Mikel Arteta has reacted to Emmanuel Petit’s comments about Arsenal’s senior players treating the club like a ‘vacation’.
Petit was critical of his former side following the Gunners’ disappointing 3-0 defeat at home to Liverpool last weekend, the north London side producing a poor performance in an emphatic defeat at the Emirates.
Several of the club’s senior stars – including club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – were criticised following a perceived lack of effort and former Arsenal midfielder Petit questioned the example being set by the club’s most experienced professionals.
“I still believe they have some quality players available to them – do I think they have many quality players? No! They have a good group of young players, though that are still learning.” Petit told Ladbrokes in the wake of the defeat to Liverpool.
“I think some of those youngsters can become very good in years from now – but to do that, they need to see an example being set by the senior players. It shouldn’t be at a club like Arsenal that the younger players are the only ones showing passion, fight and aggression.
“It needs to come from the older players who should lead by example. When I look at the older players in the team, it’s like they think it’s a retreat football club, somewhere you just go for a vacation.
“If you took away the name ‘Arsenal’ and looked at that group of players… 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 of the dressing room out.”
Arsenal will be looking to bounce back when they face Slavia Prague in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final this evening and ahead of the clash, Arteta has responded to Petit’s comments.
The Spaniard admits it is his responsibility to ensure the Gunners have a competitive and committed side, insisting any player without a ‘passion’ to succeed at the Emirates will be moved on.
“He [Petit] knows the club well,” Arteta said at his pre-match press conference.
“He was here in their most successful years and has that opinion. I’m here to change that opinion.
“I am here to give my evaluation of what I see every day and where we are and I know where we are and where we want to go. We have to respect that.
“Showing passion goes with the character. People who are much more extroverted than introverted show more emotion with their body language than others.
“But it doesn’t mean it does not hurt as much. For sure, players who don’t have that passion, that emotion and that commitment, won’t be in this football club.”