The first semi-final of this season’s Champions League produced a classic between Manchester City and Real Madrid but the second may leave some Arsenal fans looking on with envy.
Tonight (Wednesday) sees quadruple chasing Liverpool welcome the competition’s surprise package Villarreal to Anfield, as Jurgen Klopp hopes to succeed where Juventus boss Max Allegri and Bayern Munich’s Julian Nagelsmann failed in the round of 16 stage and quarter-finals, respectively, by overcoming Unai Emery.
The Spaniard has impressively rebuilt his reputation since Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke made the decision to sack him in November 2019 after 18 months in charge as he has now won the Europa League with Villarreal and is potentially two games away from reaching a Champions League final.
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On the surface, that decision is one that Kroenke might be regretting right now with regards to Mikel Arteta’s three-year Champions League plan and former Liverpool defender Jose Enrique believes the Gunners weren’t patient enough with Emery.
“I love Unai Emery. He lives the game, he’s a tactical manager who really studies the game and I know because I see the games and I know players that have played under him in the past and they play under him now,” Enrique said when speaking to Lord Ping. “They tell me how it is and I believe Arsenal were not patient enough with him.”
We will never know if Emery would have replicated his Villarreal achievements with Arsenal had he been given more time, but Enrique’s belief that Arteta has proven to be a ‘top manager’ may suggest there’s no reason for Kroenke to have any regrets over the decision to sack him as all parties have subsequently benefitted.
“Arteta didn’t start the year well, but he won the FA Cup in his first year and Arsenal put their trust in him, gave him the budget and the players that he wanted, and then he delivered,” Enrique added. “People work really hard for the team and he’s proof that he’s a top manager.
“I remember Liverpool with Klopp, now they’re so happy but actually when they drew against West Brom [in December 2015] and he went to the fans with all the players and lots of clubs were mocking Liverpool for doing that, but look what he has achieved now.”
With that said, any Arsenal fan can be forgiven for wondering what could have been if Emery leads Villarreal to the Champions League final. Although, the Gunners are well placed to end their five-year absence from the competition as they currently sit fourth in the Premier League table with five games to go.
Source by Football London