Football

Petit tips Gunners to taste title glory again

EMMANUEL PETIT tells DAVID LEE that the Gunners' strength in depth will see them end long wait for title

ARSENAL v CHELSEA
(Tomorrow, 10pm, SIngtel TV Ch 109)

Who do you think will win the English Premier League this season and why?

EMMANUEL PETIT: Arsenal were under so much pressure for not winning any silverware for nine years but, after winning back-to-back FA Cups in the last two seasons, this year will be the Gunners' season in the Premier League.

For me, Arsenal are well-placed to end their league title drought.

They have paid off their stadium, they have money in the bank, they are playing one of the best brands of football in Europe, and the players look like they are enjoying what they are doing.

The EPL is the most competitive league in the world and winning twice in a row is going to be very tough. 

Chelsea won last season but, really, the difference was made in the first six months, when Arsenal and Manchester United lost too many points.

I'm sure they will not make the same poor start.

Chelsea were struggling in the last few months of last season because they did not have many options on the bench and could not make much rotation to the team.

I feel Arsenal have more talent and options to win the title this season.

Which department and who do you think will make the winning difference for Arsenal?

I think Arsenal have got enough firepower in terms of attacking midfielders and strikers.

After all, they have proven players in Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck.

But I really like Theo Walcott when he plays in a central position.

He can play on the wings as well, but I think he can play the same way as Raheem Sterling when he plays 
up front.

Walcott's got power, he's got good movement, he has improved a lot in his technique and his finishing.

And let's not forget Petr Cech, who will make a big difference in goal.

Do you see any chinks in the Gunners' armour?

My only concern for them is in defence. They have got many midfielders, but I think in central defence, they are a bit lacking. 

Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny are good but, during the season, when you play once every three days, you need other options as well. 

I think the Gunners lack cover in central defence positions, but so do Chelsea, which explains why Jose Mourinho is so desperate to sign John Stones from Everton. 

On average, the top teams will play 60 to 70 games throughout the season and they need options.

John Terry is a great captain and he was great last season, but he's no longer young. If he gets injured, who do they have?

Talking about Chelsea, why do you think they have turned to Radamel Falcao when he has not had a good season with Manchester United?

I'm sure Falcao will show to the world of football that he is a top gun.

I've watched him at Atletico Madrid, at Monaco and with Colombia. 

When he played for them, he was a great, great striker.

He is always very good in his movement and technique.

With his sense of positioning in the penalty area, he and Diego Costa will make a very powerful duo, along with Eden Hazard on the wings. 

What do you think of the running spat between Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho, especially the touchline clash last year?

I like it. Sport is about competition, it's about fighting spirit. I was very surprised with Arsene's reaction.

I've known him for 30 years. Only on a few occasions have I ever seen him lose his mind. 

When I watched that game at Stamford Bridge, the way he left his bench to go to Mourinho, I told myself that he got trapped.

Mourinho knew exactly what he was doing and Arsene got trapped.

Arsenal under Arsene have never beaten Mourinho's Chelsea. It's 13 games now and, psychologically, it's becoming a big trouble for Arsene and Arsenal.

At the moment, it must feel like whatever Arsene does, Mourinho will still win the game at the end of the day.

This is why the Community Shield is so important. It's not just a friendly.

It doesn't mean the winner of this match will go on to win the title but, psychologically, it will send a good message to the Arsenal team if they win and that will end the nightmare for Arsene. 

You have known Wenger for a long time and, in an earlier interview, you reportedly said he "does not recognise when he is wrong". Do you think that is his biggest weakness?

He is a great manager, a great person. But sometimes, he finds it difficult to recognise that the opponents are better. 

He always tries to find excuses about referees, about his own players. He will never say the opponents deserve to win, they are better than us. 

Sometimes, when you are a great manager like him, you need to recognise the strength and force of the opponents.

This is sport, at the end of the day, there must be a winner. If you don't win, it is only fair play to recognise the superiority of the opponent. 

I would love if Arsene sometimes recognises the strength of the opponents, not to find excuses about referees and his players. Sometimes the opponents are better, that's it.

So, are you going to tip Arsenal to win the Community Shield 
and emerge the better team 
over the season?

Actually, I think it will be a draw but, at the end, Arsenal will win on penalties. 

Gary Cahill is not at 100 per cent, neither is Costa.

The same goes for Sanchez at Arsenal. This match is important, but not as important as the first league game of the season.

I really hope Arsenal win the league this season because that will cap a successful rebuilding of the club.

More treats for football fans

ALL SMILES: Danny Menken, group managing director of Eleven Sports Network (left), and former Arsenal and Chelsea player Emmanuel Petit sharing a light moment at yesterday's launch of the new network.

Sports fans in Singapore can look forward to more content with the launch of Eleven Sports Network channels on Singtel TV.

Eleven, on Channel 109, will feature an exciting line-up of international football supplements, which include the Italian, Scottish, Portuguese and Brazilian leagues, the Copa Libertadores and fan favourites such as the English FA Cup and League Cup, as well as club channels of Arsenal and Liverpool. 

Fans of clubs in the second-tier English Championship will be pleased to know that they can follow the progress of their favourite teams on the new network as well.

Eleven Sports, on Channel 110, will be home to other premium global sports such as tennis, badminton, basketball and cycling, while Eleven Plus, on Channel 111, will be a platform for simulcast of matches.

All the channels will be available on mobile app Singtel TV GO.

"We are thrilled to partner with Singtel. They have a large share of the market here in Singapore and we're excited at the prospect of delivering our exclusive content to their fans," said Danny Menken, group managing director of Eleven Sports Network, at their launch at Club 39 yesterday.

"We know Singtel can help us achieve our mission to become the No. 1 destination for Singapore football and sports fans."

Eleven Sports Network has also reached an agreement with sports media rights agency MP & Silva for up to 2,000 hours of live programming annually on their channels.

Having made their on-air debut last weekend with the live broadcast of the pre-season Emirates Cup 2015, Eleven Sports Network will broadcast the FA Community Shield match between EPL winners Chelsea and FA Cup holders Arsenal tomorrow on Eleven (Channel 109).

PUNDIT PETIT

Viewers will also be able to enjoy Eleven Sports Network's first pre-match show, which features sports presenter Richard Lenton and World Cup-winning guest pundit Emmanuel Petit, who played for both London clubs during his illustrious career.

The network is also launching in Belgium, Poland and Malaysia by the start of the football season, and aims to expand its presence to other countries eventually with dynamic plans for sports fans globally.

arsenalCHELSEA (EPL)Community ShieldUncategorised