In an exclusive interview with BettingSites.co.uk, former Monaco, Arsenal, Barcelona and Chelsea midfielder, Emmanuel Petit spoke about all the latest football news.
The World Cup winner has urged Chelsea to win against Luton Town, otherwise, the whole club will be scrutinised due to their spending spree over the last year.
The Frenchman is a fan of Newcastle’s Alexander Isak, who he said could be Arsenal’s next 30-goals-a-season striker.
Petit expressed his worries for Ligue 1 once Kylian Mbappe leaves PSG, as the league is already struggling to sell TV rights abroad.
Read the full interview below
Question: What did you think of the Arsenal vs Crystal Palace game?
“Arsenal showed resilience in the last 20 minutes after they got the red card but it was such an unfair red card. It was very important to leave the stadium with three points and stay at the top of the league. Winning points at the beginning of the season is crucial even when they don’t play very well.”
“There are so many things that Arsenal can improve on the pitch, but to have six points after two games is perfect and I expect three points against Fulham as well, especially at home.”
“The Arsenal games that are coming up are going to be tough in September and the beginning of October, they have some very big games against Manchester United and Manchester City.”
“It will be very tough, they will start the Champions League too, so I don’t know how they will handle that as it’s a different competition with different demands and schedules.”
Q: What is your prediction for the Fulham game?
“My only wish for Arsenal this season is to improve from last season, when they did very well. If they are to improve even more with the Champions League games, Arsenal will need to avoid injuries, especially with defenders. I expect them to win against Fulham, I will say 3-1 for Arsenal.”
Q: Could a team like Manchester City or Real Madrid draw Mikel Arteta away from Arsenal?
“Anything can happen in football, especially with some of the crazy money now. Arteta is improving a lot as a manager since he arrived and, just like the players, the Champions League will be very interesting for him as well as a test of his maturity and management.”
“I wish he could stay at Arsenal for years and years, that will mean bringing success back to the club, so I wish that for him. If he does very well, and I have a feeling that he will do something good with Arsenal, maybe he will want to go somewhere else. It’s very rare now to see a manager stay at the same club for 20 years, especially with the new owners and shareholders who do not think in the same way at football.”
Q: Do you see any similarities between Alexander Isak and Thierry Henry?
“Alexander Isak is tall, aggressive and has great technique. He wants to score every time he gets the ball but he needs to be more precise in his game. Physically and technically, he has a huge presence on the pitch. If one day someone can tell me that he plays like Thierry Henry, maybe I will believe them, but for the moment it’s really too soon to say that.”
“He’s a good striker and he’s someone that Arsenal would be very happy to have because he brings different qualities. Jesus and Nketiah play in a similar way, they are different in terms of movement, but physically, technically and in their finishing they are not far apart.”
“I was upset by Nketiah’s finishing against Crystal Palace, he had two good chances, and Arsenal need to have a striker that can score 30 goals in all competitions throughout the season, it’s something missing at Arsenal if they want to improve. Isak is a very good striker and finished very well in the second half of the season last year after being injured. He started well this year again. If he can avoid being injured, because it’s been a problem since he arrived, we will see his real qualities.”
Q: Should Folarin Balogun go to Tottenham?
“Balogun to Tottenham would be a blow for Arsenal, but you have a feeling that Arsenal want to sell him. If he wants to return to the Premier League and join Tottenham then he is free to do it. I think the fans understand the situation. Two or three years ago he went to the French league and he did very well with France, he was connected with so many clubs and he is still available in the transfer market.”
“Marseille wanted to sign him but they signed Aubameyang instead. He’s young and he has made a big choice about his national team. He has to make another big decision now for him, as a player and a person as well. He is at a point in his life where he needs to go to a club to help him to go further in his career step by step to become a powerful striker. He has shown some very good qualities with Arsenal and I can understand that many clubs are trying to sign him. If he goes to Tottenham, then that’s the way it is. This is the business, if Arsenal do not want to hold him. But he could stay at Arsenal too. If Arsenal don’t want to keep him, why should people be upset if he goes to Tottenham?”
Q: What do you make of Kai Havertz’s start at Arsenal?
“Football is crazy now and a club that spends £70m on a player may not even be playing him anymore, and they could sell him. I wasn’t surprised that Chelsea wanted to sell him.”
“Arsenal need to be patient but I’m pretty sure he will be a hit with Arsenal. He was struggling at the start of the season and against Crystal Palace he was lost at times on the pitch and wasn’t sure of his movements. I still believe that with the way he plays up front, he needs to improve his understanding with his new teammates.”
“I believe he must improve his personality and character because he has quality. He was suffering over what happened with Chelsea last season but he was the best goalscorer for Chelsea last season. He has to fight against his own personality and character.”
Q: If you had to choose one player from your Arsenal team to be in this current Arsenal team, who would you pick?
“I would love to see Dennis Bergkamp with Martin Odegaard. They both play the same position, but their style and impact together would be great to see. In defence, Tony Adams was an iconic central defender and a legend. The central defenders at Arsenal are good, especially William Saliba, so I will definitely say they need a striker.”
“If you have a striker who can score between thirty to forty goals in all competitions during the season, that means your team will be up there fighting for the biggest trophies.”
Q: What is your score prediction for Chelsea vs Luton? Will it be Chelsea’s first win of the season?
“Chelsea are playing at home and Luton lost their first game 4-1. After losing against West Ham I thought it was such a poor second half from Chelsea. Can you imagine if they lose against Luton at home? Can you imagine the tragedy, the impact, the earthquake after the game especially after what happened last season?”
“The patience from the fans isn’t there anymore. You have thirty-five players and are spending £100m every two days! So even if they draw that will be a terrible result for Chelsea. I think Chelsea will win probably something like 2-0. It’s going to be a really difficult season for Luton.”
Q: What did you think of Moises Caicedo’s debut for Chelsea? Do you think the price tag might get to his head a bit?
“The numbers are crazy in football now. Sometimes it is justified, but most of the time it’s not. It’s a sign of how much you want that player and how much you’re willing to pay for them.”
“It’s just a question of time. You have to play against the clock, against the pressure of missing injured players. I wasn’t shocked about the price tag, but I’m shocked that they sold so many players in the transfer market. They now have around thirty-five players, which is crazy!”
“Caicedo signed for Chelsea when he was linked with Liverpool, just like Romeo Lavia. I’m not going to say anything stupid but we all know why they went to Chelsea. Sportingly, the best decision right now would be to go to Liverpool. If I am Caicedo or Lavia, I’m going to Liverpool instead of Chelsea because I can’t see a clear plan for what is going on at Chelsea. Thirty-five players? Come on. How many players do they need? It’s going to be a nightmare just like what happened last season.”
“When you look at Liverpool there is one area in particular that needs to be upgraded and that is the midfield area even though they signed new players in Szoboszlai and Mac Allister. If I was Caicedo I would have signed for Liverpool because I would reunite with Mac Allister and I would play with less pressure because so many of their midfield players have left the club. For me the answer is very easy. If you ask somebody why Caicedo and Lavia decided to go to Chelsea, the answer is just money. Money talks for the clubs and for the players.”
Q: If you had to compare midfields, who’s got the better midfield? Chelsea with Lavia, Caicedo and Enzo Fernandez or Arsenal with Rice, Partey and Odegaard?
“We haven’t seen that midfield play together yet at Chelsea. But if you are basing it only on the money, their name and what they have done before with their previous clubs, then I would say the Arsenal midfield is better.”
“I think Rice did well on Monday. His first game was at home so I’m sure he was nervous and I think he will improve even more because he is entering a team that really enjoyed themselves last season especially in the midfield area.”
“The fact that Xhaka left as well means that there isn’t really any big competition to earn your place so they don’t feel the same pressure. When you look at Chelsea, I have no idea what I can give you as an answer because they have never played together. On top of this, there are so many players in this area. I’m thinking every time I play for Chelsea will I get on the bench let alone the team-sheet?”
Q: Manchester United haven’t had a great start this season and Mason Mount has been on the receiving end of some criticism so far. Do you think that he should’ve stayed at Chelsea under Pochettino?
“I was very frustrated by the fact that Mason Mount asked to leave Chelsea. We could feel his frustration for months last season. He was injured for a while and he didn’t play too many games towards the end. His contract issues had been really poorly managed by the club. I think he is suffering from last season right now and the fact that he signed for Manchester United means he is under huge pressure.”
“He has been struggling in midfield and Casemiro, Bruno Fernandes and Mason Mount is not working at all at the moment. Maybe it will work in the future but at the moment it’s not working at all. I was very upset because Mount came from the Chelsea academy. With all the money that Chelsea have spent in the last eighteen months, nearly a billion pounds, they are not able to give a proper respectful contract to one of their homegrown English players in the dressing room?”
“It’s ridiculous. He was also loved by the fans but you cannot give him the same money as the players you have bought for a hundred million from the outside? I can’t understand this. I said it at the end of last season I wish Chelsea did everything they could have done to keep Mason Mount because I think the story between him and the club was not finished and he was one of the leaders in the dressing room alongside Reece James and Ben Chilwell.”
“Those three should have been just like how it was fifteen years ago with Frank Lampard and John Terry, English players representing the fans and the academy. So I was very upset about that.”
Q: What do you think about Jeremy Doku? What can we expect from him?
“Jeremy Doku is a very young but very talented player. He is very fast and very explosive. He plays on the right-wing and he is very good with the ball at his feet. His dribbling is great and he has got very, very high qualities.”
“But he needs more experience and he needs to control his game even more with his movements. He is only 21, but he has already been playing for his national team for a couple of years already, so I’m not surprised that top clubs are interested in him because it is rare to see a player with his quality.”
Q: Do you agree with Raphael Varane’s complaints about game times?
“I can understand Raphael Varane’s complaints because there are already so many games in different competitions and the players and managers just have to follow the rules, it’s not their business. Players represent the business but are not able to give their opinions.”
“10 minutes of added time is not the worst. I saw a game with 14 or 15 minutes, that’s bad. Can you imagine adding a minimum of 10 minutes across 60 games? That means you play about six more games a season. There are already too many games even to watch.”
“Just playing 60 games a season won’t give you an injury, look at Manchester City. They didn’t have big injuries throughout the season apart from Kevin De Bruyne. When you arrive at a certain age, you can’t go on for as long as you used to with the repetition of the games, one day your body will tell you it’s too much.”
Q: Should Manchester United have signed Marcus Thuram?
“Marcus Thuram has more experience than Rasmus Hojlund. They are both tall strikers and they are very similar. There is no way that Marcus Thuram wanted to go to England, his wish was to go to Inter Milan.”
Q: Do you think that Anthony Martial’s time at Manchester United is over?
“It’s time for Anthony Martial to leave. Monaco are top of the league and they are scoring goals with good strikers, so I’m not sure about him going there. I don’t know what the best club for Martial will be but I know it’s time for him to leave Manchester United.”
“He’s been at Manchester United for too long now and it’s very frustrating because he has great qualities but too many injuries has made it difficult. I’m not sure if he will come back to Ligue 1. When you leave for a long time it’s difficult to come back, especially after a spell where he was not good enough. If he was at Manchester United for years and scored loads of goals being one of the best strikers in the Premier League and winning titles, then it would have been good for him to come back to France, but I think he’ll look for a different country.”
Q: What will happen to Ligue 1 when Kylian Mbappe leaves?
“When your best player leaves the impact is not on a club but also the competition that you are playing in will have a huge impact on the TV rights and lots of things. The Premier League has been sold in so many different countries around the world because it’s really attractive thanks to the huge and important players at big clubs.”
“If Kylian Mbappe leaves France after Lionel Messi and Neymar left, who is going to be the next big club in the French league? If I am the TV rights holder and Ligue 1, I would be worried about that because they are struggling to sell TV rights abroad. It will be a big blow for the whole league.”
Q: Did Harry Kane make the right decision?
“If I were Harry Kane, and someone asked what I would like, it’s tempting to be the best English scorer in the Premier League, but what does that mean if I don’t win any silverware? I would prefer to be remembered as one of the best scorers in English history but in the meantime, I want the Champions League or the Bundesliga. I think I would have chosen trophies too.”
Q: Do you think Bradley Barcola will leave Lyon?
“He has lots of quality but the consistency in his performances are not there which is normal because he’s very young. He was only playing for the first time last season so it’s something very new for him. He scores six goals in about 30 games.”
“He’s an interesting but very young player. He needs to improve a lot and become mature and his quality on the pitch has to be more efficient with the ball. He’s panicking a lot with the ball and loses it often. He needs to be more mature in his game, and increase his intelligence and decision-making.”
“He has quality but this guy is too young. If he leaves Lyon and he goes somewhere abroad just because he can’t say no, he will be on the list of so many players who left the French league and returned in a bad way. If I am one of his representatives I would tell him he has to make a decision but that decision should be to stay at Lyon.”