Chelsea defender David Luiz remembers his time working with Unai Emery at Paris Saint-Germain fondly and warned his team the Arsenal boss ‘knows how to win’ the Europa League ahead of their showdown in Baku on May 29.
Luiz and Emery crossed paths in Paris only briefly, with the Spanish manager joining the Ligue 1 club shortly before Luiz left to rejoin the Blues in 2016. Emery joined from Sevilla where he'd won the Europe League three times.
That short period left an impression on the Brazil international and he praised Emery’s impact in north London.
“They have done great because it’s never easy to change the manager after many years that Arsene Wenger was there, and then Unai came trying to build a new philosophy and trying to get the trust from the players and the club and the fans, and I think he’s doing amazing,” the 32-year-old told Chelsea’s official website.
“I had the opportunity to work a few months with Unai and he is a great guy, a great coach and a great person and especially in this competition he knows how to win so that is why Arsenal is [in the final], that is why Unai is there at the end, so that is something to realise and take in the right way to beat Unai and Arsenal in the final.
“He is passionate about his work. He builds the team with spirit and passion for the game, I think it was great for him to be at PSG and now also Arsenal because he can speak French and all the top players from his team now, they speak French and it is great to connect with players.”
Luiz, who is in his second spell with Chelsea, believes the English game has improved since he started in the Premier League in 2011.
He believes the change in style of play of English clubs vindicated his playing style which once saw Gary Neville memorably refer to him as a ‘PlayStation footballer.’
“Now in modern football the first striker is the goalkeeper with his feet, and the first defenders are the strikers,” he continued.
“I love that and it is the evolution of football. I remember when I started no one wanted me to play from the back, no one wanted me to kick the ball long and it depended on the style of the coach, but now everyone understands.”
If Chelsea win in Azerbaijan, Luiz will add a second Europa League winners medal to his collection from Stamford Bridge, which also includes Champions League and Premier League titles.