'The first person I called was him' - Emery reveals Gracia advice before taking Arsenal job

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The Spaniard discussed his proposed appointment at Emirates Stadium with the Watford boss, who has been a valued friend since his playing days

Unai Emery has revealed that first person he called before taking the Arsenal job was Javi Gracia, who advised him to accept a role in the Premier League.

The 47-year-old succeeded legendary boss Arsene Wenger at Emirates Stadium last summer, after parting ways with Paris Saint Germain earlier in 2018.

He has since managed to steer the Gunners towards a top-four finish with six matches remaining of the current campaign, while a Europa League triumph is also on the cards come May.

Emery seems to have Arsenal heading in the right direction once again and most supporters are convinced he is the right man to restore the club to its former glory.

Ahead of a huge Premier League clash away at Watford on Monday night, the Spanish coach has revealed his managerial counterpart played a key role in convincing him to accept such a highly coveted position.

"When the possibility opened to sign here, the first coach, the first person in the football world I called was him,” Emery told a press conference of Gracia.

“I asked some questions about the football here, the clubs, Arsenal, and he recommended to me that I come here.”

Javi Gracia Watford 2018-19

The two men have been friends since their playing days at Real Sociedad and they still enjoy a close relationship now, with Watford being just a stone's throw away from Arsenal's London Colney headquarters.

Emery continued: "For example, we had dinner, their coaches and our coaches, one day in St Albans in September.

"We spoke about football here, English football and their experience because they were here six months before us.

"It was a good conversation about football because Javi Gracia is also a football man. They are my friends, not only Javi Gracia but also his assistants Zigor Aranalde and Inigo Arteaga.”

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The Gunners are in dire need of a victory over the Hornets in order to return to fourth in the league table, after suffering a damaging 1-0 defeat at Everton on April 7.

A 2-0 home victory over Napoli in the Europa League on Thursday restored confidence ahead of a crucial run-in, but Arsenal's away form has often been their downfall this season.

After Watford, Emery will prepare his side for a second leg against Napoli in Italy, before they host Crystal Palace at the Emirates on Sunday.

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