Unai Emery out to ‘avoid’ Arsenal mistakes at Aston Villa - ‘I am better prepared to face a new challenge’

Return: Unai Emery is back in the Premier League with Aston Villa  (AFP /AFP via Getty Images)
Return: Unai Emery is back in the Premier League with Aston Villa (AFP /AFP via Getty Images)

Unai Emery has described his return to the Premier League as “more of a challenge than a rematch”.

The former Arsenal manager was appointed as Steven Gerrard’s successor at Aston Villa last month and oversaw a 3-1 win over Manchester United during his first game in charge.

While a hugely respected manager in European competition following trophy-laden spells at Sevilla and Villareal, as well as Paris Saint-Germain, the 51-year-old struggled to wholly convince in England.

Given the difficult job of replacing Arsene Wenger in 2018, Emery did not lead Arsenal back into the Champions League – finishing fifth in his only full season - and was defeated in the Europa League final by London rivals Chelsea in convincing fashion.

Sacked in November 2019, Emery rebuilt his reputation by winning the Europa League with Villarreal, defeating United in the 2021 final.

Successor Mikel Arteta, however, recently paid tribute to the Villa boss and highlighted that coming in as a direct replacement for Wenger would have been difficult for any manager.

Speaking to Marca, Emery said: “I am better prepared to face a new challenge in the Premier [League].

“I already have a year and four months of experience in this League. I think my first year at Arsenal was nice. It was broken by some things that I have identified that I am now going to try to avoid.

“I have always had an internal objective of having a new opportunity and coming back better prepared and I think that at Villarreal I have acquired a continuity that has made them call me back from England. It’s more of a challenge than a rematch.

“I had to accept it as something very professional."