The careers of David Luiz and the man whose team stands between our defender and a second Europa League trophy win briefly overlapped when they were in France.
Current Arsenal boss Unai Emery had recently left Sevilla, where he won this competition three times, for a new challenge in charge of Paris Saint-Germain when David Luiz returned to join Chelsea for a second time.
Now they are both at London clubs and it was one win apiece in the Premier League campaign just completed. Ahead of our third meeting of the season with Arsenal, this time in Azerbaijan, David Luiz has been speaking about our opposition and their coach.
‘They have done great because it is never easy to change the manager after many years that Arsene Wenger was there, and then Unai came trying to build a new philosophy and trying to get the trust from the players and the club and the fans, and I think he is doing amazing.
‘I had the opportunity to work for a few months with Unai, he is a great guy, a great coach and a great person and especially in this competition he knows how to win so that is why Arsenal is there [in the final], that is why Unai is there at the end, so that is something to realise and take in the right way to beat Unai and Arsenal in the final.
‘He is passionate about his work,’ adds the 32-year-old. ‘He builds his team with spirit and passion for the game, I think it was great for him to be in PSG and now also Arsenal because he can speak French and all the top players from his team now, they speak French and it is great to connect with the players.’
David Luiz believes Emery and all the other coaches at the top of the English game at the moment insist on a style of play and make footballing demands of their defenders that not only suit his style of play, but also show he has been right in the way he has always tried to operate on the pitch.
‘Now in modern football the first striker is the goalkeeper with his feet, and the first defenders are the strikers.
‘I love that and it is the evolution of football. I remember when I started no one wanted me to play from the back, no one wanted me to kick the ball long and it depended on the style of the coach, but now everybody understands.
‘The top six in England, four teams are in the European finals and all of them play football playing from the back, possession ball, creating. Football is about winning time and if you put the ball in the air, you are going to lose time so we try to build from the back. We try to give the players with the talent the ball between the lines to make a difference in the game.’
In three days’ time David Luiz will have the chance to help make the difference again in a European final, having already won the Europa League and Champions League wearing Chelsea blue.