A year and 5 months have passed since Arsenal sacked Unai Emery following poor results and a winless run of seven games. He was in charge for only 17 months. Wounds will be reopened when his Villarreal team face Arsenal tonight in the Europa League semi-final.
Emery has already gotten the upper hand on his former employers in the first leg. His Villarreal side overpowered the Gunners and took a 2-1 lead. In fact, it could have been better if not for Leno’s heroics and a soft penalty Arsenal got. A 2-1 lead is however not reliable in European Football. Emery who has won the Europa League 3 times with Sevilla will be hoping his side can finish the job tonight. If Villarreal knock Arsenal out, it would be sweet revenge for the Spanish coach who still feels unjustly done.
Arsenal meanwhile will be desperate to reach the Europa League final. The closest they came to winning a European Title recently was the 4-1 loss to Chelsea in the 2019 final. Unai Emery was of course in charge then. This season however, getting to the final and wining the Europa League carries far more importance. It is Arsenal’s last chance of a trophy in what has been a disastrous season for Mikel Arteta’s team. The Gunners crashed out of all tournaments and are 9th on the Premier League table with only 4 matches left. Winning the Europa League would also get the Gunners into the Champions League. That would be a delight for fans of Arsenal who last played in the Champions League in 2017.
With a 2-1 lead and a foot in the final of a trophy he is famed for winning, Unai Emery will be desperate to get revenge against his ex-team. He will also be keen to overturn his fortunes and show that he’s still a good manager despite his Arsenal woes.