The north Londoners were handed only their second defeat of the season at Villa Park, with John McGinn’s swivel-and-hit in the seventh minute ultimately proving decisive.
Arsenal dominated the contest for large spells, particularly either side of half-time, but were unable to find a breakthrough and Villa are now just one point behind the Gunners in third place in the Premier League table.
There was a curious moment at full-time, however, when Emery snubbed the customary full-time handshake and made a beeline to celebrate with Villa supporters near the touchline instead.
Asked about it at his post-match press conference, the former Arsenal boss downplayed his reaction and insisted it was simply a result of Mikel Arteta not being in the dugout, with his compatriot forced to watch the game from the stands due to a touchline ban.
Quizzed on the handshake snub and whether he approached any of Arsenal’s staff at full-time, Emery said: ‘No, because Arteta wasn’t on the bench.
‘I gave my hand to the workers inside because they were there when I was there, but only with the people I coached with and who worked with me.
‘There was nothing personal. It was because it wasn’t Arteta. I respect a lot Arsenal and Arteta. I respect a lot the workers there. I have nothing negative against them.’
In Arteta’s absence, assistant Albert Stuivenberg was in the dugout with information relayed down to him from the directors box via coach Carlos Cuesta, who had an earpiece.
On his side’s performance against Arsenal, Emery said: ‘I’m very happy. It was a tough match and we were tired, but we started the game well. They were imposing their position on the pitch, but our goalkeeper was amazing.
‘We tried to defend and keep possession longer than we did. We competed and it was a fantastic three points in a tough week. We have to be happy but also keep balance.’
Asked if Villa are title contenders, he added: ‘I will speak again when we are in game 30 or 32 and if we are in the same position as now then maybe I can speak about it.
‘At the start we are not a contender, it is only game 16. We are in [the top four] and must try to keep it. It is difficult, we are not dominating matches [away from home] like we are here.’
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