Unai Emery – the football obsessive set to land Arsenal challenge

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If reports are to be believed and Unai Emery is taking over at Arsenal, the Gunners squad might want to stock up on their popcorn supplies.

The 46-year-old Spaniard is, like the man he is rumoured to be succeeding at the Emirates Arsene Wenger, a football nut.

Former -Spain winger Joaquin, who played under Emery at Valencia, told The Guardian of his old boss: “Emery put on so many videos I ran out of popcorn!

“He’s obsessed with football – it’s practically an illness.  He’s one of the best managers I’ve had. I worked with him for three years. I couldn’t handle a fourth!”

A near 22-year stint like Wenger’s may be out of the question then, but Arsenal fans would no doubt settle for a short reign were he to replicate some of the success he has had in his managerial career.

As a player, Emery, whose grandfather and father were both footballers, spent most of his career in the Spanish second tier prior to retiring at 32 due to a knee injury.

As a manager, Emery made a greater impact, guiding his first two clubs Lorca and Almeria to promotions prior to landing a job at Valencia.

There were three successive top-three finishes with Los Che before a short-lived, unsuccessful spell at Spartak Moscow. On Emery’s website there are a list of achievements next to each club he has taken charge of. For the Spartak entry, where he spent six months, there is nothing.

Back in Spain, Emery restored his reputation by leading Sevilla to a trio of Europa League titles, the most recent of which came in a final against Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool in 2016.

At Paris St Germain he would win one Ligue 1 championship and four domestic trophies across a two-year span, but there were also a pair of last-16 Champions League exits.

The most notable came against Barcelona last year when PSG threw away a 4-0 first-leg lead to crash out.

The video of that 6-1 second-leg loss at the Nou Camp would have made for grim viewing, as have some of Arsenal’s later performances of the Wenger era.

Emery posted a message on his Twitter account when Wenger’s departure was confirmed last month – a post which has now taken on greater significance.

He said: “Impossible to talk about @Arsenal, the @premierleague and the profession of coach without mentioning Arsene Wenger, one of the references probably. Thank you Arsene!”

For a man so consumed by video analysis – he claimed he spends “12 hours” watching clips for each game – Wenger’s Gunners will now likely be his reference point over the coming weeks.

And though Emery has European pedigree and an impressive CV, Arsenal fans seem unsure if he can produce a team capable of compiling the highlight reels they want to see.

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