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Emmanuel Petit Exclusive: Arteta Has Managed Xhaka Perfectly

Former Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Petit has called Granit Xhaka “a survivor” and says Gunners boss Mikel Arteta has managed the Switzerland international “perfectly”. Xhaka’s Arsenal career reached a low point under previous manager Unai Emery, when he was stripped of the captaincy after an altercation with the fans - and looked to be on the brink of a departure. However, he was convinced to stay by Arteta and is enjoying arguably his best season to date, notching two goals and three assists in nine Premier League appearances so far. Petit credits both the player’s character and the management skills of his current coach for Xhaka’s revival in an Arsenal shirt.


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Survivor

Speaking exclusively to Genting, he said: “Xhaka is a survivor. When I look at his run with Arsenal since he signed - especially during the COVID-19 [pandemic] and he threw his shirt on the floor - everyone thought that was it.

“But he came back and Mikel Arteta is responsible for that in a good way. Xhaka is not a crazy horse on the pitch anymore, he doesn’t make late challenges to get yellow or red cards, and Arteta has managed him perfectly on the pitch.

“Xhaka can now make an important pass, score a great goal, but most importantly he has a smile on his face. I can’t remember the last time that happened and it shows that the fans and his teammates have forgiven him.”

Top 4 Finish 

As well as Xhaka and his teammates are playing, Petit does not think the Gunners will have quite enough to be Premier League champions this season.

But the Frenchman believes they will definitely finish in the top four and should sign a top winger, if they want to bridge the gap that remains between themselves and Manchester City.

I don’t think Arsenal will win the title but they will definitely qualify for the Champions League and that is a big achievement considering where they were when Arteta came to the club,” he explained.

“If they are to strengthen, I think they need wingers because [Bukayo] Saka, [Gabriel] Martinelli and [Gabriel] Jesus have been great but they have no-one to replace them if they get injured.

“[Emile] Smith Rowe is injured, [Eddie] Nketiah just signed a new contract but can he be the next striker if Jesus gets injured? My answer is no.

“All the big teams have big wingers. There’s a few in England that would be my dream for Arsenal. Allan Saint-Maximin would be a great signing. Can you imagine the damage [he could do] with all the [Arsenal] players around him?

“Wilfried Zaha of [Crystal] Palace would be great too. But they also need a central midfielder and centre-back as I’m not too sure about Rob Holding.”

Martinelli For Brazil?

Despite praising Martinelli’s performances for Arsenal, Petit feels the Gunners forward may not make the Brazil squad for the upcoming World Cup in Qatar.

“Brazil played against Tunisia and Ghana and won both games and of course Martinelli wasn’t in the squad,” he said. 

“I think it’s too early for him as there are players with more experience who are more efficient than him.

“We’re in the middle of October and the list will be done in early November. He’s having a great season, but is it enough to go to the World Cup? This is Brazil. 

“If he keeps on going in the form he’s in, he will be part of it, but I think it’s too early.”

 

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V: 1.25.0 All rights reserved. August 2021
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