Unai Emery says he’s expecting a big tactical challenge from Manuel Pellegrini when Arsenal face West Ham United at the London Stadium.
The two men know each other well from their La Liga days with the boss, in charge of Valencia at the time, tackling the Chilean’s sides at Villarreal, Real Madrid and Malaga.
The duo also came together when Sevilla played Manchester City in the Champions League in 2015 and in August when the Gunners won 3-1 at the Emirates on an afternoon of fraught action that could have gone either way.
Ahead of tomorrow’s clash, Emery played up Pellegrini’s qualities.
“He’s a very good coach, with a lot of experience,” the Spaniard told Thursday’s pre-game press conference.
“He was the coach at Villarreal and Real Madrid when I was at Valencia. We know each other very well.
“I know he needs time to create his idea with the team. I think they are improving and they also have good individual players with quality, like Anderson, like Arnautovic – who are very good players.
“Usually [Pellegrini has] very offensive teams. They usually play matches with a balance tactically but above all with technical, offensive players.
“I know that Saturday will be a difficult match because we need to impose our ideas but also for 90 minutes, we need to control their players and their tactical ideas. The respect for us to them is very, very big.”
On tomorrow’s test, Emery, who is able to call upon six players returning from injury, added: “I think it will be a difficult game for us and the most important thing for us is that the starting XI and the squad are concentrated on this match.
“What’s most important is the quality of the players on the pitch imposing our ideas against them.
He went on: “We want to find our best performance with the players. Some players can recover their positions in the squad and in the first XI, and some of them we need their performances now.
“Above all, we are going to have one mix of the players that have been playing and helping us with good performances and adapt against West Ham, imposing our idea on the pitch.
“That’s the mix [we need] for Saturday. It’s good news that we can have more players available.”