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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Josh O'Brien

Emmanuel Petit calls out “average” and “tired” Arsenal trio and urges Mikel Arteta change

Ex- Arsenal ace Emmanuel Petit has labelled Gunners central defensive duo Gabriel and William Saliba as "average" and claimed their form has drastically declined since the start of the season.

The pressure of a title charge is beginning to show on Mikel Arteta's side, who failed to win two successive Premier League games for the first time this season recently when they lost 1-0 at Everton followed by a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Brentford the following fixture.

Up next for Arsenal is their first league meeting with title rivals Manchester City, who can actually go above them with a win at the Emirates on Wednesday night. If the Gunners are to beat the reigning champions, it is likely they will need every single player at their best.

However, two first-team regulars have been singled out by former Arsenal star Petit for their drop in quality in recent weeks. The Frenchman did not hold back in his assessment of Gabriel and Saliba when discussing the duo ahead of the showdown with City.

Speaking to, Petit didn't exactly sound like he fancies the centre-back pairing's chances up against City talisman Erling Haaland.

"Saliba and Gabriel don’t look the same defenders as they used to a few months ago," he said. "In the last couple of games, they look average. Especially Saliba, he is not playing like he was earlier this season."

Gabriel Magalhaes and William Saliba both had their recent performances called into question by Emmanuel Petit ((Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images))

HAVE YOUR SAY! Is Petit's assessment of Arsenal's centre-backs fair? Comment below

Petit's comments are hardly untrue, Saliba has looked a shadow of the player that Arsenal had on their hands before the World Cup break. His performance against Brentford on Saturday was arguably his worst in a Gunners shirt, with the centre-back losing all 10 of the aerial duels he contested.

The defensive pair were not the only Arsenal stars to come under scrutiny from Petit, though he seemed significantly more sympathetic when discussing Gabriel Martinelli's recent struggles.

"I’m not surprised that he’s having a difficult time at the moment," Petit claimed. "He looks tired – mentally and physically. I would also say he has a tough time due to the tactical setup.

"With [Oleksandr] Zinchenko tucking inside to the midfield, he doesn’t get the same support as [Bukayo] Saka does on the right side with Ben White."

Martinelli's last few showings have inspired some Arsenal fans to call for the Brazilian to be dropped in place of January addition Leandro Trossard, who bagged his first Gunners goal against the Bees last Saturday.

Petit went on to add that while he feels the former Brighton ace probably should be handed a start, he thinks Arteta will stand by Martinelli for the biggest game of Arsenal's season so far.

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