-Arsenal, Arsenal-Arteta.’