Belfast Telegraph

Barcelona v Arsenal Champions League: Gunners lack leadership says former star Petit

By Cian Tracey

Former Arsenal star Emmanuel Petit believes Arsenal's problems lie in their psychology rather than their ability.

The passion with which he speaks about the club where he spent three seasons, during which time he won the league and cup double in 1998, shows that he still cares greatly.

And that's why he is frustrated that the daunting task of trying to overturn a 2-0 deficit against reigning European champions Barcelona - where Petit also played - when the pair clash at the Nou Camp tonight probably provides their final chance of silverware this season.

The Gunners crashed out of the FA Cup to Watford on Sunday and lie 11 points behind surprise leaders Leicester City in the Premier League, which has brought further criticism for under-fire manager Arsene Wenger.

"I think Arsenal have been missing something for ages - it's mental," said Petit.

"They've got great players and the way they used to play, for me, was up with the best in Europe but playing well on the pitch doesn't mean you're going to win the title.

"You can play badly as well but you can win the game. One thing that's wrong with Arsenal is that you can see a lot of the players give up on the pitch.

"Mentally, I think they need to improve a lot but in terms of quality they have everything to win the title.

"I think Arsene has done a great job in the 20 years he has been there and I respect that, but when you look at the titles they won, it was because they had great leaders in the team.

"They have great players, but they are missing leaders and personality. If you want to win things, then you need to suffer."

Having handed Petit his first professional contract, the relationship with Wenger is understandably strong but he admits that it is time for his former boss to take on a director of football role within the club.

"Arsene and I have been friends for 25 years, he was my first manager. He brought me from the Monaco academy to the Arsenal first team," added Petit. "We won trophies, a European trophy, we did great things together with Arsenal, so I won't say that he has to leave.

"I am pretty sure he has to stay at the club but maybe it's time for him to open the door for someone else as well.

"When I look at the former players from Arsenal, how many of them have their badges to manage a team?

"Dennis Bergkamp, Tony Adams, Patrick Vieira - many, many great players, they have their own statue in front of the stadium. I think for Arsene it's good to share the place with someone else and try to open the door to former players."

Champions League: Nou Camp, 7.45pm (BT Sport)

Barcelona lead 2-0 on agg



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