Watford coach Javi Gracia has described Arsenal counterpart Unai Emery as one of the world’s elite tacticians ahead of Monday night’s meeting between the two sides at Vicarage Road, as reported by The Standard.
After trophy laden spells at Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain, Emery arrived at The Emirates last summer with the unenviable task of replacing Arsene Wenger after the veteran Frenchman’s two-decade reign in the Gunners dugout came to an end.
But the 47-year-old has enjoyed a largely promising start to life in North London, breathing fresh life into a tired looking Arsenal team and leading them into the quarter-finals of the Europa League while getting the best out of Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alex Iwobi and co.
And Gracia, who knows Emery well from their time together in La Liga, has spoken warmly about his compatriot ahead of their reunion in Hertfordshire.
“What I can say is that, in my opinion, Unai is one of the best coaches in the world, not only in England,” said the former Malaga and Rubin Kazan coach. “We have a good relationship from the moment we played together in Real Sociedad many, many years ago.
“In different teams we have played against each other, as players first and then as managers as well.
“Always we had a good relationship. Now in this moment we have been one or two times to dinner together. He is a good friend and it will be good to see him again.”
Arsenal’s dreadful away record this season is the one obvious downside to Emery’s reign so far.
The Gunners have won just five of their 15 Premier League games outside of the Emirates this season and Watford, who have triumphed in half of their home fixtures, represent a potentially daunting opponent.