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Arsenal head coach Unai Emery has revealed he was sat in his hometown with Javi Gracia discussing the upcoming match against Watford when the Hornets sacked the Spaniard.

In spite of reaching the FA Cup final significantly less than 4 months ago, Gracia lost his job at Vicarage Road immediately after a run of seven defeats in 10 Premier League games and with Watford bottom of the table this term.

Arsenal are the guests on Sunday but it will be the reappointed Quique Sanchez Flores in the dugout opposite Emery as he returns to the club he left in 2016.

Unai Emery and Javi Gracia are good friends
Unai Emery and Javi Gracia are very good buddies (Yui Mok/PA)

Emery is a close pal of Gracia, the former Watford boss was the initial particular person he known as when presented the Arsenal job in 2018, and the two guys – alongside their coaching employees – usually dined with each other.

But it was a likelihood meeting in Spain final Saturday which led to Emery getting on hand when Gracia’s news was revealed.

“It’s awesome,” mentioned Emery. “I met him, we identified every single other final week in my town, in Hondarribia, when I was there with my family members.

“I was walking and in front of us was Javi Gracia. And in the moment we began speaking about our match, and we completed it recognizing he was sacked. It is a very good story, yes?”

Emery has also backed Gracia to return to operate ahead of also extended, adding: “He is a extremely very good coach, as he showed final year in Watford.

“The club decided, and I have to respect that. He is going to operate and he is going to continue his profession like he is, like a terrific coach.”

Although he does not have the similar connection with Flores, they have faced every single other on lots of occasions.

Emery recalls when the pair met in the Europa League quarter-final in 2010, his Valencia side losing to Atletico Madrid – who went on to lift the trophy beneath Flores.


“I bear in mind it,” he mentioned. “Every coach, each player, each particular person in football remembers some issues. I bear in mind we drew two-two at residence and we drew – away.

“In the final minute the referee did not give us an awesome penalty for the chance to win. In my way, every little thing that occurred to me is anything to study from, for practical experience.

“Sometimes it is good, at the moment much more good, but also adverse. I discovered from it all.”

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