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The former Aston Villa sporting director who is now helping transform Arsenal’s performance culture

All eyes will be on Emi Martínez when Arsenal face Aston Villa at Emirates Stadium on Sunday. The former Gunners goalkeeper will come up against his old team for the first time since joining Villa in a £25million deal in September

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has admitted that he didn’t want the Argentina international to leave, but there is another connection between the two clubs which has contributed to the visible improvement in discipline and work ethic on the pitch for Arteta’s side.

Steve Round is one of the most experienced figures in English football. Having been England assistant manager to Steve McClaren, the 49-year-old has gone on to be assistant at the likes of Newcastle, Everton and Manchester United.

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“I’d coached him [Arteta] previously at another club when he was a player and we kept a relationship going ever since,” Round told Trillium Rose.

“He got offered the job and rang me and asked if I’d come on and join his staff. I had no hesitation for two reasons.”

“One, what a magnificent club Arsenal are…it’s just a great, great football club. It’s a massive club. The other thing that attracted me, was to work with Mikel. I knew he’d need a bit of experience and some knowledge from the domestic game. I think he’s got a real chance to become one of the best coaches in the world, let alone the UK. I didn’t hesitate to join.”

Round’s spell as director of football at Aston Villa wasn’t deemed a success. Appointed in September 2016, he spent two years at Villa where he championed the ‘Villa Engine’ – a project that was centered around pride in the club and a brand identity: ‘Passion, Pride, Purpose’.

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 29: Mikel Arteta lifts the FA Community Shield with assistant Steve Round

Those words ended up becoming empty buzz words for Villa fans as financial problems in the club and a failure to gain Premier League promotion…