Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta called predecessor Unai Emery the ‘most successful’ manager in the Europa League after the Gunners booked a place in the competition’s semi-finals where they will face Emery’s Villarreal, having thrashed Slavia Prague in the quarter-final second leg.
Alexandre Lacazette took on a captain’s role in the Czech capital. The Arsenal skipper directly stared at the Slavia players, who remained standing, while taking a knee before kick-off in a powerful anti-racism protest, and went on to score twice in a 4-0 win.
The result, wiping out any doubts from the 1-1 first leg in London, sets up a semi-final tie against Villarreal in two weeks’ time. That means a reunion with former manager Emery, who was sacked by Arsenal in November 2019 and has been at Villarreal since last July.
The Spanish club have won all six legs of the knockout ties they have played so far this season, while Emery has won the trophy three times before with Sevilla, all in consecutive years. He also took Arsenal to the final in 2019 at the end of the first season with the club.
“It will be really tough and Unai Emery is probably the most successful manager in this competition,” Arteta told BT Sport as he looked ahead to the next round.
“There is still a lot to do and things we can improve on, but we have a real desire to improve and be better every day."
Arteta was particularly impressed by how his Arsenal team approached the second leg.
"We started really well in a convincing way, aggressive in our high press," he said. “We looked a threat all the time. I really like the reaction of the team to the goal being disallowed. We scored some great goals. The clean sheet is important as well, the second one in two games.”
“We just spoke with him. He's at home, he's fine, he's completely fine at the moment. He had two days in hospital to get the right treatment but he's feeling good now,” Arteta said, via Arsenal.com.
“We'll see how he recovers. I think he'll need a few days to recover from that. He wants to be back as soon as possible, that's what he said to me.”