Unai Emery has had his say on the prospect of facing Arsenal in the Europa League semi-finals.
And they will now face a Villarreal side who are unbeaten in this competition so far this season, winning 11 and drawing once to reach the semi-finals without much trouble at all.
That is, perhaps, because they have the master of this competition at the helm in Emery, a man Arsenal know all too well having been under the Spaniard’s stewardship for 18 months before Mikel Arteta ‘s arrival.
And Emery has already spoken about the thought of facing Arsenal as he looks to take Villarreal to their first-ever European final with a win over the Gunners.
“Breaking the barrier of the semi-finals is the great challenge,” Emery said after Villarreal cruised past Dinamo Zagreb. “The idea of reaching the Champions League through the Europa League is very important.
“When I signed here this was one more process. My past at Arsenal is less important.”
He added: “We want to continue to play our way, always respecting our rival and not speculating anything. We need to play to win and go into the match with the same sincerity that we’re currently showing.”
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Emery will have to wait for his Emirates Stadium homecoming, though, with the first leg set to be played at Estadi de la Ceramica on April 29.
The second leg will be played in north London on May 6 when Arsenal will hope to book their spot in the Europa League final and go one further than they managed under Emery when they lost 4-1 to Chelsea in the 2019 final.
The final of this season’s edition will take place in Gdansk on Wednesday, May 26, when one of Arsenal or Villarreal will face Manchester United or AS Roma.