Just how much better is Arteta than Emery? You might be surprised




By Tony Attwood

In May 2018 Unai Emery arrived at Arsenal as the club’s new manager.  He had been manager at Sevilla between 2013 and 2016 and Paris Saint Germain from 2016 to 2018.  He won the Europa League three times at Sevilla, and the French League and French equivalent of the FA Cup and League Cup in his two years in France.  As we’ll all remember he was unceremoniously removed from Arsenal at the end of November 2019 with Arsenal eighth in the league, having finished fifth in his one complete season at the club.

In terms of transfers he is probably mostly remembered for spending €80.00m on Nicolas Pépé in August 2019, and that was the start of his downfall.    But…   and here you might be drawing in a breath because that “but” possibly indicates that I am going to start arguing in favour of Emery…   And yes to an extent I am, because although he spent €80.00m on Nicolas Pépé he also spent €30.00m on William Saliba, €27.00m on Kieran Tierney and €7.10m on Gabriel Martinelli.

Transfermarkt now puts a value of €65m on Saliba, €25.00m  on Tierney, and €80.00m on Martinelli

So let’s do the adding up.  He spent €144m  on four players who are all still with the club.   Their value (using the same source for their value now as for reporting how much Arsenal paid at the time) is thought to be €188m.  Here are the details…


Players Club Transfer sum Value now
€80.00m €18.00m
€30.00m €65m
€27.00m €25m
€7.10m €80m
Total €144m €188m


Of course he will always be remembered for Pépé because the media and some fans love to focus on the bad decisions not the good ones. That of course comes from the fact that the media employ ex-footballers who don’t have the ability to be managers as their correspondents, and they are usually talking with the benefit of hindsight (and some annoyance that no one will give them a managerial or coaching job).

But those figures show that Emery wasn’t that bad a manager in terms of transfers, and doesn’t really deserve to be remembered solely for Pépé.   And indeed we have to remember that Martinelli went training with the Manchester United training school several times, and yet they never picked up on him, so, we are told, his dad brought him to Arsenal’s attention.  Emery virtually bit Martinelli’s Dad’s hand off.

Unai Emery is now manager of Aston Villa of course, wherein he has a win record of 55.56%.  That’s slightly better than he had with Arsenal (55.13%).

So how does this correspond with Mikel Arteta?  Over 180 competitive games with Arsenal he has a win percentage of 57.2%.   Which compares with Arsene Wenger who oversaw 1235 competitive games and got a win percentage of 57.25%

So yes, Arteta has a better record at Arsenal.  But Unai Emery did take Aston Villa to seventh in the league last season and so into the Europa Conference – their best since 2009/10, the season in which they came sixth for the third consecutive year.  Since then they have spent three years in the championship, finally coming back through the play offs but each time finishing until last season, in the lower half of the league.

So yes, some people may remember Unai Emery as a failure, the man who bought in Pépé for a ludicrous sum, and the man with poor English.  When he was sacked on 29 November 2019 the league table read…


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Liverpool 13 12 1 0 30 11 19 37
2 Leicester City 13 9 2 2 31 8 23 29
3 Manchester City 13 9 1 3 37 14 23 28
4 Chelsea 13 8 2 3 28 19 9 26
5 Wolverhampton Wanderers 13 4 7 2 18 16 2 19
6 Sheffield United 13 4 6 3 16 12 4 18
7 Burnley 13 5 3 5 20 18 2 18
8 Arsenal 13 4 6 3 18 19 -1 18


Arsenal were 8th – the position the club finished in at the end of 2019/20, and indeed the position the club finished in, in 2020/21.  Here’s how it went


Arsenal P W D L F A GD Pts Yellows
5 Emery 2019 38 21 7 10 73 51 22 70 72
8 Emery/Arteta 2020 38 14 14 10 56 48 8 56 86
8 Arteta 2021 38 18 7 13 55 39 16 61 47
5 Arteta 2022 38 22 3 13 61 48 13 69 60
2 Arteta 2023 38 26 6 6 88 43 45 84 52


Of course, I am not trying to argue that somehow Emery was a better manager than Arteta and that we should have kept him.  The big problem Emery had was that he had not grasped just how much influence referees have on a game, and how the game in the Premier League has to be played according to the referees’ demands.

That is why the final column above is there: to show the number of yellow cards.   Arteta knew that Manchester City were able to keep using the same players effectively because fewer Manchester City players got close to bans through multiple cards, than Arsenal.  So Arteta taught the defence to defend without tackling, and it was that PGMO thing that Emery seemingly never fully grasped.  It will be interesting to see how many yellows Villa get this season.  And how much their squad is valued at by the end of the season.

8 Replies to “Just how much better is Arteta than Emery? You might be surprised”

  1. Emery is widely acknowledged as not wanting Pepe but Zaha. The board over ruled him

  2. Thank you Silenstan!
    Dude actually wanted Zaha, but the board signed Pepe (just as Neymar was signed at PSG without his approval), and tbh I have hardly heard a talk on him being criticized wrt the Pepe signing.
    Let’s not forget Arteta has been HUGELY backed in transfers and otherwise (which is great), whereas Emery hardly had those, and was clearly appointed as a mere “head coach” and not a “manager.”
    Remember also how he lost out on top four with just a point in 2019.

    I’m not even Emery’s fan and also wanted him gone, but he doesn’t deserve lots of the sticks he got/gets as regards his Arsenal coaching spell.

  3. Be interesting see if The Villa finish higher up the PL than Arsenal this season and it future years!

  4. Tony, check the trophy cabinet of the two mgrs. Evidence provided. Arteta was lucky he was tolerated and backed as long as he was before he turned the corner with Arsenal. Emery was never afforded this and had the impossible act of Wenger to follow… who was also booed and hounded out of the club if you remember.

  5. Andy I’m guessing you haven’t been a regular reader here – nothing wrong with that of course, but it is an issue we have dealt with at length. I don’t deny that Emery was doing a good job at Arsenal in the first season, but the big difference between the two was that Arteta brought in a plan for Arsenal to work as Manchester City have done by reducing the level of tackling dramatically and thus cut the yellow cards which had been destroying Arsenal’s attempts to build regular winning sequences. Indeed the change from Arsenal the tackling and yellow carded team to the team that gets far fewer yellows was dramatic, and the major thing that was happening in the years before Arsenal moved back from 8th upwards.
    I don’t know enough about Emery at Villa, but if his transfer awareness was as sharp as it was at Arsenal then Villa are probably going to keep on rising up the league.

  6. Interesting point to make Tony regarding the tackle/foul/card reduction increasing selection consistency and helping to build winning sequences. However I would view the card reduction more as a consequence than a driving factor. The system, mentality and style of play change/evolution has had much more to with the consistent performances and ultimately winning.

    Arsenal yellows in Prem 22/23 = 59
    Villa yellows in Prem 22/23 = 86 (+1 Red)
    *granted a portion of season was under Gerrard

    I’ve followed Emery at Villa fairly closely and my impression is that there has not been a dramatic increase in fouls/cards. In fact Villa are the most fouled team in the Prem according to The Athletic. This is partly due to Emery’s attention to detail and training of players down to body position when receiving the ball.
    Undoubtedly under Emery there has been a dramatic increase in performances and results for Villa.
    Anyway just some thoughts, interesting article, thks Tony

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *