Unai Emery: former Arsenal coach ends Arsenal’s journey in Europa League

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Former Arsenal manager, Unai Emery has led Spanish club, Villarreal to end the journey of the Premier League club in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday, May 6, 2021.

The 49-year-old Spanish tactician who succeeded Arsène Wenger at Arsenal in 2018 did not spend up to two seasons at the club before he was sacked in November 2019 due to a poor run of games.

His misfortunes in the Premier League during the early stage of the 2019-2020 season was enough to rubbish the fact that he took Arsenal to the final of the Europa League in his first season at the club.

Months after he left Arsenal, Villarreal hired him in July 2020 and he has been doing better at the Spanish club than his successor at Arsenal, Mikel Arteta.

For instance, currently, Villarreal is sitting on the 6th spot on the Spanish La Liga table with 52 points in 34 games. While Arsenal are currently sitting on the 9th spot on the Premier League table with 49 points in 34 games.

In his first encounter with Arsenal since he left the club in November 2019, Unai Emery met with Mikel Arteta on April 29 in Spain and Villarreal beat Arsenal 2-1. Villarreal took the advantage of the 2-1 victory in the first leg of the Europa League semi-final round to the second leg and ensured that they didn’t allow Arsenal to score against them at the Emirates Stadium.

After 90 minutes of a thrilling Europa League semi-final encounter in North London on Thursday, May 6, Villarreal drew with Arsenal 1-1 to knock out Arsenal from the competition 2-1 on aggregate.

As it stands, Unai Emery will lead Villarreal to face another Premier League club, Manchester United, in the final of the Europa League on May 26. The final which will take place in Gdansk, Poland is the first Europa League final in the history of Villarreal.

On the other hand, it is Emery’s 5th appearance in the competition as a coach. Recall that he won the competition three successive times with Sevilla between 2013 and 2016.

Unai Emery adds to Arsenal’s devastation

Unai Emery: former Arsenal coach ends Arsenal's journey in Europa
Coach Mikel Arteta and coach Unai Emery.

Arsenal’s woes in the 2020-2021 season have tripled after failing to continue their journey in the Europa League. This means that the only hope left for Arsenal to qualify for a European competition ahead of next season is in the Premier League.

Unfortunately for the club, they are currently sitting on the 9th spot on the league table with 49 points in 34 games, 5 points from 7th placed Liverpool with 4 games to go.

This means that Arsenal might not qualify for any European competition at the end of the season which will make it the first time in 20 years that Arsenal will play no European club competition.

After Arsenal’s exit from Europa League, the coach of the club, Mikel Arteta admitted that he and his players are devastated.

“We are devastated”, he said. “Really disappointed. We have to congratulate Villarreal. We tried everything until the last minute. I think we deserved to win the game but the details define these ties.

“We had three big chances, they didn’t have anything but they are through. So many things happened to us, and so many players were just trying to compete not at their best.”

On why Arsenal lost, he added: “It’s various things. The way we started in Villarreal wasn’t good enough. We didn’t arrive here at the best moment with everyone in their best condition. For 90 percent of them, it was their first semi-final and we have to learn.”

“The only way [to qualify for Europe] is through the Premier League so we know what we have ahead of us. Today is a big disappointment because we tried everything.”