Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has lauded Unai Emery’s transformation of Aston Villa and said his compatriot improves every team he coaches.
Arsenal travel to face Aston Villa in the Premier League this weekend, with the latter in superb form to emerge as contenders for Champions League qualification. Villa beat Manchester City 1-0 in midweek to record a 14th consecutive home win in the Premier League.
Emery’s side are third in the Premier League table, just four points behind leaders Arsenal ahead of Saturday’s meeting between the teams at Villa Park.
Emery had an underwhelming spell in charge of Arsenal between 2018 and 2019, but has restored his reputation with impressive stints at Villarreal and Aston Villa.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Arteta, who replaced Emery at Arsenal, has opened up on his respect for his fellow Basque Country coach.
“I’ve followed him [Emery] and seen what he’s done for every team, which is remarkable,” Arteta said.
“He always improves players, teams and clubs. He’s a manager I always admire. He’s done it in many countries and at different levels, so I’m very happy for him.
“Tactically, they’re very well set up and they’re brave to play from the back. They’re a constant threat and then you have the atmosphere and intensity of them being at home.
“They fully merit where they are.”
Ahead of the game, Arteta provided an update on the fitness of his squad and said he does not expect midfielder Thomas Partey to return before Christmas.
“We don’t know, it’s a bit early to get a time frame,” the Spaniard said on Partey’s return date.
“If he’s back by Christmas then it will be very fast. We’re missing key players but we have to continue.”
See more – Premier League: Five things we learned