MY KOLKATA EDUGRAPH
ADVERTISEMENT
regular-article-logo Saturday, 18 May 2024

Premier League: Aston Villa tenacity gives Arsenal anxiety

Sunday will be the first time Emery has faced Arsenal's home fans since leaving the club, with his previous visit in 2021 as Villarreal manager taking place behind closed doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic

Reuters London Published 13.04.24, 10:31 AM
Manchester United players, in this picture shared by the club on X, during a training session on April 10

Manchester United players, in this picture shared by the club on X, during a training session on April 10 X

Aston Villa's progress under former Arsenal manager Unai Emery has been incredible, his successor Mikel Arteta at the Gunners said on Friday ahead of their English Premier League clash.

Sunday will be the first time Emery has faced Arsenal's home fans since leaving the club, with his previous visit in 2021 as Villarreal manager taking place behind closed doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

ADVERTISEMENT

"What they have done since Unai came in, he has made a huge impact at the club in terms of performance... they are still in European competition and played last night (Thursday). Really impressed by what they have done," Arteta told reporters.

Villa finished seventh last season after Emery joined in October 2022, their first top-10 finish since 2010-11. They are now fifth on 60 points, 11 behind leaders Arsenal.

The 52-year-old Emery also completed 1,000 matches as a manager when Villa beat Lille 2-1 in their Europa Conference League quarter final, first leg on Thursday.

"Unbelievable. And he's done it in so many different countries and contexts," Arteta said.

"He's from very close to my hometown. I have huge admiration and respect for him. Wish him the best after Sunday."

Arsenal lost at Villa in October and, with Liverpool level on points and defending champions Manchester City one behind, Arteta stressed the need to focus on each match without letting the title race be a distraction.

"Every game is going to define what our future looks like," he added. "It's the only thing possible to look at one game, and one day. Because it's the only thing that maintains your focus and determining the task that you have to do on the day."

Apart from some slipshod defending against Bayern Munich on Tuesday, the Gunners have been near-perfect since the turn of the year, but this is now the time when cool heads are needed.

Arsenal's loss at Villa in December and the following slump in form looked like wrecking their title hopes, but have won 10 of their last 11 league games.

In striker Ollie Watkins, who has been involved in a league-high 28 goals (18 goals and 10 assists) Villa have a player capable of denting Arsenal's hopes although Emery will not be able to call on midfielder Douglas Luiz who is suspended after he picked up a 10th yellow card last weekend.

Pep Guardiola's Man City have the chance to turn up the pressure dial on Arsenal and Liverpool and move top by beating relegation battlers Luton Town at the Etihad.

Follow us on:
ADVERTISEMENT