Unai Emery has been given the opportunity to restore his reputation with Villarreal

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When Villarreal fired their manager at the end of last season despite getting them qualifying for the Europa League, it was an expression of ambition – they were tired of just being a club everyone admired, wanted instead. they finally win something.

Veterans of four defeats in the semifinals and a second place in La Liga, the club from Spain’s east coast wants a trophy and they had fired a perfectly suited coach in Javi Calleja to enter a specialized Unai ‘three Europa Leagues’ to get. Emery.

Now they are on the edge again. Hoping that this semi-final will be different from the 2004 loss against Valencia in the UEFA Cup, the 2006 loss against Arsenal in the Champions League, the reverse 2011 against Porto in the Europa League and the 2016 loss against Liverpool in the same competition. Emery is their winning ticket, they hope.

Villarreal boss Emery

Emery won three Europe Leagues with Sevilla

Emery won three Europe Leagues with Sevilla

Villarreal hopes Unai Emery will be their golden ticket this season, winning three Europe Leagues

By firing Javi Calleja, it was a statement of ambition from a club that wants to win something

By firing Javi Calleja, it was a statement of ambition from a club that wants to win something

By firing Javi Calleja, it was a statement of ambition from a club that wants to win something

He certainly sent them to the finals well. There has hardly been a hitch along the way, although the competition form may have suffered from it. With 13 draws in La Liga and a nagging inability to beat teams from the top four, they are in seventh place. They could still finish in fifth place.

It was something Emery mentioned in his press conference on Wednesday, but perhaps as much as pointing out his opponents’ predicament than his team’s.

Among the many nice things he said about Arsenal, he left the truth behind: [next season’s] Champions League is open to us. ‘

Emery will now face his former employers Arsenal in the first leg of their semi-final on Thursday

Emery will now face his former employers Arsenal in the first leg of their semi-final on Thursday

Emery will now face his former employers Arsenal in the first leg of their semi-final on Thursday

It was not an excavation, in fact when asked about his successor; he described Mikel Arteta and Arsenal as ‘the perfect marriage’.

But it reminded us that Arsenal are no closer to regaining their place in the top four since Emery’s 18-month stint in the lead cut short. He has moved on, but he will never stop believing that if he took longer, he would have been successful with the Emirates.

Emery’s Villarreal has been inconsistent in the league this season, but there are many promising signs of progress. Center forward Gerard Moreno is having his best season ever and is the Spanish top scorer in La Liga with 20 goals.

21-year-old winger Samu Chukwueze lives up to his potential, and center-back Pau Torres has played so well that Villarreal will do well to prevent Real Madrid from signing him this summer.

Villarreal has been inconsistent in the league this season, but there are some promising signs

Villarreal has been inconsistent in the league this season, but there are some promising signs

Villarreal has been inconsistent in the league this season, but there are some promising signs

Progress to turn Watford fullback Pervis Estupiñan into the final product was frustrated with an injury and failed to get Real Madrid’s loan from Japan international Take Kubo to work, so he was sent back in January.

But if Villarreal are good they are still very good and there is a remarkable improvement which is well illustrated by that narrow defeat to Barcelona which was so much better than the early season 4-0 at the Camp Nou.

Emery’s traits are unaffected by the highs and lows of his career path. His pride was reflected in the frequent mentions of Paris Saint-Germain, Sevilla and Valencia on Wednesday. Why would there be emotional scars after Arsenal if he had already left major European teams like those three? “There’s a corner of my heart reserved for all my ex-clubs,” he said.

He will also have been tempted to answer Wednesday’s questions in English, just to remind us how he learned the language. In an interview with Sportsmail a year ago, with the wounds still fresh from his discharge, he said he felt he hadn’t always gotten the backlash he deserved.

Gerard Moreno (second right) and Samu Chukwueze (third from right) are in good shape

Gerard Moreno (second right) and Samu Chukwueze (third from right) are in good shape

Gerard Moreno (second right) and Samu Chukwueze (third from right) are in good shape

“Okay, so I said” Good Ebening. ” I had to practice my accent so that it was more “Good evening” than “Good Ebening”. But when I said “Good Ebening” after a good result it was just a joke, when we were losing it was a shame. ‘

Emery remains a headstrong coach. He was teased earlier this season for struggling with Chukwueze’s ruling. He is also the target of the country’s top sport impersonator Raul Perez, who brilliantly mimics his traffic cop gestures technically.

But as Arsenal manager Arteta did everything he could, he also has a big heart.

‘I know a lot of people who work with him and they all say the same thing: he’s a fantastic man, a great manager, but they also highlight the man behind it,’ Arteta said when he revealed Emery called him when he took it in late 2019 from him.

Emery has moved on from Arsenal but continues to believe he could have been a success

Emery has moved on from Arsenal but continues to believe he could have been a success

Emery has moved on from Arsenal but continues to believe he could have been a success

Emery said the chat was set up by a mutual friend rather than arranged by him, and it was just as much about listing his home in Barnet as anything else. But you can imagine that the topic of accommodation in London will soon be replaced by formations and tactics.

Emery stays as intense as ever. Arriving bright and early for practice on Wednesday, he also saw a player early for an interview and took advantage of having a one-on-one session with him to the point where the player’s interview had to be postponed.

Despite everything he’s played in the last few days, there’s no question how much he wants to win this game. “It is true that I know some of their players,” he said. “But I have to translate that knowledge to my own players.”

He will have left no stone unturned to do just that in the lead up to Thursday’s game.

Emery also described successor Mikel Arteta and Arsenal as 'the perfect marriage'

Emery also described successor Mikel Arteta and Arsenal as 'the perfect marriage'

Emery also described successor Mikel Arteta and Arsenal as ‘the perfect marriage’

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