Category Archives: Arsenal

Matteo Guendouzi in exile: Should he stay or should he go?

Since signing from Lorient in July 2018, Mattéo Guendouzi has been under scrutiny on an almost constant basis for reasons good, bad and now ugly. Following an on-pitch altercation with fellow Frenchman Neal Maupay at the final whistle, with the Brighton striker having scored an injury-time winner for the Seagulls, Guendouzi has been training alone, exiled from the first team.

This begs the question: do Arteta and Arsenal keep faith or is time to send him packing?

Not so long ago, the France U21 international was being heralded as one of the cornerstones of Arsenal’s midfield. Those who had been tried and tested before Guendouzi’s arrival were accused of lacking toughness and tenacity, a trademark of Arsenal midfielders in years gone by. Guendouzi impressed enormously throughout his debut campaign with a mixture of rugged determination off the ball and a composure beyond his years when in possession. He was everything the club had been crying out for since Patrick Vieira’s departure in 2005 but his attitude has let him down too often and, as a result, the incident at Brighton may be the last we see of him in an Arsenal shirt.

Since his appointment at the end of 2019, head coach Mikel Arteta has made it a priority to change the culture of the club. Learning his trade as Pep Guardiola’s assistant at Manchester City, it is not surprising that one of Arteta’s key principles is his demand for professionalism of the highest standard. Consequently, he made it abundantly clear on returning to Arsenal that any player not willing to adhere to his values and vision were more than welcome to play their football elsewhere. This was a rude awakening for some players, who’s standard had dropped during Unai Emery’s disastrous final month at the helm. A notable wake-up call was given to Ainsley Maitland-Niles who, after publicly voicing his displeasure at playing as a right-back, was dropped by Arteta for the final five games before the suspension of football due to the coronavirus pandemic in March. However, since the resumption of football last month, Maitland-Niles has featured in four of the Gunners’ six matches, realising that he must conduct himself well both on and off the pitch in order to compete for a spot in the starting line-up.

Worryingly for Guendouzi, his skirmish with Maupay is the latest in a succession of indiscretions he has committed over his short career. He was reprimanded at Lorient for a row with manager Mickael Landreau that saw him cast from the first team for over three months. Earlier this season, he was given a warning by Arteta about his conduct following an incident at a team event during their winter break to Dubai.

Fast-forward to the present day and it is difficult to see a future for Guendouzi at Arsenal. Given his personal issues and the fact that if Arteta were to sanction a sale, he could leave for £40m, a significant profit on the £8m it took to bring him to north London two summers ago. Despite the current situation,  Maitland-Niles’ revival serves as an example to the wavy-haired Frenchman that, should he be willing to show remorse for his previous actions and a desire to improve on and off the pitch, a place in the Arsenal squad is still up for grabs.

Zac Campbell

Match Report: Arsenal 1 – 1 Leicester

Arsenal (1) 1 Leicester City (0) 1

Premier League

Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU

Tuesday, 7th July 2020. Kick-off time: 8.15pm

(3-4-2-1) Emiliano Martínez; Shkodran Mustafi, David Luiz, Sead Kolašinac; Hector Bellerin, Dani Ceballos, Granit Xhaka, Kieran Tierney; Bukayo Saka, Alexandre Lacazette; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Substitutes: Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Lucas Torreira, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Rob Holding, Nicolas Pépé, Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock, Eddie Nketiah, Matt Macey.

Scorers: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (21 mins)

Red Cards: Eddie Nketiah

Yellow Cards: Shkodran Mustafi

Arsenal Possession Percentage: 38%

Referee: Chris Kavanagh

Attendance: A maximum of 300 attendees due to UK government coronavirus restructions

Tonight we entertain the enigmatic Leicester City, who are currently sitting third in the Premiership table. It is vitally important that we continue our winning run at The Emirates tonight, as we need to put pressure on Wolverhampton Wanderers (who we defeated on Saturday) and above them, Manchester United, in order to grab a Europa League place for next season. Let’s go!

Arsenal certainly had the best of the early exchanges tonight, and we showed confidence in all departments of the team. Emiliano Martínez made two important early saves from the visitors, the best of them being a snap shot from Marc Albrighton which he kept out of the net with his feet! Leicester City started to move the ball around a little faster with more aggression and certainly more purpose, which left them wide open for a quick attack from our chaps. Kieran Tierney struck a beautiful shot from twenty-five yards which Caspar Schmeichel parried, but a couple of minutes later we broke out of defence, with Bukayo Saka receiving the ball on the right from a long ball that came his way via Dani Ceballos; he slotted the ball across the Leicester penalty area and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang simply tapped the ball home for the opening goal of the match. The goal quickly livened up the proceedings, and on the half hour mark, Bukayo Saka was unlucky not to score, when his strongly taken shot was parried by Caspar Schmeichel for a corner. Now the wind was certainly in our sails, and we started to expose the weaknesses in the visitors’ defence time and time again. Alexandre Lacazette, by rights, should have scored, and had it not been for the alertness of the Leicester goalie, he would have found himself on the score sheet. We moved the ball around very well, despite being hampered by the North London rain, and we kept continuing to probe the Leicester goal with intelligent shots which came from clever midfield play, mainly from the peerless Dani Ceballos, who was playing with great freedom and awareness. The wet conditions meant that there were one or two unfortunate accidents just before the break, and by the time the referee blew for half-time, both sets of players looked like they were ready for a hiatus.

The second half started off just as lively as the first, with some interesting end-to-end play being created from both teams. A foul on Alexandre Lacazette just outside the box led to a well-taken free-kick from David Luiz, whose shot was turned away by Caspar Schmeichel for the first of three consecutive corners. Emiliano Martínez made a superb match-saving save from Kelechi Iheanacho ten minutes after the restart, and it was becoming obvious to everyone that the conditions were starting to ruin what would otherwise be a far more open match than it was. However, we still managed to exert pressure on the visitors, and a potential second goal by Alexandre Lacazette was chalked off for offside just before the drinks break. Joe Willock and Eddie Nketiah replaced Alexandre Lacazette and Bukayo Saka with twenty minutes of the match remaining, which gave us pace, strength and fresh legs where it was needed out there. Ridiculously and pointlessly, Eddie Nketiah was dismissed just four minutes after arriving on the pitch for at best, what could be described as a strikers’ tackle. Being down to ten men, Arsenal now put their shoulders to the wheel and changed formation to accommodate the loss of a man. Dani Ceballos was replaced by Lucas Torreira on the eightieth minute, and five minutes later, taking advantage of the extra man on the pitch, Jamie Vardy grabbed the equaliser. With eight minutes’ injury time, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was replaced by Ainsley Maitland-Niles, and suddenly the match became more frenetic with both sides sensing the urgency to grab the winning goal, but it was not to be, and the scores finished even on a wet and controversial evening.

Overall, we deserved to get more out of this match than we ended up with, and if Eddie Nketiah had not had been dismissed controversially, then we may well have ended the match as the victors, as we did have enough chances to win this match quite comfortably. Still, although it’s two points dropped, we still come out of this game with a point, which is certainly better than nothing. Kieran Tierney and Dani Ceballos were superb tonight, as was Emiliano Martínez; with the North London derby coming up on Sunday, we need to go into that game with the winning mentality that we have shown of late, and if we do that, then there’s no reason why we cannot return home with three points. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Tottenham Hotspur at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, 782 High Rd, Tottenham, London N17 0BX on Sunday, 12th July at 4.30pm(Premier League). Victoria Concordia Crescit.

Steve

Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.

Mustafi to stay, Guendouzi to go as Arsenal look to go 6th

Games are coming thick and fast now.

Tonight we play Leicester. And if it feels like we only played a couple of days ago; that is because we did.

Whilst some managers have complained about the short turn around for players, the actual truth is that teams in Europe are in this situation every season.

Arsenal would have played Saturday / Sunday and Tuesday / Wednesday for 6 weeks (bar a game against Southampton on a Thursday).

This is not much difference than what clubs do in November and October, jumping from weekend Premier League games to mid-week European and League Cup matches.

The only major difference is there is no international break (which sees players fly across the globe) and the furthest a club would have to travel is either Newcastle or Bournemouth rather than taking midnight flights to deepest darkest Eastern Europe, also known as Belarus.

For teams like Arsenal, players will be used to playing twice a week. And the lack of long travel for Euro aways is actually easier on their body.

Teams lower down in the league might complain that they do not have the resources to play twice a week for long periods, but you never hear them feel sorry for top clubs when they arrive back in the UK from Moscow at 3am Friday morning, and then need to be in Newcastle for a noon kick off on Sunday.

Plenty of news floating about this morning.

The first is Arsenal are considering a new deal for Shkodran Mustafi.

He has been in fine form since returning to the team under Mikel Arteta, and has always been a good centre back. He just makes a mistake every 7 or 8 games that leads to conceding a goal. And it always seemed to lead to a goal which saw Arsenal lose, rather than a consultation goal in a 5-1 victory.

With his deal running out next summer, Arsenal need to make the decision soon.

The club have been impressed with his contribution during the Covid19 pandemic. The German donated over 16,000 meals and other emergency supplies to people in Islington.

He has stepped up as a personality within the squad, and maybe the club have looked at the finances and what players are available on the market and decided Mustafi might be the best choice?

With Pablo Mari signing, David Luiz staying and William Saliba returning, adding Mustafi and one of Rob Holding or Calum Chambers would not be a bad group of central defenders.

Since Arteta took over, Arsenal have conceded 14 goals in 15 league games. Only Liverpool and Manchester United have conceded less (11). Across all games Arsenal have kept 10 clean sheets in 21 games.

The current defenders at the club are certainly making a case to be kept, rather than big investment made in another new central defender.

My gut is stick with what we have, Saliba and Mari are new signings, and then next summer recruit someone to replace David Luiz is Mari, Saliba or Mustafi do not form a solid partnership.

LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 24: Shkodran Mustafi of Arsenal embraces Matteo Guendouzi of Arsenal after the UEFA Europa League group F match between Arsenal FC and Vitoria Guimaraes at Emirates Stadium on October 24, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

On William Saliba, a headline this morning is that “Arsenal have made a U-turn” with allowing him to play in the French Cup final.

This story has always been written from a very odd standpoint.

The media criticised Arsenal for “going back on an agreement” that “angered Saint-Étienne.” But then the truth came out that Saint-Étienne were demanding an additional £2.5million for Saliba to play one game.

Why would Arsenal pay the French side £2.5million to pay one game when not contracted to? – remember the original loan deal had expired so a new temporary loan deal would have to be agreed.

Arsenal were painted in the media as the bad guys, when it is clear that all Saint-Étienne was the money.

Now it is reported that “Arsenal have made a U-turn”. Again, making it appear Arsenal were the bad guys.

Chances are it is Saint-Étienne who have U-turned; realising that having their first choice central defender play a final is more important than the £2.5million they wanted Arsenal to pay.

The French side basically had a choice:

  1. Accept no fee, get Saliba for the final
  2. Do not accept no fee, don’t get Saliba for the final, receive no money

In both situations they do not get money; but in only one situation they get their on-loan defender for their biggest game in recent history.

We end today with the rumours over Matteo Guendouzi.

David Ornstein broke the news last night that the Frenchman had been training alone since the post-match spat with Brighton.

It shows Arteta’s authoritarian stance.

Guendouzi has previously mocked Unai Emery, cause issues for Freddie Ljungberg and was dropped following a row with coaching staff during the mid-season trip to Dubai.

A lot of Guendouzi’s behaviour can be labelled as “immature”.

From mocking Emery’s accent to taking his shirt off at dinner and waving it over his head in Dubai. Whilst he is only 21-years-old, footballers need to grow up quickly.

Everyone has been impressed with the maturity shown by Bukayo Saka. He talks well and behaves in the way you would expect of an Arsenal youngster.

Compare Guendouzi to Declan Rice.

They are the same age, but in recent weeks Rice has stepped up as a leader on the pitch for West Ham, captaining them a few times. He is showing the mentality needed to become a top player. Guendouzi is not.

The ball is now in Guendouzi’s court.

He either needs to take responsibility for his behaviour, his actions; stop being the class clown and concentrate on his football. Or be sold.

Guendouzi’s current deal runs out in 2022. This summer he should be signing a new 5-year double your money deal. Instead he could find himself being shipped out.

There will be no shortage of suiters for the midfielder, who is still one of the brightest prospects in Europe. Like with Mario Balotelli and other problem players, managers will think “if he matures, I can get him to play, there could be a world class player in there”.

Arsenal might be best off getting cashing in rather than hoping he quickly matures.

The £40million he would raise would be key transfer funds, almost paying for Thomas Partey.

On a final note, we remember the 52 people that died in the 7/7 London bombings; 15 years ago today. We shall never surrender.

Keenos