'They think it's a retreat': Petit says Arsenal should ditch half their squad this summer

Nathaniel Kay April 7, 2021
Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

Former Arsenal double-winner Emmanuel Petit didn’t hold back when discussing the Gunners’ current squad with the Evening Standard.

Arsenal are on course for their worst Premier League finish if they continue their erratic form. They dropped to tenth after losing 3-0 at home to Liverpool at the weekend.

Mikel Arteta’s side have won just three games in the league since 30 January, with their Europa League escapades the only solace in what has been a patchy season at best.

Petit: Too many players on ‘vacation’

And Petit believes that apart from four players, if he was in charge of Arteta’s squad he’d happily have a massive clear-out of the squad this summer.

The World Cup winner said: “When I look at the older players in Arsenal’s team, it’s like they think it’s a retreat football club, somewhere you just go for a vacation.

“They have ambition but I don’t really expect them to win big games any more.

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“If you took away the name ‘Arsenal’ and looked at that group of players, (they are) average.

“At the end of the season, if I’m Arsenal, if I’m Arteta, if I’m on the board, to be honest with you, I think my main concern is getting half the dressing room out. Honestly.”

Gutless Gunners

It’s a damning review from Petit, who was vital to Arsene Wenger’s revolution in north London.

He played with the likes of Patrick Vieira, Martin Keown, Tony Adams, Freddie Ljungberg, Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry and so many other legends who donned the famous red-and-white shirt.

How many household names are in Arteta’s armoury? David Luiz, Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and Willian aren’t the players they once were.

And Petit thinks the club should build around four players with more youthful energy.

The Frenchman hailed Kieran Tierney and Bernd Leno but reserved his highest praise for Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe.

Petit said: “I really like Saka and Smith Rowe. The way Smith Rowe plays really reminds me of Paul Gascoigne.”

What will upset Arsenal fans most – criticising the skipper or comparing a young Gunner to a Tottenham Hotspur legend?