Emmanuel Petit spoke to Compare.bet yesterday. The former Arsenal and Chelsea midfielder discussed Saturday’s game between his two old sides and previewed Arsenal’s game tonight against Sevilla.
- Petit would be ‘surprised’ if Raya keeps his place
- Chelsea game was Odegaard’s worst performance for Arsenal
- Saliba has overtaken Van Dijk
- Arsenal need a proper goalscorer like Toney
- Cole Palmer is already proving his worth
DB: Arsenal fell behind at Stamford Bridge, but managed to secure a point. Thoughts on the performance?
EP:You can argue as well that Arsenal had the character and the personality to come back and to use the mistake from Chelsea to their advantage, but I think it was not Arsenal the way I’ve seen them the last couple of games. Gaining a point after that game, I think it’s something good for the Gunners and mentally as well, I think they showed character at the end. I’m pretty sure that Arteta must have been disappointed with at least the first hour of the game. He wouldn’t have recognised his players on the pitch because they were so poor, but that’s because of Chelsea as well. Chelsea were more aggressive, they played with more personality on the pitch, and they deserved the victory but Arsenal came back the last 15 minutes of the game and big teams always have to find a way to get a result and they did that.
DB: Arsenal played some really slick football last season as they became league leaders early on. Do you think Arsenal’s performances this season have declined in comparison?
EP:You cannot play every single game at your top level because it’s impossible to sustain that intensity all season. Look at Manchester City, they’ve lost two games already but it doesn’t mean that they are not the same team we have seen over the past few years. The fact that Arsenal are playing as well in the Champions League, you know, it takes a lot of energy and commitment as well. For me, they’re going to have to show a big character against Sevilla. This is a big, big game in a European competition and the atmosphere will be very hostile. They need to start from the beginning, from the first second of the game properly, in terms of fighting spirit and commitment. If they do the same thing against Sevilla that they did against Chelsea, it will be very hard to come back in the game and they could be in real danger of not qualifying from their group.
DB: Aaron Ramsdale has been talking about how he’s ‘hurting’ and ‘suffering’ since losing his place as Arsenal’s #1. Raya didn’t have the best performance this weekend. Do you think Arteta has created a problem here, rotating goalkeepers during the season?
EP:The goalkeeping position is something special in the squad and the manager needs to be very careful about what you do with goalkeepers and how you treat them. I can understand Arteta and Arsenal, but the fact that Ramsdale is not playing and Raya has made mistakes that cost goals in recent games is a serious issue. The goal Raya conceded against Chelsea, his position was not good and he gave the ball away with a terrible pass, which he also did against Lens in the Champions League. If you want to have a competition between two goalkeepers, that means when one of them is making mistakes and not playing well, you have to give the other one the chance to play. Ramsdale has always played very well for Arsenal, so that means I would be surprised if Raya keeps his number-one position.
DB: It was a poor day overall for the goalkeepers, Sanchez made a huge mistake for Arsenal’s first goal. He was then perhaps lucky not to give away a penalty. What do you think of Sanchez as Chelsea’s #1 so far?
EP:Sanchez started the season very well for Chelsea and has probably been Chelsea’s best signing this season but had a poor game against Arsenal and it cost his team a victory. It’s a pity because a win here would have been huge for Chelsea against a top club, but he is not the reason they have started so poorly this year, he has been very good for them. However, just like Raya at Arsenal, if Sanchez keeps making these mistakes that cost them wins, there could be trouble in the dressing room.
DB: That mistake by Sanchez was capitalised on by Declan Rice. How impressive has he been since he joined the club?
EP:Since he arrived at Arsenal he has bossed the midfield in every game he has played. he plays with composure, personality and character. He has great leadership and that was not probably his best performance against Chelsea, but you can count on players like that to come back when they are really needed to step up. Because the best players offer something even when they are not playing their best. His goal against Chelsea changed everything for Arsenal, they were convinced that they could come back in the game because he is a leader and the players follow him. Top players always make the most of opposition mistakes. Top teams and top players always, always use your mistakes to hurt you.
DB: Jorginho started in midfield next to Rice, over Partey who was available for selection. Do you think Arteta needs to start Partey instead?
EP:I’ve always liked Partey since he joined Arsenal, but he’s had issues with injuries and he will be frustrated and he just needs to be patient. He will have time to play this season with all the games they have to play.
DB: The captain, Martin Odegaard was brought off before the final whistle. What do you think of his performance in a big game like this?
EP:The way Odegaard played against Chelsea was probably his worst performance in an Arsenal shirt. He disappeared on the pitch, was giving the ball away and didn’t dictate the tempo of the game at all. Arsenal lost the midfield battle against Chelsea and that was due to Odegaard not playing well but this happens sometimes and Arsenal will be delighted that despite this happening they picked up a point against a good side away from home without playing well at all.
DB: Cole Palmer and Raheem Sterling clashed over penalty-taking duties. It seems Enzo had the final say, pointing to Palmer as the taker. Are you surprised by this, considering how young Enzo is?
EP:I was surprised by Enzo’s leadership in that moment with Sterling and Palmer. I don’t get why the manager hadn’t said who would be the penalty taker to the players before the game. You have to say despite Cole Palmer’s young age it’s great to see him want to take the penalty and remain so calm.
DB: Do you think Manchester City will regret letting Cole Palmer go?
EP:I was really surprised that Manchester City let Cole Palmer go. He’s a player with loads of talent and the potential to be a really top player for England and Chelsea. The way he’s been playing in recent weeks shows how good he can be and what a good signing he is for Chelsea and maybe City will regret letting him leave.
DB: Saka wore the armband for the first time while Odegaard was on the bench. Do you think he has the characteristics of a future Arsenal captain?
EP:I have huge respect for Saka and I love everything about him. He is an amazing player and a great person too and he could be a future captain for sure, but with Declan Rice in the squad, I think he should be the future captain of Arsenal. It’s a hard, hard question to answer and Odegaard has done such a good job of it. Saka is from the academy and has the love and respect of his teammates, but Rice can be the true leader of that squad.
DB: William Saliba has consistently performed well for some time now, even recently keeping Erling Haaland quiet. Virgil van Dijk is often mentioned as the top centre-back, do you think Saliba has overtaken him as the league’s best yet?
EP:I think William Saliba is one of the best central defenders in the league, if not the best. His positioning, tackling and aggressiveness is so impressive and he has improved so much in a short space of time. Van Dijk was the best defender in the league for so long, and he was very impressive against Everton but he is not the best anymore. He has regressed since his injury and he lost that consistency. I think the best defenders in the league are Saliba, Akanji, Dias and Gvardiol.
DB: How do you think Saliba compares to previous Arsenal greats, can he be as impactful as Sol Campbell or Tony Adams?
EP:It’s hard to compare Saliba with previous Arsenal greats in his position because he hasn’t won any trophies yet. His performances have been so strong the last two years but great players always win trophies. We can’t compare him to Campbell, Adams or Keown until he wins something for Arsenal.
DB: Gabriel Jesus has just one goal so far this season. When Jesus hasn’t been available, Eddie Nketiah has lead the line. Do you think these strikers are good enough to compete with Manchester City in the title race?
EP:I really like Jesus and Nketiah and the way they play but I’ve always if Arsenal wants to compete with the top clubs in the Premier League and Champions League, they will need a proper goalscorer who can score 30 goals a season in all competitions. It takes the load off the rest of the players and it gives you a focal point for your attack. The best teams in Europe have the best strikers, that is simple.
DB: Do you think Arsenal need a more prolific goalscorer? The likes of Ivan Toney, Victor Osimhen and Ollie Watkins could all be options in the January window.
EP:Osimhen has been so impressive since he joined Napoli and has proved he is one of the world’s best strikers, even though he’s had a tough few months with all the stuff on social media. With Toney, he is still suspended so it’s hard to tell how he will look when he returns, but he is such a talented striker and would help Arsenal massively. He’s a natural goalscorer and does so much good things for his team. It’s no surprise that Brentford haven’t been getting great results without him. If I were Ollie Watkins, I wouldn’t leave Aston Villa for any club right now. The way Unai Emery has transformed this team and the way they play is so impressive. Watkins is the main man, the most important for Villa and that is so good for him and his development as opposed to if he was at a bigger club.
DB: Trossard came on and scored the equaliser. Do you think he deserves to be in the starting XI?
EP:Trossard is a super sub. Every time he comes on the pitch for Arsenal he makes an impact. His movement and intelligence is so useful when he comes on as a sub against tired players, but I do think he needs to start more games. He offers something different to the other wide players in the Arsenal squad and that is important.
DB: I mentioned the title race there. The focus has been on Arsenal vs Manchester City, but do you think Liverpool should be considered as serious title contenders now that they’ve refreshed their squad?
EP: Everything has not been perfect at Liverpool with transfers, refereeing and some performances and despite that they are still right in the top part of the table. That shows they have such a great mentality and a talented squad. We have to remember this is a completely new midfield and it takes time to click when this happens. This season is fascinating because it will be very competitive at the top. There are a lot of very good teams this season with City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham all looking really good.
DB: Pochettino doesn’t seem too keen on giving Trevoh Chalobah playing time. Do you think this is a mistake?
EP: It’s such a shame that Chalobah never plays for Chelsea under Pochettino. He’s had problems with injuries but he’s such a talented player and it’s a shame that Chelsea have bought so many young central defenders instead of playing and developing Chalobah. If I were Chalobah, seeing all these new defenders coming into the squad I would be thinking I may have to leave if I want to play. I’m sure there would be many big clubs across Europe that would want him and he is linked with some big teams in the Champions League, so it may be time to go and play somewhere else.
DB: You mentioned Boehly wanting to see all his big-money signings on the pitch – perhaps that’s why we’re seeing Colwill at left-back! What do you think of his performances despite being played out of position?
EP: Colwill has played at left back and centre back and performed well in both positions. He is a centre back though, and I’m sure that’s where he wants to play. He is so young and needs to develop by playing in his best position, and it will take time for him. With all of the young defenders that are injured for Chelsea at the moment he needs to keep playing well so he can keep them out of the side when they return.