Former Arsenal manager Unai Emery has been named as the new Aston Villa manager – but what can fans expect from the Spaniard?

Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy


From the moment Unai arrived, he showed his passion for football. He has a great way of working. It’s the small details that determine games; they are won in the small aspects, and for that you need to be very focused. He’s a hard-working coach and that is why he has won titles, trophies, wherever he’s worked.

The above is a quote from former Manchester United forward Edinson Cavani, better known for his incredible exploits at Napoli and Paris Saint-Germain, on his former manager Unai Emery – who is set to be taking a second crack at the Premier League by joining Aston Villa.

The manager, who has built a reputation in La Liga at Sevilla and Villarreal (notice the trend?) and France at Paris Saint-Germain, but has a point to prove in the Premier League, has accepted the advances of Aston Villa after they reportedly triggered a six-million euro release clause in Emery’s contract.

But with Emery announced to take over at Villa Park, what can fans at B6 expect from the man who was sacked by Arsenal just six months after taking them to a Europa League Final?

He will be the most successful coach in recent history at the club – having won the Europa League four times (three times with Sevilla, once with Villarreal), coming runner-up with Arsenal, and winning everything that is on offer to win in France. And, he’ll be arriving having rejected Newcastle just last year after stating there was “a lack of a clear vision” at the club – which bodes well for the backroom at Villa.

Emery favours a 4-2-3-1 formation similar to that employed by Aaron Danks in Aston Villa’s emphatic 4-0 win over Brentford, utilising a double pivot – with players like David Silva and Ever Banega, Matteo Guendouzi and Granit Xhaka and Dani Parejo and Francis Coquelin operating in those roles at previous clubs. He also utilises a 4-4-2 when the opposition is considered weaker, in an attempt to dominate possession.

Aston Villa have a wealth of attacking talent that Emery should be able to get purring – but what about how the side could look defensively?

Typically, at Villarreal, the team would adopt a high defensive line and operate with an aggressive pressing system – allowing them to minimise space and quickly transition into counter attacks. However, in games where high lines would be impractical, the side would defend with a mid-block, with his double pivot covering the defence.

Villarreal under Emery are often an entertaining watch – until they find themselves against a giant away from home. At times, their football could seem pragmatic but turgid as they attempted to grind out results against the likes of Liverpool in the Champions League last season – to some success, mind, as they beat Bayern Munich and Juventus before meeting the Reds in the semi-finals.

Spanish outlets stated that Aston Villa were closing in on the appointment with a deal set to be completed for a “long-term project” and Villarreal sources thought that his time at the Yellow Submarine has come to an end earlier today.

After other managers like Mauricio Pochettino Rúbem Amorim have distanced themselves from the job, and the likes of Sean Dyche have been linked – Emery’s arrival seems to be a positive step in the right direction for the club after what must be considered a disastrous appointment in Steven Gerrard.

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