Premier League is starting! Winning the title is the most important thing for us, says Petr
On Friday night, it all starts anew! Arsenal is playing against Leicester, marking the beginning of a journey which ought to be crowned by lifting the trophy. “It’s time we finally ended the long wait,” says Petr, determined. Arsenal haven’t won the Premier League since 2004. It was at that time that a young Petr first came to England…
You’ve played in the Premier League for thirteen years. Do you still have the jitters at the start of the season?
It’s more like a pre-start fever. I’m excited. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been playing; you always want the season to start well, you want your team to do well and win all the trophies you desire.
Let me put it another way. What would your fourteenth season in England have to look like in order for you to say: This is what I wanted! at the end?
The title and one more trophy.
You’re not exactly holding back.
I couldn’t be, we’re Arsenal and winning the title is the most important thing for us this year. We’d be so happy if we finally made it. Arsenal has been waiting for too long.
Given what you’ve already achieved in football, are you still able to be happy about the little things?
Sure. Like for example the fact that pre-season went really well. Some people say it’s a little thing, I say it’s a necessity. It’s thanks to this feeling that I know I’m ready. And this feeling was confirmed in the super cup against Chelsea, which put me even more at ease.
You don’t even have to be stressed, no new goalkeeper came to Arsenal so there’s no competition for you. Has your role within the squad changed at all?
Not really. I’m still one of the oldest guys on the team and one of the captains, so I know what’s expected of me. Now all that matters is how I play and how useful I am on the pitch.
There’s a new assistant coach at the club, the famous German goalkeeper Jens Lehmann. He should be able to help you improve.
We believe so. Jens is a club legend, and now one of Mr Wenger’s assistants. He only works with the goalies when he has the time though.
So no change?
The only thing that affected us goalkeepers at Arsenal is the fact that our goalkeeping coach Gerry Peyton, who’s been at Arsenal since 2003, is going to undergo a hip surgery. He’s been replaced by Salvatore Bibbo, who’s only made some small touch-ups to our training sessions. I’d say everything is as usual. We’ve had a great pre-season and I feel ready.
You’ve been to Australia and China, you played some great matches. In the meantime, your competitors had spent big money on new players. What do you think about that?
It’s surprising. I’m not sure football is going in the right direction.
The figures I keep hearing are absurd. If PSG is willing to pay close to two hundred million pounds for Neymar, I have to ask: Where will this end?
Arsenal hasn’t exactly been thrifty either. They bought forward Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon and left back Sead Kolašinac from Schalke.
They might have cost a lot of money, but those weren’t frenzied transfers. And both guys immediately fit in. Sead scored an important goal in the super cup and Alex was a goal-scoring machine during pre-season. They’ve adapted quickly, they’re going to be great assets. I believe Alex’s goals will help us a great deal. They’re going to get on well with Olivier (Giroud) since they know each other from the French national team.
Maybe it was the changes that didn’t happen that was the most important thing for Arsenal. Both Mesut Özil and Alexis Sánchez are staying…
We’re all very glad. These two are our key players and they will help us a lot. Their attitude confirms that Arsenal is serious about going for the title.
What do you think about your competition?
I’m curious. There’s a lot of competitors: title-holders Chelsea, Tottenham, both Manchester sides, Liverpool… Everton also declared their intention to get into the top-four elite, they’ve spent incredible amounts of money. The fight for the top four spots will be tremendously hard.
What’s your guess?
I’m going to wait and see. Manchester City have bought exactly the kind of players they needed, they’re looking very strong. Manchester United brought on a big name for every position. Liverpool is refusing to sell Coutinho and their manager Klopp promises they will be strong as well. Tottenham didn’t spend much money because they didn’t need to. They looked really good during pre-season. But I still see Arsenal on the top.
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