History: Emanuel Petit- Arsenal’s French midfield Wizard who won the double

Emanuel Petit played a pivotal role during the early Arsene Wenger years in the late 1990s which sparked a rollercoaster of success for the next several years.

The midfielder would go onto wear the famous red and white shirt more than 100 times finding the target 11 times in total.

During his playing days at Monaco, Arsenal, Barcelona and Chelsea and on the International stage with France, Petit wrapped up a neat collection of trophies. He held one World Cup, one European Championship, a single Premier League title, an FA Cup, Community Shield, One French Cup (Coupe de France) and French Division 1 title (before it changed to Ligue 1).

Arguably his best days, domestically speaking, were at Highbury. Inside his first 1997/98 campaign at Arsenal with his energetic flare and great strength in the air he brought The Gunners their first of three Premiership titles in 1998 as well as the FA Cup, after Newcastle United were rattled 2-0 at Wembley to seal the double. He was recognised fairly quickly for his skill and talent where in April he was handed the Premier League Player of the Month award. Once the season was done and dusted he clinched the 1998 World Cup with France scoring in the final in the dying moments when Brazil was dismantled 3-0.

Petit came to the Gunners in 1997 pairing up with once AS Monaco manager Wenger who had nurtured the midfielder at the start of his football journey from 1988 to 1994. Whilst at the French side Petit rose to glory on two occasions after claiming the 1991 French Cup in a 1-0 beating over Marseille, before the French Division One trophy in 1997. Inbetween he reached the 1992 European Cup Winners Cup Final which Monaco bowed out 2-0 to Werder Bremen.

After having signed for The Gunners at peanuts price of £2.5 million in 1997 he would leave for nearly three times his original buying price when signing for Barcelona in 2000 for £7 million. Petit struggled to find his place at Camp Nou where he played only 23 times in four years up until 2001 due to being strained with multiple injuries and forced to play in the back four. After an epic 13 year stint with France he would hang up his boots for his country come 2003, witnessing him pick up 63 caps and six goals. After the feat he returned to Barca for his last hurrah finally scoring his solo goal against Rayo Vallecano in a 5-1 humiliation, not long before moving in 2001 to Arsenals London enemies Chelsea.

Petit’s finest hour at Stamford Bridge erupted in his opening campaign when he came up against old comrades Arsenal in the 2002 FA Cup final which he was on the 2-0 losing end of. The once £7.5 million signing tailored off rapidly at The Blues where by 2004 he had been let go by Chelsea. However, like at Barcelona, injuries got the better of him and in 2005 after struggling with a knee crisis he declared his days were finished as a footballer, following nearly 60 games and only a handful of goals at the Bridge.

Petit is still fondly remembered by fans for his excellence in midfield and was graced as the 22nd greatest footballer to play for Arsenal.

Liam Harding

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