Arsenal ace Bukayo Saka insists Villarreal manager Unai Emery deserves “a lot of credit” for the work he did during his time in charge at the Emirates Stadium.
Emery spent just 18 months in charge in north London before being axed in November 2019, following a torrid run of form. Although his time in charge of the Gunners will not be looked back on with a great amount of fondness, Emery did oversee the arrivals of Kieran Tierney and Gabriel Martinelli, as well as blooding some of the club’s younger players into the fold.
With that said, Saka has heaped praise on the work Emery did during his relatively short spell in north London, insisting credit should be paid to him.
“For me, Unai deserves a lot of credit for the belief and trust he put in a lot of us,” Saka admitted. “He is a good guy and a good manager.”
Although a lot of the pre-match build up ahead of tonight’s game has centred around Emery going up against his old club and his failures at the Emirates Stadium being the main topic, Saka has admitted that it is going to be an important game for himself and some of the Gunners’ younger players because of the opportunities they were awarded by the Spaniard.
Saka added: “It is going to be a special match, not just for me, but for a lot of the other young players in our team, as Unai gave us our opportunity to play for Arsenal, gave us our debuts.”
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Saka was not the only one to send praise in Emery’s direction ahead of tonight’s highly anticipated contest, with Gunners chief Mikel Arteta, who was installed Emery’s replacement, recalling the conversation he had with him before filling the void he had left vacant.
“He was very honest, very open and I was grateful because it’s not something very, very common,” Arteta admitted. “But I know a lot of people that work with him, a lot of people that have been around him and they all say the same thing that as a person he’s a fantastic man.
“Obviously he’s a great manager, but they highlight the man behind it as well and who he is. In that situation, because it came from him, which is unusual, I was surprised and I was grateful as I said.”