Unai Emery sends class message to Bukayo Saka ahead of Arsenal showdown | Football


Unai Emery gave Bukayo Saka his debut for Arsenal (Picture: Getty)

Unai Emery insists he is thrilled to see Bukayo Saka thriving as he prepares to renew acquaintances with the Arsenal star in Saturday’s Premier League summit meeting.

The Spanish coach has rebuilt his reputation at Villa Park following a disappointing spell in north London which culminated his his sacking just over four years ago.

Emery initially thrived upon his return to management with Villarreal, where he added another Europa League triumph to his already impressive CV, but it is with the rejuvenated Midlands club where his stock has risen most dramatically.

Wednesday’s win over Manchester City represented another major step in the right direction for Villa who now entertain the league leaders on Saturday evening.

Key to stopping Arsenal in their tracks will be negating the threat of Saka who has emerged as one of European football’s most potent wingers.

The 22-year-old recently celebrated the fifth anniversary of his Arsenal debut and made his 200th appearance for his boyhood club in Tuesday’s 4-3 win at Luton.

Saka is now a far cry from the shy, skinny teenager who made his debut under Emery, but the Spaniard has not been surprised by his stratospheric career trajectory.

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‘They [Arsenal] have always had good players in their academy and Saka was one very good example,’ said Emery at his pre-match press conference.

‘His development was because he had very good coaches in the academy and I helped him and he’s developing a lot under Mikel Arteta.

‘He’s a very good player and he’s a humble person, and I’m very happy for him as a player.’

The respect, meanwhile, between Emery and his Arsenal successor Arteta remains total with the current Gunners boss full of admiration for the man he replaced.

He said: ‘I followed him since he was in Almeria. What he’s done for every team has been always remarkable. He always improves the players, the team, the club and he’s Basque, like I am, and he’s a manager that I really admire for what he’s done in the game.

‘He’s done it in various countries at different levels and has always been successful, so I’m really happy for him.’


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