Aston Villa’s upward trajectory under manager Unai Emery is no surprise to Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta who said on Friday he is expecting a tough game when he takes his Premier League leaders to Villa Park on Saturday.
Villa, who put in a dominant performance in their 1-0 victory over champions Manchester City on Wednesday, are up to third in the league. They have won 14 straight Premier League games at Villa Park and have also qualified for the knockout stage of the Europa Conference League.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s game, Arteta lavished praise on former Arsenal manager Emery, telling reporters: “I think you have to give huge credit to them and Unai and the coaching staff.
“They are going to be a tough opponent and it is one of my favourite grounds... (It’s) no surprise. I have followed him since he was coach of Almeria and what he has done at every team is remarkable.
“He has always improved the players, the team and the club. He is Basque like I am. I really admire him. I am really happy for him.”
Arteta will not be on the touchline for the match, with the Spaniard serving a ban following his third booking of the season.
“I think I am in the Directors’ Box, I don’t know, it is a discussion we will have later on. But let’s see, hopefully I will have a really nice view,” Arteta said.
League leaders Arsenal are one of the few teams in the top-flight enjoying a better run of form than Villa, and the north London outfit enter the match on the back of four straight wins, the last of which was a seven-goal thriller at Luton Town.
Declan Rice’s header deep in stoppage time sealed that victory, with Arteta saying that his side’s willingness to fight until the end was proof of their title credentials.
“You saw the chemistry of the players. It was a beautiful moment,” Arteta said.
“I think a team (that wins the title) has to have an unbelievable desire to win every game and I think we have that. We’ve showed it time and time again.”
Arteta said Thomas Partey would not be available for selection, but added that the midfielder was recovering well from his thigh injury.
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