Arsenal hero Emmanuel Petit tears into Fabio Vieira before Chelsea tie

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Emmanuel Petit claims that Arsenal have made a mistake by signing Fabio Vieira, who he believes is ‘not ready’ for the Premier League. The Portuguese arrived with an exciting reputation after shining for Porto last campaign, but ahead of Tuesday’s showdown between the Gunners and Chelsea, he is yet to live up to his billing.

Sporting director Edu sanctioned a £34million deal for Vieira, who was always likely to find game time elusive with club captain Martin Odegaard occupying the lone attacking midfield role under manager Mikel Arteta.

Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey have been similarly dependable in the middle of the park this season, reducing Vieira to just 466 minutes of Premier League action since his arrival, which has yielded one goal and two assists.

The 22-year-old looked particularly shaky when standing in for Xhaka against Southampton last month, when the Saints left the Emirates with a shock 3-3 draw. Nearly 11 months into his spell in north London, Petit has seen enough to reach a grim conclusion.

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“I don’t think Fabio Vieira has shown as of yet, that he is the right level to play for Arsenal,” the Frenchman told “When he signed I thought to myself ‘this guy looks very lightweight for the Premier League’. I don’t think he’s ready for the Premier League physically and mentally.

“You can also say that he’s struggled not getting consistent game time and when you compare him to Emile Smith-Rowe, who I think has a future with Arsenal, he’s not the same. Respectfully, I think it was perhaps a mistake signing Vieira.”

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Only time will tell whether the Gunners look to cut their losses on Vieira by selling him this summer, with Arteta poised to build a squad capable of competing on multiple fronts. Extra strength at centre-back is sorely needed after conceding 11 goals in their last four matches, with the absence of William Saliba wreaking havoc.

Back-up option Rob Holding is again poised to step in for Chelsea’s visit to the Emirates on Tuesday night, and Petit concurs that his former club needs an upgrade on the centre-back if they are to fight for major honours.

“I don’t want to criticise Holding, he puts in a lot of effort and has done his very best, but if you want to win titles I think it’s difficult for Holding to play every game as he’s been required recently,” he added.

“I can see Gabriel [Magalhaes] doesn’t have the same confidence when he plays with Holding, he looks like a different defender. Defensively Arsenal are not as strong when Saliba and Gabriel do not play together, it impacts on the rest of the team, they don’t play the same way.”

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