Tag Archives: Matteo Guendouzi.

Would Bergkamp or Henry have survived the “Twitter era”

Yesterday I wrote about “The mystifying criticism of Matteo Guendouzi”.

The jist of the article was simple.

19-year-old Matteo Guendouzi ran the game against Newcastle. No play had more touches, no player played more passes, and only Aaron Ramsey had a great pass accuracy. Despite this, and Arsenal winning 2-0, some fans went on Twitter to criticise him immediately after the final whistle.

Two responses to the Guendouzi blog got me thinking.

It is frustrating about how kick we get on the back of youngsters who are still making their way in the world. They are given no time to develop, to establish themselves in the first team. People, and mainly Arsenal fans, expect every teenager to already be as good as Cesc Fabregas. It is a high bar.

I can not think of any teenage midfielder to have been good as Cesc Fabregas when he first came through. And there will probably never be one. If we are using his ability as the bar to what is good enough, we are setting unrealistic expectations of these young lads coming through.

One of the reasons why fans get on these young lads backs quickly is Twitter.

Again, absolutely spot on.

Twitter has changed the way fans view game. It has provided a platform of instant response, which in turn leads to an increase in expectation.

Every poor performance is Tweeted about thousands of times. Fans on the players backs the second the final whistle has blown.

Twitter, social media and 24 rolling news has put us in a “fast food era”. Everything has to be immediate, now, perfect. There is no room to develop, no room to progress, no time for someone to have a poor game.

It makes me wonder whether Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry would have survived the Twitter era.

Bergkamp joined Arsenal in 1995 on the back of a poor campaign with Inter Milan for a club record £7.5million. Inter Milan shipped him out, happy to get rid. Nearly 25-years-later, people would be moaning on Twitter that we had spent a club record on another sides reject. A flop.

The media were on Bergkamp’s back from the day he signed, with Alan Sugar quoted as saying “If Bergkamp thinks he’s gonna set the world alight he can forget it.”

The start of his Arsenal career would have gotten even more people on his back in the current era, as he failed to score in his 1st 6 games of the club.

At this point fans would have been all over social media calling him an expensive flop. Media outlets would be running stories of “the worst signing in the history of the game” and Sky would have spent an hour discussing his poor acquisition on the Sunday Supplement,

Bergkamp went on to become an Arsenal legend and is one of the greatest players to grace the English game.

Then we have Thierry Henry.

Like Bergkamp, Henry arrived from Italy after a poor season. This time for Juventus.

He only spent a year at Juventus, who dumped him after just 3 goals in his 19 appearances. Pace to burn, he struggled to defensively disciplined teams in Serie A.

He joined Arsenal for a club record fee (like Bergkamp).

If we bring his transfer into the modern era, fans would have been on Twitter moaning that we had spent a club record fee on an ineffectual winger. At 22-years-old, he certainly was not a youngster. What a waste of money, fans would have said.

And imagine the outrage when it transpired that Arsene Wenger was planning to use this average winger as a striker, as a replacement for Nicolas Anelka – the most exciting teenage striker on the planet.

And mirroring Bergkamp, he struggled in his opening games.

In 1999 blogging was a new thing. The internet was a new concept. But even back then there were Arsenal blogs. And I recall one slating Henry and Wenger. Bemoaning the fact that Arsenal had gone big on a failed winger and were not playing him upfront.

Had this happened in 2019 rather than 1999, this complaining would have been many times louder, many times more viscous. You would have had people offering to drive him back to France.

Henry’s first 8 games went by with 2 yellow cards and no goals. He finally broke his drought against Southampton – also the side that Bergkamp scored his first goal against.

Imagine in the current era, Arsenal spending a club record fee on a winger who had flopped in Italy, converting him to a striker and then watching him struggle to score in his first 8 games. There would be uproar.

Henry went on to become Arsenal’s record goal scorer and one of the greatest players the world has seen.

Both Bergkamp and Henry arrived at Arsenal having flopped in Italy. Both for club record fees. Both endured tough starts to their Arsenal career. I doubt either of them would have been given the chance to shine, to become the legends they are, if they were signed now.

Fans would have been on their back before they had even kicked a ball.

Keenos

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Guendouzi OUT, Rabiot, Nkunku + £42m IN

Matteo Guendouzi has been a fantastic signing.

Signed for just £7million last summer, it is easy to forget that he is just 18-year-old and had just 8 Ligue 1 appearances to his name.

The original plan would probably have been to use him at 6th choice central midfielder, behind Granit Xhaka, Lucas Torreira, Aaron Ramsey, Mo Elneny and Ainsley Maitland-Niles. The World Cup and some injuries saw him got some early game time and he has not looked back.

His form has led to speculation that PSG are considering a bid this summer.

I have spoken before about how Liverpool have been able to build a title winning squad by buying low, selling high and reinvesting that in more players. Over the last 5 seasons, they have bought in over £200m more in player sales than Arsenal. This has enable them to sign Allisson, Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah.

When you compare that to Arsenal who have lost about £200m in player sales over that period due to contracts and underselling players – think Alexis Sanchez, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck, Wojech Szczesny & Serge Gnabry – it leads us to the situation which we are now in. Liverpool 2nd, Arsenal 5th.

I have blogged previously that Arsenal will need to take a risk. Perhaps sell Lucas Torreira for big money and reinvest that on 3 or 4 players.

£60million for Matteo Guendouzi is huge money for a player with half a good season, and Arsenal should seriously consider it.

PSG have previously had problems filling their “home-grown” quota for the Champions League.

With the mega rich oil-financed club recruiting the worlds best players, this has often been at the detriment over French talent.

This has led to PSG signing the likes of Lassana Diarra, Hatem Ben Arfa, Benjamin Stambouli and Yohan Cabaye in recent years.

Despite France being current World Champions, very few of the national teams top players came from PSG.

With Adrien Rabiot, Christopher Nkunku and Lassana Diarra set to leave them in the summer, they will be left with just 4 senior French players in their squad.

This means they will need to go out to the market and recruit French, which in return will see premium price tags put on French players akin to what happens in England with English players.

Guendouzi would be an ideal signing for PSG.

He is one of the best young midfielders in world football. PSG would be signing him knowing that he has the potential to become a first team regular at the highest level – and not just to make up the numbers like Diarra, Ben Arfa et al.

He would be the perfect replacement for Rabiot.

Not only is Guendouzi French, he is Parisian.

Born in Poissy, an outer suburb of France, Guendouzi joined the PSG academy at the age of 6. He left Paris to join Lorient’s academy in 2014.

PSG fans will be wondering why they let such a talent out of their door at 15-years-old.

With the premium PSG will pay on French players, Guendouzi’s potential, and him being Paris-born. a fee in the region of £60million would not be too far from the truth – remember they spent £144million signing another Paris born teenager – Kylian Mbappe.

So should Arsenal take it? My heart might say no but my head says yes.

Let us paint a kick picture.

Arsenal sell Guendouzi for £60million. We then recruit two of the French central midfielders that PSG are set to lose this summer – Rabiot and Nkunku.

Rabiot is available on a free this summer and is a better player than Guendouzi.

They are very similar in the way they play (and look), but with Rabiot being 4-years Guendouzi’s senior, he is the more polished player. Closer to the finished article.

Guendouzi has the potential to be better than Rabiot, but we would be trading a player with a handful of appearances for someone with well over 200.

In January, Arsenal were also heavily linked with Christopher Nkunku for £18 million.

Were we to secure both Rabiot and Nkunku we would be improving our first XI and signing a talented youngster for the future. We would also be £42million up on the deal.

Sou would making the deal make sense?

Keenos

 

4312 for The Arsenal is not “too defensive”

Arsenal’s best performance this season came against Chelsea. A 2-0 victory in a game that The Gunners dominated.

The formation we played in that match was 4312. It is a formation we have played numerous times since; and one which Unai Emery has come in for some stick for.

Fans wrongly claim that we are playing 3 defensive midfielders. Lucas Torreira Granit Xhaka and Matteo Guendouzi. They are not all defensive midfielders.

Gunners Town recently spoke to a Lorient fan about Arsenal target Alexis Claude Maurice. During the discussion they talked about Guendouzi, who signed from Lorient last summer.

They expressed surprise at Arsenal fans labelling Guendouzi as a defensive or holding midfielder, as he has only ever been box-to-box growing up and was utilised in an attacking free role last season in French Ligue 2.

And that is the truth, Guendouzi does not play as a defensive midfielder. He is more box to box. A proper central midfielder. Like what Patrick Vieira was.

It seems in many fans mind, you are either an attacking midfielder (Mesut Ozil) or a defensive midfielder (Claude Makelele). There is nothing in between. But there is, and that is where Guendouzi sits.

Xhaka has also never really been an out and out defensive midfielder. In fact he struggled at Arsenal when he was the primary defensive midfielder.

For Borussia Mönchengladbach and Switzerland, he always played with someone behind him doing the bulk of the defensive work.

A hulk of a man, Xhaka did contribute to his sides defensively, but his man job was transitioning the ball from defence to attack with his excellent passing. He is not as box to box as Guendouzi, more a deep lying play maker. He certainly is not a defensive midfielder.

Lucas Torreira is the closest we have to a defensive midfielder, but even he is not a Makelele or Gilberto Silva.

The Uruguayan gets forward a lot more than someone who is simply a shied in front of a defence. And he is a much better passer and creator then people like Makelele, Gilberto or Fernandinho.

Whilst for Arsenal he is the deepest of the midfield 3, he is more than capable playing further forward. He is a talented guy.

The reality is, Emery is building a high energy midfield trio who can provide solid cover for the defence, but also push forward and press high.

Playing all 3 ensures that they can push forward backing up the front 3 when they press, knowing that one will still sit so that they are not all cut out with one ball through the midfield.

They also allow Hector Bellerin and Saed Kolasinac to bomb forward and provide extra cover for them.

I like the 12 upfront as well.

Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette both love dropping out wide. This then creates space in the middle for an attacking midfielder to bomb into. Aaron Ramsey would have been ideal for this role with his goal scoring record.

Back to the midfield, I can see us continuing to play 3 in the middle next season. It is why Emery is looking at the likes of Adrien Rabiot and Christopher Nkunku. If we play 3, we need 6.

If we secure both Frenchmen, it will enable us to cash in on Mohamed Elneny and, alongside Ainsley Maitland-Niles, we will have the midfielders we need to play the way Emery wants.

As for those who are still moaning about it being too defensive, let me ask you a question:

Is Liverpool’s midfield too defensive?

Liverpool also play a midfield 3. A trio combination of Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita, Georginio Wijnaldum and Fabinho.

Let’s compare their Premier League statistics to the lads at Arsenal:

Xhaka – 1885 minutes played – 3 Goals; 1 Aassist

Guendouzi – 1466 – 0G 0A

Torreira – 1790 – 2G 2A

 

Fabinho – 1096 – 1G 2A

Wijnaldum – 1774 – 1G 0A

Henderson – 1234 – 0G 0A

Keita – 970 – 0G 1A

Totals:

 

Arsenal midfield:

5140 minutes played

5 goals; 3 assists

Liverpool midfield:

5074 minutes played

2 goals; 3 assists

Yet no one is saying Liverpool’s midfield is “too defensive.”

The truth is, playing Xhaka, Torreira and Guendouzi is not too defensive. It is probably the only part of the Arsenal side that is solid and actually working at the moment.

Keenos