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Unai Emery claims Arsenal past “less important” as Villarreal clash confirmed

Unai Emery insists his history with Arsenal will not distract him from the task of guiding Villarreal to the Europa League final for the first time.

The Spanish club beat Dinamo Zagreb 3-1 on aggregate to set up a semi-final with the Gunners, who thrashed Slavia Prague in the second leg of their quarter-final.

Emery was sacked from the Emirates hot seat in November 2019 after 18 months in the job, having led Arsenal to the Europa League final earlier that year, where they were beaten by Chelsea.

But the Spaniard says his “past at Arsenal” is of little concern as he looks to guide Villarreal to their first European final.

Emery is unfazed by his history with Arsenal as he prepares for the last-four showdown

“Breaking the barrier of the semi-finals is the great challenge,” said Emery, who won three consecutive Europa League titles with Sevilla.

“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.”

Villarreal have fallen short in all three of their previous Europa League semi-finals.

No manager has won the Europa League more times than Emery
No manager has won the Europa League more times than Emery

Who will reach the Europa League final: Arsenal or Villarreal? Have your say in the comments.

But Emery claims they will stick to their principles as they look to go one better at the fourth time of asking.

He added: “We want to continue to play our way, always respecting our rival and not speculate on anything.

“We need to play to win and go into the match with the same sincerity that we’re currently showing. Play the same way and don’t give them chances.”

Meanwhile, Mikel Arteta has heaped praise on the man he replaced at Arsenal, hailing Emery’s impressive Europa League record.

“It will be really tough and Unai Emery is probably the most successful manager in this competition,” Arteta told BT Sport .

“There is still a lot to do and things we can improve on, but we have a real desire to improve and be better every day.”

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