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UEFA Europa League: Arsenal's Unai Emery eager to pull one over former employers Valencia

1:55 AM SGT 2/5/19
Unai Emery Arsenal 2018-19
The Spaniard will be reunited with Los Che where he spent four seasons, in the semi-finals of the Europa League...

For a second successive UEFA Europa League semi-final, Arsenal are faced with a Spanish test. But, this time, the opposition is different and the man leading the charge for the Gunners is familiar to the surroundings.

Unai Emery, in his first season as Arsenal manager after taking over from Arsene Wenger, has guided the North Londoners to the penultimate round of the Europa League. They come up against Valencia, the club where it all began for Emery years ago.

In the summer of 2008, a young Emery was handed the reins of Valencia after the departure of Ronald Koeman. Valencia had just finished tenth and were in a massive financial turmoil. The Basque-born manager showed courage to take the job despite being strangled in the transfer market with budgets slashed down.

In his first two seasons, his most expensive signing did not exceed €4.5 million, but he still managed a sixth-place finish in his first year before taking the side all the way to third spot in the subsqeuent campaign.

Despite taking the 2000 and 2001 UEFA Champions League finalists back to the top echelons of Europe, Valencia's transfer budgets did not increase. In turn, Emery had to deal with the departures of Juan Mata, David Silva and David Villa.

Emery managed his resources well and in his final two seasons at the Mestalla, finished third in La Liga back-to-back. Valencia were once again established as the next-best force in Spain behind Barcelona and Real Madrid and Emery was regarded as the best of the rest when it came to managers.

After four seasons at Valencia, Emery left for pastures new. A Russian experiment in 2012 failed miserably as he was sacked mid-season at Spartak Moscow. He came back to Spain, taking over Sevilla in January 2013.

His exploits with the Andalusian club is well known. He became a Europa League expert as Sevilla completed a hat-trick of titles between 2014 and 2016. But he never achieved a top-four finish domestically as he did with Valencia.

After that, it was two seasons with Paris Saint-Germain before arriving at the Emirates. But Emery's record against Valencia is interesting. In 11 games, his teams have won only four times against Valencia, drawing two and losing five.

This will be the first time since 2016 Emery renews the rivalry with Los Che. The 47-year-old will be more than keen to take his new side to the Europa League final at the expense of his former employers.

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