Football Insights - Emmanuel Petit
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Football Insights - Emmanuel Petit

With the Premier League coming to an end and a massive North London Derby taking center stage on Thursday night, not to mention the small matter of the FA Cup Final this weekend between Liverpool and Chelsea, former Arsenal and Chelsea midfielder Emmanuel Petit talks exclusively to Genting Casino ahead of another thrilling week of domestic football action.


Can Arsenal hold on to that 4th place spot in the Premier League? Who will finish higher, Arsenal, Tottenham or Chelsea?

Well, what I said months ago is that Arsenal will finish in the top four. That was before they were losing three games in a row. They can lose a game and they can still be in front of Tottenham. When you have your destiny in football, this is the one thing to get, I'm pretty sure Arsenal will finish top four.

It depends on Chelsea but they can reach the third spot as well. When I saw Chelsea, on my last visit, what's going on inside the club, then on the pitch as well, I think most of the players are showing tiredness, mentally and physically. It's a hard end-of-season for them, but I'm pretty sure they will finish in a qualifying spot. Every single player in this team knows how important it is to be in the top four next season.

If you put away the destiny of some players, there are so many out of contract at the end of the season. One thing I don't understand about Chelsea is when you're a big club, you're expected to do things and I can understand if it's one or two players but there are so many players that don't know if they are going to be a part of Chelsea in the future.

The takeover may be done but it doesn't mean the players know anything about their contracts, especially in defence. For the last two seasons, Chelsea have bought so many players up front, because they were missing strikers, and now they have to revert to their old defence. This is something I don't understand with Chelsea.


After signing his new contract, how far off are Arsenal from competing for the Premier League title under Mikel Arteta?

You have to respect his work since he arrived at the Emirates because after Arsène left the club, it's been very disappointing from Arsenal in terms of results. They were dropping down the table as well. His work is good and despite what people said in England, when he signed a contract for three years, there were so many things that worked for Arsenal the last few years but there is one thing for sure, the stability on the bench.

They needed someone with a proper vision, that can work hand in hand inside the club and this is exactly what's going on. You have to give him time, since he arrived at Arsenal, I think his work has been good.

He has improved the team, individually and collectively, but if they want to compete for the title, and want to be battling in the Champions league every single year, they need to compete better in the Premier League which means improving the quality, not exactly the quality of players, it's quantity of players as well. Arteta doesn't have many options on the bench, when he misses two or three important players, he doesn't get any options. With his work, they need to go to the next step which means they need to reinforce the team by buying three or four players at least.


Should Nketiah stay at Arsenal or should he move elsewhere for a fresh start?

No, I hope he's going to stay. To be honest, he's made a big impression since he's played regular football with the team. He's also scored some important goals as well, in terms of performance, you can see he has improved on the pitch, as well as his teammates.

I don't know what Lacazette is going to do at the end of the season, but for sure, with Lacazette and Nketiah, they will still need a striker who can score goals, who can at least score 20 to 25 goals per season.

They need it to compete with the big guns as well, this is why I hope Nketiah is going to stay at the club. For me, he has a future at the club. Just like Smith Rowe, Ødegaard, Saka, they're young players from the academy. I hope he is going to stay but I hope Arsenal are going to buy a different kind of striker. 


Who would you like to see them bring in?

I really like Tammy Abraham, he's still with Roma in Italy. He's a tall guy, physical, he can run fast, he has improved. The way he's playing with his teammates as well, he's improved in terms of finishing, this is exactly what Arsenal needs.

He's a totally different player to Nketiah and this is why I think they need different options up front and to me, Abraham could be a very good bargain, especially after what happened at Chelsea. If you give him the opportunity to come back to England, especially in London, he will come back with a feeling of revenge.

In a way, there are some similarities with Lukaku when he came back from Chelsea, he was looking for revenge. In football, I like that kind of thing. It's important mentally. For his quality as well in front of the goal, I think it could be a very good deal. I've heard big names as well, Jesus, Sterling, I really like Zaha, or even someone like Saint-Maximin from Newcastle. Martinelli is a very good player, just like Saka, but when they get injured, who's going to play on the left and right? There are no options, they need at least four players, at least two up front. 


Is Arsenal now becoming an attractive club to sign for again?

For sure. They have improved a lot over the last few years. The fact that the manager has signed a new contract has shown the competence the club can have, and that this is a good message sent outside the club, for different players who are thinking to come. Now Arteta could say 'I want this player, and this player'. The next players that are going to Arsenal will feel like they are being wanted. 

If you qualified every season in the Champions League spots, it's a major, major difference, in terms of signing new players. It depends where Arsenal will finish at the end of the season but I'm pretty confident they will finish in the top four.. When you are in contact with different players, even if you have to fight against other clubs for different kinds of players, it's a major difference when you put the Champions League on the table.


Who would you start in the FA Cup final against Liverpool - Havertz or Lukaku?

Since Liverpool want to win everything, this team is the example to follow for Arsenal. For so many clubs as well. They have been amazing for the last four or five seasons, at least. I'm still wondering how they can do that, physically and mentally, it's a huge difference.

Doing that year after year, the same motivation, this is the perfect example of what you have to do in football, in terms of team spirit. They want to win, they want to make history and this is what I like.

It's a luxury for clubs to get these kinds of players who never get enough of winning games and trophies. This team, this is what you need if you want to reach your objective, your targets. To win trophies; you need to get those kinds of players who hate to lose games. 

Chelsea can't get that. It's very rare, but it's a final. And Klopp, when I saw their games against Tottenham, I thought Liverpool were a little bit tired. They were missing the last run, the good vision, especially against a team that's very compact.

I'm pretty sure Chelsea have learned some lessons recently and I've seen how Liverpool play, they know it perfectly. When it's the final, if you ask people, 'who do you think is going to win?' most people would say Liverpool, for the dynamic between the two clubs. 

But, this is a final, it's one single game, and everyone knows what Liverpool wants to do; make history. They are on a good run to do it but for me, Chelsea will be very hard to beat, because it's a trophy for the players. Especially after everything that's gone on this season, after winning the Champions League, football goes so fast.

If I was a Chelsea player right now, I'd try to finish the season as well as possible by winning the FA Cup and maintaining the position in the table to finish in the Champions League. For me, Liverpool are at an advantage for this final, in terms of team spirit and dynamic, but because it's the final, I will say be careful of Chelsea. 


Score prediction?

I think it will be a draw. I would say a 1-1 draw.


What is next for Paul Pogba after reportedly telling Man City he’ll choose a different club? Would you like to see Pogba stay in the Premier League if it’s not with Man United?

He must not stay at Manchester United for both interests. I think his future is not at Manchester United. His future for me is not at Manchester City at all. There are big rumours here in France surrounding Paris Saint Germain, so I don’t know what he wants to do. But it's probably to sign a big contract, if he wants to sign a three or four year contract, but he needs to regain his form.

He has not been the same player for a long time now, it’s been a very difficult season for him and Manchester United. I think the love-story has ended at Old Trafford. He must go outside. I would like to see him stay in the Premier League, the best league in the world. I am not sure he will stay in the Premier League, I’m pretty sure he will leave England. This is my opinion, I may be wrong but this is my feeling. 






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