Arsenal boss Emery succeeded Wenger back in the summer after the Frenchman had chosen to leave the north London giants following 22 years.

Initially, it looked as if the Gunners would opt for Manchester City coach Mikel Arteta, who was installed as the favourite to replace Wenger in the aftermath of his exit.

Ultimately, however, Arsenal chose to appoint Emery. The Spaniard had, mere months previously, helped PSG regain the Ligue 1 title from Monaco.

And the Arsenal boss has now revealed that he spoke with Watford boss Gracia before choosing to take over.

Emery said: “So when the possibility opened up to sign here, the first coach, the first person in the football world I called was him (Gracia).

“I asked him some questions about the football here, the clubs, Arsenal and he recommended to me that I come here.

“One day, I also met with David Silva in Valencia last year and he said to me: ‘coach, if you can, come to England, it is the best football and the best atmosphere for you also.’

“We [Emery and Gracia] played together (at Real Sociedad) for just one year in 1996. We sometimes talk away from football and spend time together.

“For example we had dinner, their coaches and with our coaches, one day in St Albans in September.

“We spoke about football here, English football and their experience because they were here six months before us.

“It was a good conversation about football because Javi Gracia is also a football man.

“They are my friends, not only Javi Gracia but also his assistant Zigor Aranalde and Inigo Arteaga. We know the assistant coaches and Javi Gracia and we appreciate them.”

Arsenal remain in the hunt for a top four finish and could also yet win the Europa League trophy.

Yet Emery has insisted it is not a case of prioritising one goal over the other.

“It is not one over the other,” the Spaniard said.

“I think they are two ways we can compete and be ready for both. We can achieve our target through the Europa League or Premier League.

“We can lose in two directions or we can win through both competitions. It is compulsory (to rotate the squad) because there will be some players not ready to play physically at 100 percent.

“Only I know that if we win on Monday it is in our hands because we will be continuing in fourth position but I don’t know – Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea are going to take a lot of points.”


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