Mikel Arteta says Unai Emery was ‘very helpful’ in a chat he had with his predecessor before taking over as Arsenal manager.
Emery, now at Villarreal, was sacked as Gunners boss in November 2019 and after a brief time with interim coach Freddie Ljungberg at the helm, Arteta was given the job in December.
On Thursday, the two bosses go head-to-head for the first time in a crunch European tie as Arsenal travel to Spain to face Villarreal for the first leg of their Europa League semi-final clash.
The Europa League remains the only silverware on offer for the north London club this season and will provide a route back into the Champions League if they can go all the way and win.
Emery, though, is a Europa League veteran, having won the competition three years in a row while in charge of Sevilla.
Speaking ahead of Thursday’s meeting, Arteta revealed that he spoke to his opposite number before he was appointed as Arsenal boss.
‘I spoke to him a few times, because we had people in common,’ said Arteta.
‘Then I spoke to him before I took over at the club and he was really helpful.
‘He offered me that opportunity which is sometimes unusual. He was very sincere and open. I was very grateful for that.
‘He is a very experienced and successful manager – in the Europa League in particular with what he has done.
‘So there is no doubt that he has the tools and knowledge to manage at the top level.’
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‘That relationship [between Emery and Arsenal] existed and we cannot go against it,’ Arteta added.
‘Unai knows the club really, really well and we know Unai as well and what he did before he joined here and what he did at the football club and that’s it.’
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