'Gunners will be smiling at end'

Petit backs his former club to knock Chelsea off their perch and clinch the EPL crown

Emmanuel Petit thinks highly of Arsenal midfielders Santi Cazorla and Mesut Oezil who bring experience and pack a combative spirit.
Emmanuel Petit thinks highly of Arsenal midfielders Santi Cazorla and Mesut Oezil who bring experience and pack a combative spirit.ST PHOTO: YEO KAI WEN

Former Arsenal favourite Emmanuel Petit has good news for the club's fans around the world.

On the eve of the Gunners' Community Shield clash against English Premier League champions Chelsea, the Frenchman, who played for both London teams, is confident Arsene Wenger's side will dethrone the Blues for the biggest domestic prize.

"This will be Arsenal's season - they will finally win the Premier League," the former midfielder, still sporting his trademark ponytail, said yesterday.

"The team have everything - plenty of midfield options and depth up front.

"Getting a world-class goalkeeper like Petr Cech was the perfect way to close what has been three years of astute transfer business by the club."

Petit knows what a powerful Gunners line-up looks like.


  • Singtel TV channels 109, 110, 111
    • Live telecast of major games
    • European football, including Italian Serie A, English FA Cup, Portuguese Primera Liga and
    England national team friendlies
    • Club programming from Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and AC Milan
    • Live studio shows and weekly preview and review programmes
    • Other offerings include rugby’s Six Nations series, selected ATP 250 tennis events
    and cycling’s Tour of Britain

Partnering compatriot Patrick Vieira in the engine room, the duo dominated midfield to win the Premier League and FA Cup for Arsenal and the World Cup for France - all in 1998.

The 44-year-old - who has also played for Barcelona - is in Singapore to launch the new Eleven Sports Network, serving as a pundit for tomorrow's Community Shield game.

While the EPL may never see a more telepathic midfield pairing like his partnership with Vieira, Petit believes Arsenal's current creative maestros come close, with the vigour of Santi Cazorla supporting the vision of Mesut Oezil.

"Those two guys are the heart of this team," he said, thumping his chest for dramatic effect.

"They bring experience and a competitive mentality, which is what you need to dominate the midfield in England.

"Arsenal never had that before, even when (Cesc) Fabregas was around."

It sounds like happy days are coming at the Emirates Stadium even as, nearby, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho plots the defence of their league crown.

Petit said The Special One may be the only one who can rejuvenate the once-special striker Radamel Falcao.

But Petit - and, possibly, rival managers - has noticed weaknesses in the Blues' squad.

"Chelsea have a very, very good first XI but they don't have many options on the bench," said Petit.

"They were struggling towards the end of last season because Mourinho kept playing the same team. If the league was one or two months longer, I'm sure they would have lost."

It explains his faith in former mentor Wenger, who won the FA Cup in the last two seasons, and last lifted the EPL trophy in 2004.

Petit said: "I see that the Arsenal players are enjoying their football. When you are happy on the pitch, you have more chance to win. The Gunners will be smiling at the end of the season, I'm sure of it."


Arsenal v Chelsea: Singtel TV Ch 109, from 9pm tomorrow

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2015, with the headline ''GUNNERS WILL BE SMILING AT END''. Subscribe