Unai Emery may be relatively new to English football but the Arsenal head coach has revealed he has been watching Southampton for years after becoming a fan of Matt Le Tissier.
Arsenal host struggling Saints on Sunday knowing a victory could see them return to the Premier League top four.
The Gunners lost at St Mary’s in December but Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side go into the weekend in the relegation zone having won just twice since the turn of the year.
Battling against the drop became a regular occurrence for Southampton during the early years of the Premier League – but it was the performances of Le Tissier which kept them in the top flight on more than one occasion.
Those displays were enough to catch the attention of Emery as he was attempting to make his way as a player in Spain before his career was cut short by a knee injury.
“My memory of him is that he was a very, very special player,” he told arsenal.com
“He’s one player who I would watch when I was watching the Premier League in Spain,” said the head coach.
“He was one player I would watch a lot of movies of. He was very technical, a quality player with the ball and was amazing for the spectacle.”
Arsenal may go into the game as heavy favourites but were in action on Thursday night as they beat BATE Borisov to reach the last 16 of the Europa League.
In contrast, Southampton have not played since losing at home to Cardiff on February 9 – which Emery says he will put a “big demand” on his players to secure three points.
“Like all the teams in the Premier League, they are difficult and they will be preparing for this match with big players and also with time and for us it is difficult,” he added.
“We have respect for them but we need to impose our game-plan and quality and intensity.
“It is very important to get the three points, we are playing at home with our supporters and I want to carry on stronger here but with a big demand from ourselves to find a victory.”