Emmanuel Petit details three reasons why Arsenal can win the Premier League
"We have not seen Arsenal reach their limit yet, and I think they will improve beyond this".
Winning the Premier League is one of the most difficult feats in professional sport. But if anyone can shed some light as to how to scale its towering peak, then it is former Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Petit.
A Premier League and FA Cup winner during his four years in North London, the Frenchman also claimed the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship, exemplifying his status as a serial winner.
Emmanuel Petit on why Arsenal can win the Premier League.
Now though, two decades on from their previous Premier League victory, Petit's Arsenal are in desperate search of the knowledge and know-how required to dethrone Pep Guardiola's imperious four-in-a-row chasing Manchester City.
Last season mounting a thoroughly unexpected yet ultimately unsuccessful title challenge, the Gunners are aiming to surmount the five-point gap which saw them finish second last year.
And their former Gallic destroyer has a few ideas of his own on how best Arsenal can overcome the oil-backed behemoth which stares them down ahead of the upcoming Premier League season:
1. The signing of Declan Rice:
"A bargain", was how Petit described the signing of the £105 million pound England international.
Before anyone questions the Frenchman on his curious assertion, it is worth remembering that alongside Patrick Vieira, he redefined what it meant to be a Premier League midfielder, forming one of the most imperious double-acts in the history of the league.
And now, he views Declan Rice as someone with the potential to reinvent the role of a holding midfielder yet again.
"You can see the quality he has already at such a young age and his experience. He's got leadership qualities too and that winning mentality".
"Leadership is something that has been missing for a lot of years at Arsenal... but I think that Declan Rice is a captain on and off the pitch".
"The way Declan wants to play, and the way Arteta wants his team to play, I think they will fit perfectly together".
Rice is not the only midfield reinforcement which Arsenal have moved for this summer, with the additional signing of Chelsea's German attacker Kai Havertz.
Viewed as the next big thing off the back of his rapid ascendance at Bayer Leverkusen, Havertz failed to ever fully settle at Stamford Bridge barring his Champions League final-winning goal.
But in the eyes of Petit, the 24-year-old can form a formidable partnership alongside Rice in Mikel Arteta's reconfigured midfield.
"I think the way we (Arsenal) play will suit him perfectly because he's got great quality... he's got a great mentality and can play in a variety of positions".
"He has lost his confidence because of the environment at Chelsea last season with the expectations that come from playing as a striker. But for me, he's not a striker and we could see his frustration on the pitch".
"Arsenal for me is the best, best place for him to express his quality and regain his confidence on the pitch, it's a place where he can enjoy his football again".
2. Playing Champions League football:
In securing their second-place finish last season, the Gunners have qualified for the Champions League for the first time since 2017.
This fact has been used by many pundits as a reason why Arsenal won't challenge again next season, with Arteta's young side supposedly unable to balance the rigours of Europe's premier club competition alongside their domestic commitments.
However, this is a view which Petit ardently disagrees with, instead declaring that Arsenal's long-awaited return to the Champions League will boost a potential title charge.
"They're going to be back playing in the Champions League at the Emirates Stadium, which is so important. For me, that will be the next step for Mikel Arteta and his team".
Already infamous for possessing one of football's most expectant fan bases, Arsenal's return to the Champions League when coupled with their aggressive summer transfer business, will only serve to heighten expectations around North London.
This is something which can help the players maintain their high levels of performance though according to Petit;
"Expectations will be higher with all the money they've spent and being back in Europe... a lot of things will be different for Arsenal and they probably won't get all the compliments they've received this season. But it gives them the opportunity to improve even more".
"If they keep working in the same way they have been, if they've all got the same vision and a proper vision on what they want to do on and off the pitch, then they can improve again".
3. Mikel Arteta's continued managerial evolution:
The man who has united a notoriously fractious fan base, Mikel Arteta's three-year reign to date is probably best described by James McNicholas' quote;
"It feels like Arsene Wenger built the Emirates Stadium, but Mikel Arteta turned the lights on".
Anyone fortunate enough to have experienced a Premier League fixture at the previously voiceless Emirates Stadium will be well aware of the extent to which the former Arsenal captain has transformed the atmosphere around the entire club.
From 8th, to 5th, to 2nd, the exponential progression is clear for all to see.
"I remember two or three years ago, where Arsenal were on the pitch, and outside it too...", remarked Petit.
"All the criticism that was there, all of the questioning, the spirit of the club had gone".
"So, to look and see what they've done in terms of the last 16 months has been amazing. It's amazing how far they've improved, to see the willingness to fight, and now to see them back in the Champions League".
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of Mikel Arteta's rebuild for Arsenal fans though is the unknown. With such a seismic turnaround there is a collective sense that the ceiling of this Gunners side is still some way off.
And this is a sentiment that double-winner Petit shares, divulging his excitement at the prospect of seeing just how far Arteta can take his exuberant playing squad.
"The team is very young, they've got a great mentality, a great manager, and a great squad surrounding him".
"I still think this side and even Arteta himself can improve a lot. They've got such a bright future in front of them".
So, Arsenal fans rejoice. The good times are back, and if Emmanuel Petit's word is anything to go by, it's just the start of this rousing side's voyage back to the pinnacle of the footballing world.
*Petit was speaking as an ambassador for Dazn Bet.
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