Granit Xhaka says Unai Emery’s experience in Europa League finals can help take some of the pressure off the team, and he thinks the head coach is having a great first season.
Speaking to the media ahead of the Europa League final on Wednesday night, Xhaka discussed Emery’s vast experience in the competition.
The Spanish head coach is the joint-most successful manager in UEFA Cup/Europa League history, lifting the trophy on three separate occasions with Sevilla. A win on Wednesday would make the Arsenal boss the first head coach to be a Europa League champion four times.
Xhaka says it’s not something the squad have really discussed, but they know that history will help.
“We don’t speak about it to each other but he speaks with us about his own experience and how he won the trophy three times,” Xhaka said. “It’s a lot. I think he would be the first coach if wins a fourth so it’s nice if you are alone at the top, yeah.
“(Emery brings) a lot of experience, if you are three times in the final in the Europa League you have a lot of experience, know how you’ll feel…He takes away the pressure, but if you are in a final there is always pressure.”
Talking more generally about Emery’s first year with Arsenal, Xhaka admitted it’s not easy to follow someone like Arsene Wenger. However, the Swiss midfielder thinks Emery is doing a good job, and insists he’s enjoyed his time at the club regardless of the individual head coach in charge.
“If you come to a club and come after a coach who was at this club for 22 years, you are new here, you have to change little things, big things, it’s not so easy. If you see his first season, it was great, in my opinion, and if you can win a trophy and go back to the Champions League then I think it’s the perfect season.
“I’ve enjoyed all of my seasons since I’ve been here. It’s not just about Unai. Before also with Arsene Wenger as well.”
On an individual level, Xhaka hasn’t had any trouble keeping his place in the team through the transition to a new boss. Despite a few injuries in 2019, the 26-year-old has made 39 appearances this season, and he’s likely to make another one in the Europa League final. No surprise that he’s happy with Emery then.