Emmanuel Petit celebrates scoring

Exclusive interview with Emmanuel Petit: Proposed Connor Gallagher to Spurs move is a joke, Arsenal are not out of the title race and Mbappe suits Gunners more than anyone

Former Premier League and World Cup winner Emmanuel Petit has given his view on this year’s title race – debating whether Arsenal have the firepower to see out winning the league this season.

Speaking to DAZN Bet, he believes Mikel Arteta needs to recall Kieran Tierney and believes the Gunners will draw with Liverpool in the FA Cup.

The EURO 2020 victor has also given his view on how well both France and England will do in the tournament this summer.

Emmanuel Petit Weighs in on Arsenal’s Title Hopes

DAZN Bet: Arsenal just lost to West Ham, so are they out of the title race already?

Emmanuel Petit: No, I don’t think Arsenal are out of the title race. But as I said a couple of weeks ago I think it’s still a little bit too soon for Arsenal to win the Premier League. I think they have reduced the gap with Manchester City, but I think it depends on how they do in the transfer market in January.

“Usually you don’t make a big impact in the transfer market in January, but they are missing a couple of players, something I said before the start of the Premier league and I’ve said that recently as well. I still believe it’s the case because in the last few games, they have looked sloppy and tired, both physically and mentally.

“The fact that Mikel Arteta doesn’t have a lot of options to change his 1st 11 for me, this is one of the biggest problems for him.

“Look at Manchester City for example, they can play without De Bruyne, they can play without important players and they still win games, and they are still very hard to beat.

“So I’m pretty sure Arsenal are still in the race, but it will depend on what they will do in the transfer market.

“They definitely need to add new players.”

DZBT: Who are those new players?

Emmanuel Petit: “A striker, midfielder and central defender.

“But from what I’ve seen recently, I think they should recall players who have been on loan, like Tierney for example, the left-back, because Zinchenko looks a little bit tired as well.

“But for me, the spine of the team is very important, we’ve seen that against West Ham.

“I can’t remember how many times they shot at the goal without scoring. They need a different type of striker like Toney, for example. So the spine for me, the central midfielder as well as a central defender is the priority.”

DZBT: On Zinchenko, he’s obviously technically a very good footballer. But many people felt that he was exposed against Mo Salah quite against Liverpool. Do you think letting Kieran Tierney go on loan was a mistake?

Emmanuel Petit: “No, because he wasn’t playing. He needed to play as well, as a young player you need to get minutes. And I can understand that, his desire was to leave the club, try somewhere else, and get the chance to play.

“But if they can recall him during the January window, I think that would be good. I like this player, I like the mentality of this player. And I think Zinchenko, we all agree that he’s not the best defender in the world. He’s very good, when you get the ball to his feet, building the game from behind, he is very good.

“I like his technique as well, his movements, there is no problem with that. But definitely you can see that he’s quite average defensively, and Tierney is a little bit more present as a defender, he’s more dynamic and powerful.

“So when you look at the games coming soon for Arsenal, but also in February, when the Champions League is back, they will need rotation in the team.

“You could see that during the Christmas period, some players look very tired, so they need rotation and if they can recall Tierney but give him the promise that he will have the time to play for the team, I think that would be good for Arsenal.”

DZBT: You mentioned the need for a striker. Ian Wright has suggested that Arsenal should consider moving for Bournemouth striker, Dominic Solanke. Do you think that could be a solution?

Emmanuel Petit: “Dominic Solanke is not my priority. I think he’s a good player, but he’s playing for Bournemouth and is struggling with the team. I think he’s playing well for Bournemouth, he can score goals, can give assists, but is he really that the striker that Arsenal needs?

“I’m not really sure about that. If I had to choose between Toney and Solanke I would choose Toney, definitely.”

DZBT: And you don’t think there would be an issue with how long Toney has been out from playing football?

Emmanuel Petit: Toney was not injured, so of course he will miss the first couple of games, but he will come back on the pitch fresh in his mind, fresh in his body, and with the feeling of revenge. Because what was done, the sanction, for months without playing, he did something wrong.

“So when you look at the mentality game for Brentford, every single game, I presume this guy is like a lion waiting in his cage.

“So this guy will be fresh mentally and physically on top of it. He’s a nightmare for defenders, this guy is always moving, fighting for balls, and he’s good with the ball. He creates so many chances for himself and for his teammates, he scores goals, he gives assists, so yes definitely.

“And don’t forget that the Euros are coming soon. So if he plays for Arsenal with the Champions League this is something you have to put on top of the league as well. So for different reasons I will go for Toney.”

DZBT: It doesn’t get any easier for Arsenal because they’ve got Liverpool on Sunday in the FA Cup. What are you predicting for that?

Emmanuel Petit: “For me, the most important game will be in the Premier League. Arsenal and Liverpool meet twice in the space of three weeks, when they play each other in the Premier league after the FA Cup tie.

“Of course, it’s important against the top team. But I’m quite confident, I think Arsenal have something to say because I look at Liverpool, and yeah okay they score goals and sometimes they look unplayable for the opponents. But for me, they still have weaknesses in defense. They concede many goals and they concede on many occasions, and if Arsenal can get back the same block, that tactical unity on the pitch and they keep playing the same way they play, I think they can do something on the field.”

DZBT: So if I had to push you for a score prediction, what would it be?

Emmanuel Petit: “I think I will bet for a draw. With every single game they have to play, they still have the same routine that when they draw, they have to play again? It’s too much, they shouldn’t play replays. I will say 1-1 or 2-2.”

DZBT: Jamie Carragher made an interesting point, he said that while Arsenal had very, very good players in Ødegaard and Rice, they don’t have any world class players. And he used Salah at Liverpool as one example and Haaland at Man City as another. Do you agree with that?

Emmanuel Petit: I don’t agree with Carragher about world-class players, because I remember in 1998 when we won the double, we were a bunch of very good players. Some of us were world class players, but even Thierry Henry, when he came to Highbury, he was not a world class player. But then he became a world class player.

“We won the double and then we all became world class players. We were very good players, but not world class players, and all of a sudden it changed because we won the double and then I won the World Cup with France a few weeks after that.

“So I agree when he said they have very good players but you don’t know yet if they can become world class players because they don’t win anything.

“World class players win trophies, simple as that. Do Arsenal win anything? No, not yet. So I agree with him, but up to a certain limit, because I believe that some of these guys will become world class players. Bukayo Saka is one example.

“They’re very good, but they have to win titles, they have to win trophies and then they will reach the next stage.”

Emmanuel Petit spent three years at Chelsea after a short spell in La Liga for Barcelona.

The Impact of Transfers on Club Identity and Fan Sentiment

Addressing the rumoured move of Connor Gallagher to Tottenham, Petit expresses his surprise and concern, emphasizing the deep connection fans have with home-grown talents and the perplexing decision-making at Chelsea. Reflecting on his experiences, he shares memories of the daunting matches against Wimbledon and the unique challenges of the Premier League’s past.

DZBT: Mixed reports coming from Chelsea that Conor Gallagher’s future is up for grabs, and Chelsea fans are very upset. Not just because he’s a home-grown player, but because it’s potentially to Tottenham. Do you understand their frustration?

Emmanuel Petit: “I understand Chelsea’s frustration with Gallagher potentially going to Tottenham. And you know what, I was surprised to read that in the newspapers, I thought to myself, “is it a joke? What’s the point, after asking him to come back from Crystal Palace?”

“He was enjoying his life over there, his game over there, he was becoming a different player, and they asked him to come back to the club. They bought thousands of players and now because they need money, they’re going to sell probably one of their best players, and an English player on top of it.

“I think they don’t learn from their mistakes because it happened with Mason Mount. So what is the point? I mean, it’s very important for the supporters to get some English players in the team. For me, identity is very important.

“If you want to sell Gallagher because you spent more than £1billion on transfers in one year, then you have no idea what you are doing in the club. But on top of it you are going to sell to Tottenham, your neighbors, one of the biggest rivals in the Premier League? Come on guys!

“Is anyone advising Boehly sometimes because I don’t know what’s going on in this club? They should keep Gallagher. Obviously they want to sell players, they have a lot of players to sell in the dressing room.”

DZBT: Up next for them is Preston, Middlesbrough and Fulham. Do you expect anything other than three wins on the bounce from that?

Emmanuel Petit: “I think we will see the real face of Chelsea in the second part of the season and I know they’re struggling. It has been up and down. You don’t turn things around just by clicking your fingers, it doesn’t work like that.

“But I’m pretty sure, and I may be naive, that we will see the best of Chelsea in the second part of the season.

“So yes, the three games coming, I think with all the respect I have for Preston or Middlesbrough, honestly, if Chelsea can’t win those games, stop spending your money. I won’t say there will be three wins but definitely two out of three.

“It’s important, I still believe that Chelsea have a chance to reach the European Cup, not the Champions League, I think it’s too far, the competition is too strong, it’s too tough. But the Europa League, I think they can reach that if they have a good spell, a good dynamic.

“With Chelsea they win one game, sometimes two games in a row and then they lose and they have no dynamic, they need to create a strong mentality. So those three games look easy for them except for Fulham, so definitely they have to win those games.”

DZBT: When you played in the Premier League, do you remember what the toughest ground for you to go to was? Not necessarily the best team, but somewhere that you found particularly hard?

Emmanuel Petit: “Wimbledon. Vinnie Jones. I remember the first game I played over there with Arsenal. I remember when we left the dressing room and I was talking with Patrick and all of a sudden, our captain Tony Adams came and he looked at us and he said, “Guys, today we don’t play the ball on the ground, just keep your head up, the ball will be in the air all the time.

“You only have one or two seconds to think what you’re going to do with the ball when you receive it because if you keep the ball after three seconds, you will be on the ground. But for me, physically, it was probably one of the toughest places to go, Wimbledon. It was very challenging mentally and physically.

“But, if I talk about nowadays, clubs like Liverpool, for example, I think the atmosphere over there and the Derby against Spurs as well is electric all the time.

“But for me, Anfield, when the stadium goes wild you can feel the storm on the pitch.”

DZBT: Back to Arsenal, you spoke about Tierney earlier, but there’s another player they’ve got out on loan, Marquinhos, and reportedly they’re going to recall him. What can you tell us about his progress in France?

Emmanuel Petit: “There is no progress with Marquinhos at all. Nothing, nothing happened. You know why?

“It’s funny because yesterday, the manager, he spoke to the press about Marquinhos. He said, “we are fed up with him.”

“This guy, as soon as he came in August, he left to play with the Brazilian team at the tournament. He came back injured and then now he’s fit, he wants to play again at the Olympic tournament with his national team. So he played only seven games, he didn’t make any impact. It’s been six months at the club, seven games in six months, and now he wants to leave and play for the national team again.

“The manager said yesterday, “We are tired with him, either we keep him with us, and if we do that, we’re going to lose the player, and if we let him leave for Brazil with the national team, we’re going to lose him as well. So on both sides we are a loser. So I told him, “I don’t expect anything from you, you’re free to leave, to come back to Arsenal.””

“I don’t know what Arteta and Arsenal will want to do with him, but to be honest with you, he’s not really the player that comes in my mind to reinforce the Arsenal team.”

DZBT: What other players do come to mind when you think of reinforcing the Arsenal team?

Emmanuel Petit: “Well as I said, the spine of the team, and I know Arsenal has been linked with different players in different positions, and some of them are very attractive. But if you look at what’s going on in Ligue 1, for example, we have a few players that would be interesting for Arsenal.

“Just like Todibo, the central defender for Nice. Nice has the best defense so far in the league, and Todibo has now reached the national team, he plays in the central defense and he’s playing very well.

“And I think he has improved a lot in the last two years. And with Saliba, and the loan spell he had for Marseille, he came back strongly, and now we all know what kind of defender he is. It could be something very interesting for Arsenal.”

DZBT: Is there anybody who Arsenal should look at in January?

Emmanuel Petit: “You may think I’m crazy, but I think Allan Saint-Maximin. I watch the Saudi League every week, and the level is not that great. I’m sure the players are happy with the money, but it’s not very exciting.

“Saint-Maximin is only 26, and I think he risked going to Saudi. He may have received big wages, but I think players that age get bored with the level of football. I wonder if they want something different – games in big, passionate stadiums, taking part in big competitions.
I think Saint-Maximin can be very good for Arsenal – perhaps I’ll give him a call!”

DZBT: Michael Olise is linked with Man Utd and Chelsea. Should Arsenal join that race?

Emmanuel Petit: ”I think Arsenal should join the race for Michael Olise, but some clubs will be wary of his fitness. I saw what Roy Hodgson recently said, where he defended his decision to not substitute Olise against Brentford. Olise has had lengthy spells out, and it depends on the extent of his current injury.

“I think Olise is doing very well at Crystal Palace so far and this may be his best season yet. He’s playing with confidence and he’s becoming a nightmare for defenders. He’s only 22, and Arsenal are a very young team. He could fit perfectly and rotate with Bakayo Saka. I’d be very happy if Arsenal got him.”

DZBT: Arsenal are in ongoing contract talks with Takehiro Tomiyasu. How important is it that the club ties him down?

Emmanuel Petit: ”Ben White is not the same player he was last season. I’m not very happy with his level this season and I think he can do much better. I don’t know what’s going on in his head. He was in the national team at one point and he’s playing at right-back when he wants to play in central defence.

“I think Takehiro Tomiyasu is a good player, but Arsenal’s right flank is not a worry of mine. I think Arteta can play without Takehiro Tomiyasu and Ben White with no problems at all.
Tomiyasu is a warrior, and they should get a new contract for him to sign. There isn’t much competition at right-back, though, as Ben White is capable of much better than what he’s showing.”

DZBT: Do you think William Saliba is the best defender in the world right now?

Emmanuel Petit: ”I wouldn’t say William Saliba is the best defender in the world. If he was, he’d be the first name on Didier Deschamps’ team sheet, and that’s not the case.

“I think Ibrahima Konate and Dayot Upamecano are very strong as well. There are other central defenders I really like, such as Ruben Dias and Micky van de Ven. We have very good centre-backs in the Premier League, and Saliba isn’t the best defender in the world right now, but he’s one of them.

“I’d say it’s difficult to name the best central defender in the world right now. I’m a huge fan of Saliba, though.”

Petit won the European Championship in 2000 after a tense final against Italy. He represented his national team 63 times.

DZBT: Do you agree with the notion of the Euros final being between France and England?

Emmanuel Petit: “I’ve previously said that France are favourites of Euro 2024, but England are very close. I think they’ve done well in the last few tournaments and they’ve managed to reach the latter stages a few times in a row. I think they’re the most exciting team in terms of quality after France.

“I also think England have improved a lot in terms of their mentality and unity. They’ll win something sooner or later, but it won’t be at Euro 2024 because France will beat them!
England were the better team in the 2022 World Cup quarter-final, but France still won the game. England still have to improve in this aspect. Playing well is one thing, winning games is another.”

Analyzing the Future of Football’s Brightest Stars

As the conversation turns to the future of stars like Mbappe, Petit provides insightful commentary on the complexities of player transfers, the psychological impact on teams and leagues, and the importance of strategic decision-making in building a winning squad. His analysis sheds light on the intricate web of considerations that define the modern game of football.

DZBT: Do you think Mbappe will win the Ballon d’Or if France win the Euros? Will Jude Bellingham win it if England triumph?

Emmanuel Petit: “We can’t overlook Harry Kane in the 2024 Ballon d’Or! That’s if England win the Euros, of course.

“I have my own opinions on the Ballon d’Or, but the winner will depend on what happens in both the Euros and the Champions League. I don’t think Mbappe will win it if he fails to win the Champions League with PSG but manages to win the Euros as there’s so much competition.

“Jude Bellingham is doing amazingly well at Real Madrid. He’s had a huge impact, but we’re far away from the next Ballon d’Or awards.”

DZBT: Does Mbappe go anywhere else apart from Real Madrid?

Emmanuel Petit: “I’m so tired of hearing about what’s happening with Mbappe! It seems to be up in the air every six months. It’s been like this for years, and I’m tired of it.

“Mbappe has the right to sign for whatever club he wants right now, but the red carpet won’t be there for him at Madrid anymore. Bellingham is the star of the team and he’s taking the show. I also don’t know where he’ll play as Vinicius Jr. plays on the left. The only space for him is at centre-forward, but he doesn’t want to play there!

“Luis Enrique has deployed Mbappe through the middle because he didn’t have any options there at the time. Mbappe has publicly said that he doesn’t want to play striker, and Madrid already have options in his position.

“The red carpet isn’t there anymore, and the fans and press will have him under immense pressure from day one. I’m not sure he’ll sign for Madrid.”

DZBT: Where do you think he’ll go?

Emmanuel Petit: ”Only the Premier League will welcome Mbappe at this stage. It’s either that or staying at PSG.

“The PSG board has said they’ll no longer sign marquee players and they’ll try to build a genuine team instead – something they should have done at the beginning!

“The board wants to do the right things – that means keeping hold of Luis Enrique next season regardless of what happens in the Champions League. Mbappe, if he leaves for Madrid, will just be another player who’s won it with Real Madrid. Winning it with PSG will be historic as they’ve never won it before. It’d be huge for French football.

“Imagine what’ll happen if Mbappe leaves France right now – nobody will want to buy the TV rights for Ligue 1. There are many reasons why Mbappe won’t be very welcomed at Real Madrid – including the pressure.

“Only a small handful of Premier League clubs could afford to sign him. It could be good for Kylian to go to England, but he can make history if he stays at PSG. He’s already made history this week by becoming the player with the most goals at the Parc des Princes.

“If I were Mbappe, I’d realise the allure of Real Madrid, but I would have already signed for them if I really wanted to go there.”

DZBT: Which Premier League club would best suit Mbappe?

Emmanuel Petit: “I would love to see Mbappe at Arsenal! However, that would mean Gabriel Martinelli would be on the bench.

“Liverpool are another option, but I don’t think they need another winger right now. Their priority is in defence and midfield.

“Manchester City already have several left-wingers, Chelsea aren’t doing well enough to attract him, but Man United could be an option with the new vision under Sir Jim Ratcliffe.
Manchester United used to be one of the most successful clubs in the world, but their issues are temporary. I think a few Premier League clubs will be looking at Mbappe.”

DZBT: Do Arsenal have a chance with Mbappe?

Emmanuel Petit: “I know Arsenal have the money to sign Mbappe, but I’m not sure if they’d be eager to spend so much money on a single-star player.

“Mikel Arteta has spent years building a squad, and the star is the whole team rather than an individual player. Arsenal need to be mindful of the mentality of the team. Mbappe would be in front of the other players, and that could be dangerous in the dressing room.

“Real Madrid used to be like that, and they’re still an option, as are PSG. I do, however, still believe that the Premier League clubs will have something to say.”