Arsenal fans will be hopeful that history repeats itself with Unai Emery in their Europa League semi-final second leg.
The Gunners welcome Villarreal to the Emirates Stadium next Thursday with the tie delicately poised at 2-1 (in favour of the La Liga side) after Nicolas Pepe’s penalty answered Manu Trigueros and Raul Albiol’s first-half goals.
That means a 1-0 win for Arsenal in the second leg will see them into next month’s final – likely against Manchester United in an all-Premier League affair after the Red Devils smashed Roma 6-2 in their first-leg.
Truthfully, the Gunners will need to play a lot better in north London if they are to overturn the deficit, but Emery ‘s sides have shown in the past that first-leg leads can be difficult to hold on to.
Of course, there’s the infamous Barcelona Champions League comeback against Emery’s PSG despite leading 4-0 from the first-leg and scoring an away goal at the Camp Nou.
And there’s one particular game whist the Spaniard was in charge of Valencia that will be of interest to Gunners fans.
Following Arsenal’s 2-2 draw at home to Crystal Palace in October 2019, some supporters reposted a thread on social media written by a Valencia fan, with the subject being Emery’s tactics during a game whilst in charge at the Mestalla.
Emery managed Valencia for four years between 2008 and 2012 and achieved three consecutive third-placed finishes.
But it was the Spanish Super Cup final second leg in 2008/09 which was the source of this Valencia fan’s ire.
Facing Real Madrid, Emery’s Valencia side won the first leg 3-2 at home, with goals from Juan Mata, David Villa and Vicente.
In the second leg at the Bernabeu, Los Che took the lead before Madrid were reduced to 10 men after Rafael van der Vaart was sent off.
What followed was an almighty collapse, as Valencia failed to hold onto the two-goal aggregate lead. Real Madrid eventually scored four unanswered goals – despite a second red card to Ruud van Nistelrooy in the second half – and won the trophy 6-5 on aggregate.
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In his subsequent tweets, the Valencia fan wrote: ‘Does this sound familiar? Aha! So when I tell you that my problem with Emery is that he’s still showing the same habits he showed 11 years ago…in 2019, you understand. The guy used to park the bus from the 50th minute with a 1 goal lead. And he almost always blew leads.
‘But when I was saying things about this man, many were calling me bitter and throwing “he won 3 Europa League titles” in my face. I get it. He won stuff. I admit too that he’s a very good manager *on his day*. And he deserves credit for his trophies.
‘But he was my manager for 4 whole years. I wouldn’t take him back, ever. He drove me mad. I don’t think you know him more than I do, simply because he put me through suffering for four years. Don’t get me started on his approach in away games. Yes, he was doing it TEN years ago.’