Unai Emery: The manager who shattered Arsenal's Premier League dream

Unai Emery
Unai Emery / Alex Davidson/GettyImages

Unai Emery, the mastermind behind Aston Villa's remarkable season, has played a pivotal role in shaping the Premier League title race, particularly through his team's victories over his former club, Arsenal.

Manchester City ultimately clinched the league title on the final day, amassing an impressive 91 points and finishing two points ahead of the Gunners. This marks the fourth consecutive Premier League triumph for Pep Guardiola's side.

Emery's Aston Villa side dealt a severe blow to Arsenal's title aspirations by securing two crucial wins against the Gunners. The first encounter at Villa Park in December ended in a hard-fought 1-0 victory for the home side.

The second meeting at the Emirates Stadium last month saw Villa stun the hosts with a 2-0 win, courtesy of goals from Leon Bailey and Ollie Watkins. These six points, snatched from the grasp of Mikel Arteta's men, proved to be a turning point in the title race.

Speaking on the White and Jordan show, former Arsenal defender Martin Keown praised Emery's impact, likening him to a swan – calm and respectful on the surface but fiercely determined to defeat his old team beneath the water. Keown attributed Villa's success against the Gunners to Emery's tactical prowess and intimate knowledge of his former club.

Under Emery's guidance, Aston Villa enjoyed a stellar campaign, securing a top-four finish and qualification for the Champions League next season, despite conceding five goals in both their opening and closing fixtures. The team's performances throughout the season were impressive, considering the numerous injury issues they had to overcome.

Keown, who represented both Arsenal and Villa during his playing career, commended the Midlands club for their significant role in shaping the title race. He recognised the importance of Emery's ability to transform the team's fortunes and mastermind victories against top sides like Arsenal.

As Aston Villa celebrate their return to Europe's elite club competition, much of the credit must go to Unai Emery. His tactical acumen and motivational skills have been instrumental in the team's resurgence.

The experience gained from their Premier League campaign, particularly their triumphs over Arsenal, will serve them well as they prepare to compete against the continent's best.

Villa's decent run in the Conference League, where they were unfortunately eliminated by an impressive Olympiacos team, has provided valuable exposure to European competition. This experience will undoubtedly benefit the squad as they gear up for the challenges of the Champions League.

For Arsenal, the two defeats against Aston Villa serve as a stark reminder of the importance of tactical adaptability and the need to find ways to counter the strategies of astute managers like Emery.

While Unai Emery's impact on Aston Villa's success and, consequently, the Premier League title race cannot be overstated, it was Manchester City who emerged victorious, clinching their fourth straight league title.

As the Villans prepare for their Champions League campaign, they will look to build on the foundation laid by Emery and continue to make their mark on the European stage.