Iconic Duos: Arsenal’s monstrous midfield partnership, Petit and Vieira


Profitable soccer sides are cast on partnerships, the very important cogs that work cohesively collectively for the larger good of totally functioning machine. It may be argued that midfield is probably essentially the most pivotal element, the centre of the pitch generally known as the engine room.

The engine room, after all, homes the essential energy and its significance is infinite, each when it comes to mechanical engineering and metaphorically when discussing the very best groups in soccer historical past.

For an rising Arsenal aspect of the late nineties, their midfield mix of energy, poise, and dynamic drive laid the foundations for an unforgettable period in north London.


Arsenal had made a combined begin to the early Premier League period when the winds of change swept throughout the capital. George Graham’s profitable reign ended abruptly, earlier than the appointment of Bruce Rioch proved an underwhelming tenure.

Seeking a brand new path within the more and more cosmopolitan panorama of English soccer, the Gunners’ hierarchy selected the appointment of Arsene Wenger – a left-field appointment of a bit of identified Frenchman who had beforehand been teaching in Japan.

Within the month previous to Wenger’s appointment, the north Londoners had secured the signings of midfield duo Remi Garde and Patrick Vieira, the French duo arriving on the advice of the person about to take the teaching reins at Highbury.

The latter had struggled throughout a single season at AC Milan, failing to ascertain himself amongst a number of senior choices on the San Siro. Seeking common alternatives to keep away from his promising profession stagnating, he signed for Arsenal in a deal price £3.5m.

It proved impressed enterprise for the Gunners.

From the fledgling performances of Vieira’s profession with the membership it turned obvious Arsenal had unearthed a star, the 20-year-old’s long-legged stride consuming up the turf as he crashed into tackles and burst past opposition challenges.

While fashionable soccer has advanced to the purpose the place midfielders are sometimes attributed particular roles, Vieira was a footballer able to all of it. Removed from a jack of all trades, nonetheless, he was a grasp of many.

Ahead-thinking and mixing each approach and tenacity, his arrival immediately modified the dynamic of the Arsenal midfield, with Wenger’s aspect struggling throughout the Christmas interval of 1996/97 with their influential new signing suspended.

Having seen his aspect narrowly miss out on Champions League soccer on aim distinction, Wenger sought the signing of a companion for Vieira, raiding his former aspect Monaco to signal Emmanuel Petit.

Petit has spent a lot of his time in France at left-back, nevertheless it was in midfield the place the pony-tailed Frenchman cemented himself as one in every of Europe’s best.

Indefatigable, aggressive, and with a sublime poise usually related to left-footed footballers, he was the idealistic confederate to the box-to-box brilliance of Vieira.

Collectively in tandem the 2 drove Arsenal in the direction of success, a pairing of ferocious competitiveness which introduced chew forward of the long-lasting backline Wenger had inherited from his managerial predecessors

Their first season collectively noticed the Gunners emerge as England’s new footballing pressure, as Wenger’s shrewd signings from the continent and modern sports activities science strategies threatened Manchester United’s standing because the division’s dominant aspect.

Arsenal had trailed the reigning champions within the title race by a major distance following the Christmas Interval, with some bookmakers paying out on one other title heading to Previous Trafford.

United have been 12 factors clear on the high of the division in March, although Wenger’s aspect possessed three video games in hand and in addition needed to go to Manchester within the run-in.

Marc Overmars’ late winner at Previous Trafford proved the second of 12 consecutive wins for Arsenal, who powered down the straight to assert a primary Premier League title.

On the centre of their success was the dovetailing duo of Vieira and Petit, the latter named because the division’s Participant of the Month for April following a collection of stand-out performances for the Gunners.

Naturally intuitive to defensive menace, Petit screened the backline with class and calm, as Vieira brought on chaos with marauding runs ahead to overwhelm opposition sides.

The latter once in a while was a one-man stampede. Steely-eyed and with vapor-rub smeared throughout the chest of his Nike shirt, he was able to breaking groups aside with both the facility of his operating of finesse of his passing vary.

Sturdy and highly effective – each in thoughts and matter – their partnership proved the combative conduit between Arsenal’s defence and ahead menace, their profitable season leading to a home double as Newcastle have been crushed 2-0 within the FA Cup last at Wembley.

Established because the Premier League’s greatest midfield partnership, their qualities then mixed on the worldwide stage as France gained the 1998 World Cup on residence soil.

Petit starred in a extra outstanding position than Vieira and began the ultimate win over Brazil in Paris, scoring Les Bleus’ third on the break. The help got here fittingly from his Arsenal teammate, with Vieira – on instead on the Stade de France – rolling the ball into Petit’s path to place the completion on France’s triumph.

Embed from Getty Photographs

The next season noticed the axis of Petit and Vieira proceed to dominate video games for Arsenal, although the Gunners have been unable to duplicate their earlier season’s achievements as Manchester United’s treble-winning aspect pipped the north Londoners to league and cup success.

“A monster, his (Vieira) partnership with Emmanuel Petit was pretty much as good as something we now have seen. His efficiency towards Liverpool within the 2001 FA Cup last stands out. He was magnificent and didn’t need to be on the dropping aspect.

“In the dressing room afterwards, everyone kept saying: ‘how good was Vieira?’ Steven Gerrard still talks about that game as Vieira made him realise he had to climb a few more levels to reach the top.”

– Jamie Carragher

It marked the start of the top for the pair as a partnership, as Petit departed in 2000 to signal for Barcelona, however spent only a single disappointing season on the Camp Nou earlier than returning to the Premier League with Chelsea.

Viera remained integral to Arsenal’s triumphs throughout the flip of the millennium, including a second home double in 2001/02, earlier than captaining the Gunners throughout their historic unbeaten Premier League marketing campaign two seasons later.

Domineering and dynamic, his battles with Roy Keane turned an unforgettable chapter in Premier League historical past as Arsenal and Manchester United loved the best rivalry the division has seen.

After seven main trophies, 406 appearances, and legendary standing assured, he signed for Juventus in quest of a brand new problem earlier than a trophy-laden spell at Inter Milan.

Manchester Metropolis proved Vieira’s last vacation spot earlier than providing the Frenchman a route into teaching, as time was referred to as on a profession few will neglect.

Vieira will probably be remembered as one of many greats of Premier League historical past and is etched into Arsenal folklore, a rampaging midfield basic who stamped his authority on the most important events and dragged his teammates onwards.

Alongside Petit the duo have been an irrepressible pressure, combining to create a monstrous midfield dynamic that ushered in a brand new period of success at Highbury.

Learn – Remembering when a peak Dennis Bergkamp ripped it up in 1997/98

Learn Additionally – Midfield Magicians: Santi Cazorla, 5 foot and 4 inches of pure brilliance

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