Emmanuel Petit spoke to Compare.bet yesterday. The ex-Chelsea and Arsenal midfielder urged Edu and Mikel Arteta to buy Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka in the January window, called Leandro Trossard the Gunners’ first-choice striker and said Declan Rice is being wasted in the ‘number 8’ role. Petit also discussed Cole Palmer’s ‘ice cold’ mentality, Raheem Sterling’s England chances and why he believes Kylian Mbappe’s next destination will be the Premier League.
- Petit urges Arsenal to go for Bayern duo
- Trossard should be Arsenal’s first-choice striker
- Cole Palmer’s potential is limitless
- Declan Rice ‘wasted’ in the number 8 role
- Sterling is back to his best and has to go to Euros
DB: What a game that was between City and Chelsea! It finished 4-4, do you think a draw was a fair result?
EP: What a game, City were leading on three separate occasions but Chelsea never gave up. They showed so much character and commitment. It was the perfect advert for the Premier League, it’s a different world to other leagues in Europe.
DB: For so long, Chelsea have struggled going forward. They’ve scored 8 in their last two Premier League games. Do you think Pochettino has made Chelsea a dangerous attacking side again?
EP: All these questions about Chelsea’s striker curse may be over. All of a sudden they look like a new team. When you change so many things at a club you need time for everything to click and this shows that. Now, it’s clear that step by step, Chelsea are becoming a real threat. Their performances against Arsenal, Spurs and City show they have improved so much recently and they can still get so much better. The performance against City was the best we have seen from Chelsea all year and they are on the right track.
DB: How impressive was Cole Palmer yesterday?
EP: All of Chelsea’s young players are showing an amazing level of maturity at the moment. They aren’t afraid to take responsibility and to show what they are capable of. A couple of weeks ago Cole Palmer showed that when he argued with Sterling about who would take the penalty and now he’s scored four in a row. Palmer was ice cold against City. The penalty to tie the game was a huge moment and he showed no sign of emotion, just complete focus. At his age, in this kind of game against his old team that is incredible. He’s a wonderful player and his potential has no limit for me.
DB: Cole Palmer’s performances haven’t been unnoticed and was called up for England, but Raheem Sterling performed well against his former club and many are surprised that Southgate continues to leave him out of his England squads. Do you think Southgate is making a mistake?
EP: I feel sorry for Raheem Sterling. He has probably been Chelsea’s best player this season and against City he was electric and a constant threat. Every time he touched the ball he was causing problems for Manchester City’s defence. He really looked back to his absolute best level in that game and if he keeps playing like this consistently he will go to the Euros for sure.
England have so many talented players, particularly on the wings but Sterling can play on the left or the right and offers something no other player in England’s squad can. He has to be patient and keep this level of motivation up all season.
DB: After the match, Rodri said that they felt “exhausted”. Do you think Conor Gallagher deserves some credit for that because of his energetic performance?
EP: The whole Chelsea squad deserve credit for the way they played against City. They played with so much intensity and they outran City and made them look tired and slow by the end. Connor Gallagher ran so much and was everywhere on the pitch and that helped Chelsea match City physically.
DB: Christopher Nkunku will be returning from injury soon. Where do you see him fitting in this current Chelsea XI?
EP: Before Nkunku gets back to his best level he will need some minutes on the pitch and some time getting used to Pochettino’s system, and it isn’t clear how or where he gets into Chelsea’s starting eleven right now. However, he can play up front or in the 10, which makes him extremely useful to Chelsea.
DB: We saw Trossard open the scoring against Burnley, in a move that involved Saka and Martinelli. What do you think of the combination of these players as a front three?
EP: Even going back to his Brighton days I have loved watching Leandro Trossard. He is such an intelligent footballer and so good technically. His movement is absolutely exceptional and he just has such a good feel for the game. He can create chances and score goals and you can see he has an elite mentality. He has become an extremely important player for Arteta.
DB: Should Trossard be starting over Jesus full time?
EP: The best players always have to play, and part of that is availability as well as form. Jesus spends far too much time being injured. He can play well for a few weeks and then he gets injured and this has happened for years now. Trossard is always available and very rarely does he play poorly. For me, he should be the first option for Arsenal’s striker.
DB: You’ve always spoken highly of Declan Rice. He’s featured at the base of Arsenal’s midfield, but also as an eight. What do you think is his best position?
EP: Declan Rice’s priority for Arsenal should be to maintain the balance of the side and to win the ball back for his team. He does those things so well. I think he is wasted a bit in that number 8 role where Xhaka played last season because he is such a brilliant holding midfielder. You cannot ask him to play how Xhaka played last year because that’s not his position. His best position is as a holding midfielder and that is where the manager should play him, it’s fundamental to how Arteta wants to play.
DB: It’s been reported that Partey will likely be out until the new year. Even if he does return in January, he’ll likely be unavailable due to AFCON. There are rumours of interest from Juventus and the Saudi league. Is it time for Arsenal to sell Partey?
EP: Thomas Partey is 30 years old now and the problem with him is too many injuries and I think this is further proof that Arsenal and Arteta still don’t have the complete squad to compete with Manchester City. They still need to improve the squad and bring in more depth. When Arsenal get injuries, they struggle to replace players, whereas City can lose four or five players and they still look the same. It’s probably time for Partey to leave Arsenal, but they have to be smart about who they bring in to replace him in January. They are really short on midfielders.
DB: Is there anyone you’d like to see Arsenal bring in to replace Partey, if he does move on?
EP: In my opinion, this is a team that needs experience. I know they want to buy young players with room to improve and I can understand that, but I think they need players that know how to win and have experience in big games.
The main two players I would target if I was Arsenal would be Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka. They are both incredible players with huge experience who have both been at Bayern for a while and would maybe like a new challenge. Goretzka has played at such a high level for so long and is still only 28, and I think Kimmich would be great for Arsenal, even if the price tag may be a bit expensive.
Tchouameni has been linked with a move away too, but I think it would be very hard for him to leave the biggest club in the world. He had a tough season last year but he’s doing better this year and I think he’s settled there now.
Both Douglas Luiz and John McGinn would suit Arsenal perfectly too. McGinn has been consistently so good for so long, so energetic, can score goals and defend. I think he’s extremely underrated.
Overall, I think Kimmich and Goretzka would be the best additions for Arsenal and could help them close the gap on City.
DB: Both Arsenal and Chelsea have been linked with a movie for Jean-Clair Todibo – Do you think he would be a good addition to either of these sides?
EP: It’s not a secret that Arsenal need to buy a central defender. When either Saliba or Gabriel are missing, the replacement options are a huge step down in quality. Todibo is doing really well with Nice and could definitely be an option for Arsenal. If he was offered the move, I’m sure he would say yes but it would be a huge risk to move midseason when there is a European Championships in the summer and he is playing so well at his current club.
DB: Takehiro Tomiyasu has seen quite a lot of playing time this season, what do you make of his performances recently?
EP: Tomiyasu is a decent player, but I have to be honest, is he really good enough for Arsenal? You can’t argue that he doesn’t give his best, but I don’t think he’s the best defender and wouldn’t be my first choice for Arsenal.
DB: What do you make of Arsenal’s chances of winning the Champions League this year – they are currently fourth favourites behind City, Bayern and Real Madrid.
EP: Arsenal fans won’t be happy with me for this, and if Arsenal proved me wrong and did win the Champions League it would be a beautiful, beautiful surprise but I don’t think they are good enough to win it. They are still pretty early on in this project and it’s the first year back in the competition for them in a long time. There are a lot of very good teams in the competition and if Arsenal win the Champions League I will apologise to the players and the fans, but I don’t think they can win it.
DB: Rumours are that Real Madrid have cooled their interest in Kylian Mbappe – where do you think would suit him best if not Real?
EP: Real Madrid look so happy with Vinicius and Rodrygo and we all know that Kylian Mbappe doesn’t want to play as a number nine, so it’s hard to see where he could go. There’s nowhere in France or Italy that could afford him, I can’t see him going to Germany, so the Premier League is the only place for him to go. There are a few clubs in England that have the power financially to bring him in and you never know with Kylian Mbappe, if he does leave PSG I think he will definitely go to England, I just can’t see him going to Real Madrid.