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Karine Grigoryan

26-04-2021 | 14:39 Football
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Unai Emery praises Arsenal players and Mikel Arteta ahead of Europa League semi-final

  Villarreal manager Unai Emery has praised a number of his former Arsenal players as well as Mikel Arteta ahead of the Europa League clash. Emery's current side will face the Gunners in the semi-finals on Thursday for the first leg, Emery coached Arsenal from 2018 to 2019 as he later, in 2020, became the head coach at Villarreal. "Arsenal’s history is renowned throughout the world," Emery told UEFA. "I am lucky enough to have coached over there, although it ended in unwanted circumstances. "I have great memories from my time at Arsenal. We experienced great moments together on the pitch, like reaching and preparing for the [Europa League] final against Chelsea. Those are great memories but now we are on different teams. "There are a lot of players that are still there, players who started their careers with me as their coach. I always tell this little anecdote about Bukayo Saka. "He made his [Premier League] debut on 1 January [2019] against Fulham, which I remember we won 4-1. I think it kicked off at 12:30, and he played the last eight to ten minutes and didn’t touch the ball. Now he’s establishing himself at a high level. "Many of the players I coached are still there. I have fond memories of them: Hector Bellerin, [Calum] Chambers, [Rob] Holding: exceptional guys; [Mohamed] Elneny, who is an extraordinary player and an extraordinary person. "They have [Alexandre] Lacazette, [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang, [Gabriel] Martinelli, who is becoming more important now after a serious injury. "[Nicolas] Pepe is also an important player, who I think is settling and getting more and more confident. "Then you have the younger players such as [Emile] Smith Rowe. Smith Rowe played the pre-season with us at the age of 17, and he has gradually grown after loan spells away. "You also have [Bernd] Leno, who is a great goalkeeper and good with his feet. He has significant experience." Emery added: "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. "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."   source - Metro / Join us on Telegram!/ Follow us on Twitter!

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