The former Gunners boss has talked up the talents of the Gabon international ahead of his team’s crunch meeting at Emirates Stadium
Unai Emery has said that Villarreal are “expecting the best version” of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the Europa League while describing the Arsenal frontman as a “killer”.
Villarreal will head to Emirates Stadium for the second leg of their semi-final tie against the Gunners on Thursday night, where they will be defending a 2-1 aggregate lead.
Aubameyang sat out the reverse fixture at El Madrigal to continue his recovery from Malaria, but will be available for selection again when Villarreal arrive in north London.
Emery hails Aubameyang
Emery, who coached Aubameyeng for a year-and-a-half at Arsenal before he was sacked in November 2019, is wary of the threat the Gabon international could pose his side as they bid to book their place in the Europa League final.
“He’s a killer and always will be,” the Spaniard told a pre-match press conference. “He’s back now, and that means the alarms go off. He’s very hard to stop.
“We work expecting the best version of Auba. He’s a great person and player.”
Aubameyang’s record for Arsenal in 2020-21
Aubameyang’s battle with Malaria was the latest in a string of fitness issues which have served to restrict his overall contribution to the Gunners’ 2020-21 campaign.
The 31-year-old has also struggled to adapt to a new role out wide in Mikel Arteta’s set-up, but still has 15 goals to his name through 35 appearances across all competitions to date.
What else did Emery say?
Emery also reserved special praise for Granit Xhaka, despite having stripped the midfielder of the captaincy in the latter stages of his reign at Emirates Stadium following his clash with a section of supporters in a Premier League fixture against Crystal Palace.
Xhaka has since forced his way back into the Arsenal team under Arteta, with Emery delighted to have seen him turn his career in the Premier League around.
“He deserves being in a club like Arsenal and he deserves the respect of the people,” he said. “I thought the same back then as I do now.
“He’s an extraordinary footballer and double extraordinary person. I’m really glad he’s enjoying it at Arsenal.”
Who is awaiting Villarreal or Arsenal in the Europa League final?
The overall winner of the tie between Villarreal and Arsenal will be rewarded with a clash against either Manchester United or Roma in the showpiece event, which is due to take place at the Stadion Miejski in Gdansk, Poland on May 26.
United already have one foot in the final after thrashing Roma 6-2 at Old Trafford, and Arsenal could set up an all-English affair if they can complete a comeback victory against Villarreal.