Arteta wishes Emery well at Villarreal as he faces up to Arsenal rebuild

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Mikel Arteta congratulated Unai Emery on his appointment as Villarreal boss, while acknowledging his predecessor has left him with a considerable but "beautiful challenge at Arsenal".

Emery was appointed to replace Javier Calleja on Thursday, eight months on from a winless run of seven matches across all competitions that resulted in him being sacked by the Gunners.

Arteta was handed the reins as his permanent successor the following month and has guided Arsenal to the FA Cup final, although a midweek defeat to relegation-threatened Aston Villa showed inconsistency remains.

Nevertheless, the former Manchester City assistant was keen to thank Emery for what has often appeared to be a flawed inheritance.

"Congratulations for the new job, he's going back to Spain," he told a news conference ahead of Sunday's final Premier League match versus Watford – another game where Arsenal will have a defining say on matters in the bottom three.

"He's a manager who has a lot of experience there and has been very successful there.

"We wish him all the best from our side. There are a lot of people from our side who like him a lot and have huge respect for him.

"Thanks from my side as well for what he did here with the players, trying to improve the team and the squad.

"We wish him all the best and hopefully things will go well for him."

Arsenal head into the final matchday 10th in the table, with an eighth-place finish their best-case scenario.

Victory over Chelsea in the FA Cup final is their only remaining route into European competition and Arteta acknowledges they have fallen some way from being a Champions League fixture during his playing days.

"I don't think the league table lies at the end of 10 months and with 38 games gone," he said. "Hopefully next season will be very different.

"We have a beautiful challenge, a demanding challenge but a beautiful challenge ahead of us.

"We have to put this club back to where it belongs, which is with the top clubs in this country and Europe. In order to do that we have to make a lot of good decisions."

A 2-1 victory over Premier League champions Liverpool last week preceding a 2-0 FA Cup semi-final triumph against City has done nothing to obscure this reality.

"It hurts so much, [but] it's a beautiful challenge to bring the club into that position again," Arteta added.

"I know how difficult it is going to be, because we can see what other clubs have been doing over the last few seasons.

"But I am very positive that we are going to be able to do it."