Tag Archives: Matteo Guendouzi.

How have Arsenal’s new boys settled in?

With us in the middle of the most boring time in football – a pointless international break filled with glorified friendlies, it is perhaps a chance to reflect on the start of the season, and see how the new boys have bedded in.

Bernd Leno

To many peoples frustration, Petr Cech start began the season as first choice keeper.

Unai Emery’s philosophy is that new players have to force their way in, to prove that they are better than the incumbent first team players. This led to Cech starting the season as number 1.

Leno’s opening came when Cech limped off injured against Watford in the league. Prior to that he had only played in the Europa League and League Cup – where he conceded goals but did not have much to do.

Against Watford he looked a little shaky, coming off the bench. However he made some smart stops and distribution was excellent.

Fulham was a vastly improved performance, with some sharp saves. He could have done little with their goal.

It will take a while for him to get used to the physical side of the Premier League – with the bumping and barging at corners. His shot stopping and distribution are certainly up to standard.

With Cech set to miss the next 3 or 4 games, Leno will have plenty of time to establish himself as first choice.

Stephan Lichtsteiner

The experienced Swiss right back has not had much of a chance this season.

Beyond a substitute appearance at left back versus Manchester City, his 3 starts have been limited to the Europa League and League Cup.

His influence on the pitch may well be happening at the training ground, however.

Lichtsteiner has bought some leadership to the playing squad, and you have to feel that he has bought his winners mentality to the training ground.

We have also seen improvements in Hector Bellerin as the season has gone on. The presence of Lichtsteiner must surely be helping to push the Spaniards performances to the next level.

It would not overly surprise me if Lichtsteiner’s one-year deal was extended by a further 12 months.

Sokratis

Greek centre back Sokratis (I can not be bothered to Google his surname) has split opinion.

Some have labelled him clumsy, slow and uncultured, whilst others have praised him for being aggressive, and focusing on defending and clearing the ball.

I fall into the later camp.

We focus too much on ball playing centre backs. “Rolls Royce defenders” like Rio Ferdinand. Players like the now retired Englishman who looked classy but could also defend are few and fair between.

Sokratis is a defender. He defends. That is what he is paid for.

What he creates is a rock at the back that others can play around. A reliable defender that will let Arsenal go out and get a ball playing partner, knowing they have a solid option next to him.

He is more Vidic than Ferdinand, and is exactly what Arsenal have needed for a decade.

Lucas Torreira

Uruguayan central midfielder Lucas Torreira has been a revolution since he broke into the team. He is exactly the player we have been missing for some years.

Like Sokratis, he understands his role within a balanced XI. He is there to defend, to shield the back 4, to provide them cover. His influence on the entire team is obvious to all.

Torreira not only defends, however. He can also play. Comfortable with the ball at his feet, he has given the side another passing option alongside Xhaka.

The sign of a top player is they make those around them look better, Torreira has done this with Xhaka. It is a partnership that we can look forward to developing as the years role on.

It is incredible to think that Torreira is just 22-years old. He will deveop into one of the best central midfields in the world.

Whilst Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool went big on Fred, Jorginho, Fabinho and Kieta, Arsenal secured Torreira for just £22m – we clearly got the best player.

Onwards and upwards for the lad!

Mattéo Guendouzi

The greatest compliment you can give Matteo Guendouzi is that people are now wondering why we did not cash in on Aaron Ramsey in the summer.

Football is easy in hindsight, and no one could have guessed when we signed the 19-year old Sideshow Bob impersonator from the French Division 2 for just £7million that he would be pushing senior team mates down the pecking order.

The fear for the club over the summer with Ramsey is that we only had 2 senior midfielders – Xhaka and Elneny. Torreira was a new signing and Guendouzi was coming in to be on the fringes of the first team squad. He was pencilled in for the Europa League and League Cup.

Due to players returning from the World Cup, Guendouzi got some game time. And he has proved the old age correct. If you are good enough, you are old enough.

People already actually forget that he is just 19. He is younger than Mason Mount, who was called up for the England squad after some impressive displays in the Championship.

He has not been perfect this season. He is a little bit slow on the ball when passing, and doesn’t easily make space for himself to receive the ball off the defenders. But he is 19-years old, and will improve.

Guendouzi has moved ahead of Elneny in the pecking order and is first choice back up for Xhaka and Torreira. His performances are going to save Arsenal a lot of money when it comes to Ramsey leaving.

The Frenchman will have a bad patch. All young players do. But with the squad depth around him, Emery will be able to take him out when he is performing poorly.

This lad has a bright future.


In summary, the first full transfer window for Sven Mislintat has been a success. He has added some experienced leaders to the squad, and signed some very talented young players.

He seems to have bought pro-active planning to Arsenal’s transfers for the first time in years.

Keenos

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Everton, Matteo Guendouzi, Emile Smith Rowe and more…

Everton

We play Everton tomorrow in our 2nd game of 4 in a row at home.

After 2 defeats in the opening two games, we have now won 4-in-a-row.

Victory would propel Arsenal towards the top 4 and would keep the club on course to get around 75 points this season – only once has a club got 75 points or more and failed to finish in the top 4 – ironically Arsenal in 2016/17.

Just as important as the victory would be the first clean sheet of the season.

Arsenal have already conceded 9 Premier League goals this season – the fifth highest in the league. Add conceding 2 against FC Vorskla and it is a slight cause for concern.

There is only so many times you can keep scoring 3 or 4 to win a game before you start dropping points.

I wouldn’t say no to a boring 1-nil to The Arsenal tomorrow.

Matteo Guendouzi

The incredible thing about Matteo Guendouzi was when he came on against FC Vorskla on Thursday, no one saw him as a youngster getting a run out.

Making his debut in that game was Emile Smith Rowe, the 18-year old becoming the first player born after the turn of the millennium to play in Arsenal’s first team.

Guendouzi is just a year older than the Englishman, but the feeling around the pair is remarkably different.

Smith Rowe coming on felt like a kid getting a chance, Guendouzi coming felt like a senior professional coming on.

At £7million, Guendouzi so far has been a terrific piece of business.

Even if he was 22 or 23 years old, we would be saying that Guendouzi  was a great find by Sven Mislintat, coming from the French second division. The fact he is just 19 further highlights how important good recruitment is in the modern era of crazy transfer fees.

He has jumped ahead of Mohamed Elneny in the pecking order, and whilst Lucas Torreira should start ahead of him, his signing and development is going to save us millions in the future.

Between Guendouzi and Ainsley Maitland-Niles we have two quality young central midfielders. Even if their potential is to only become squad players, that will result in about £50m worth of talent for just £7million.

Guendouzi still has plenty of rough ages to be polished, and it is too early to compare him with the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Patrick Vieira; but if he stays injury free (Abou Diaby, Jack Wilshere) and motivated (Denilson) there is no reason he can not reach the top.

Emile Smith Rowe

On Emile Smith Rowe, he had a great little cameo.

A lot has been talked about recently of young Arsenal players leaving the club in their droves.

Stephy Mavididi (Juventus), Marcus McGuane (Barcelona), Chris Willock (Benfica), Donyell Malen (PSV), Kaylen Hinds (VfL Wolfsburg), Daniel Crowley (Willem II) and Vlad Dragomir (Perugia) to have left the club in the last 12 months for a new challenge abroad.

Instead of it being a negative that Arsenal have lost these players, I actually see it as a positive.

Arsenal are either offloading, or not getting in the way of players who are simply not good enough, and ever really likely to make it.

Someone like Mavididi was let go because Arsenal had Eddie Nketiah coming through. Nketiah is a year younger than Mavididi and ahead of him in the pecking order.

Smith Rowe would have ended the Arsenal careers of a few players who were older than him.

On the list of players who have left, you have to think him coming through was why we did not work harder to keep Chris Willock or Daniel Crowley. He has also now moved ahead of Joe Willock – who is older.

Just 18-years old, he showed some nice touches. At times his passing was a little heavy, but I look forward to watching his development – both in the Europa League and against Brentford in the League Cup.

We have some very good youngsters coming through and are reigning Premier League 2 Champions (U23). If we have a talented 17-year old breaking through who is better than a 19-year old within the squad, we have to make the tough decision in the best interests of the club.

New Spurs Stadium

Over the months I have tried to keep abreast of what is happening at the Spurs stadium. This is more to do with my day job than my interest as an Arsenal fan.

It was well known back in March that there were major problems and that it would not be ready for the start of the season. Despite know this, Tottenham still sold season tickets based on playing at the new ground, and created an advertising campaign that the new Tottenham Stadium would be the only place in London to watch Champions League football this summer.

There has been more than one major issue during the complex build, and the chaos is starting to make national news.

The root of the problems is in how the deal to build the stadium was structured.

Normally with a build as big as this, you leave it to the experts. You appoint a main contractor to oversee the entire project, sub contract the packages out, and maintain full operation control of the build. All the “client” does is visit the site, keep an eye on things. Arsenal did this with Sir Robert McAlpine and the Emirates Stadium.

Teamwork and exemplary management made sure the award-winning Emirates Stadium was in a league of its own is the quote that go’s alongside details of the project on the McAlpine website.

Tottenham chose to have direct commercial relationships with individual subcontractors, which also meant it appointed Mace as construction manager rather than overall main contractor.

Some subcontractors have felt they were being “pinched” by the terms of these direct deals with the club. Tottenham pushing down the prices despite the cost of builds in London increases.

This led to some trades acting purely in their own interests, rather than also considering overall project progress, which led to further complications and delays. Cutting corners. Rushing jobs to get out of there.

Up against things financially, they did not want to spend any more time or resources on the project then they had to, and their work was unsupervised with Mace only able to “advise” subbies – normally onsite the main contractor would be at the top of the pyramid, in charge of all those below them. Instead everyone reports directly into the Tottenham project management team.

In construction, there is a long held theory of buy cheap, buy twice. It feels like by pushing down sub contractors and going for the cheapest possible options, the overall project is actually going to be way over budget. And it already extremely late.

At the time, Daniel Levy probably felt he was getting a good deal on the stadium, but as costs move past the £1bn mark and the stadium set not to open until 2019, the cheap route has ended up the wrong route.

And by maintaining full control, it seems the financial punishments for late delivery of a project that a main contractor would be liable to pay do not exist.

Keenos

Out with the old, in with the new

March 2006, Arsenal v Juventus in the Champions League. ‘The King is Dead! Long Live the King!’ was the first line of the match report as an 18-year Cesc Fabregas dominated a 29-year old Patrick Vieira in the middle of the park.

This Champions League tussle had gone worse than Vieira could ever have anticipated. Humiliated by his old side, booed by his old fans, the Juventus player’s performance had gone some way to vindicating Arsene Wenger’s decision last summer to say a sad farewell.

You know you’ve been slow to react when Robert Pires, not exactly known for his tackling, pinches the ball from behind with a neat sliding challenge. That ignomy befell Vieira on the halfway line just before half-time and if that made him feel bad what happened next would only have made things much worse. The resulting move was both simple and devastating. Pires to Thierry Henry, Henry to Fabregas.

The 18 year-old slipped the ball confidently past the stranded Gianluigi Buffon before ecstatically wheeling away to salute the West Stand. Over on the other side of the pitch Vieira stood motionless.

The match not only justified Wenger’s decision to finally allow Vieira to leave after about 5 years of flirting with Real Madrid – the Frenchman was a shadow of his former self; but also vindicated his decision to replace him with a teenage Spaniard.

Not content with just a goal that night, Cesc also added an assist as he dominated the midfield.

Fabregas, by this stage, was totally bossing the match, linking up constantly with Henry in the attacking third. It was beautiful to watch: two world-class talents in riveting form.

The promise soon turned into something solid, something wonderfully inventive when Fabregas embarked on yet another burst into the box. Once Alexander Hleb had spotted the run, the result was almost a foregone conclusion. Drawing Buffon and two grasping defenders, the composed teenager slipped the ball sideways to the waiting Henry. Goal number two and a very useful cushion to take to Turin.

Now Jack Wilshere was certainly no Patrick Vieira. Not even close, and Matteo Guendouzi is some way off 18-year old Cesc Fabregas – but then has any teenage central midfielder ever done what he has done? but the comparison is clear and obvious.

In the summer, 26-year old Wilshere decided to call time on his Arsenal career as Arsenal failed to meet his terms. The Englishman had been beset with injuries for years, and like with Vieira, many felt it was time for him to leave.

Joining the club was 18-year old Guendouzi from Lorient in the French second division. Not really seen as a replacement for Wilshere, a few good performances in pre-season pushed him up the pecking order to the point where he started against both Manchester City and Chelsea – games Wilshere would have been in the starting XI for.

Guendouzi has quickly become a fans favourite and against West Ham will face the old Prince of Highbury, Wilshere.

Wilshere has already spoken about how he has a point to prove that Arsenal were wrong to get rid of him. Interesting use of language there that the Englishman sees him leaving on a free transfer as Arsenal’s decision, not his.

Young Guendouzi, meanwhile, will be motivated to show that Arsenal were correct in letting Wilshere leave, and looking at younger, fitter players.

Since he joined the club, Arsenal have released Josh Dasilva to Brentford.

Dasilva was rated highly by many of those that had seen him, but he is 6 months older than Guendouzi, who is clearly ahead of him in the pecking order.

Like with Fabregas, it is easy to forget that Guendouzi is barely an adult. He only turned 18-years old in April this year.

Against West Ham, and against Wilshere, he will have a chance to have his Fabregas moment. To show that he is better than the man he replaced.

Like Vieira defined the beginning of the Arsene Wenger era, Guendouzi  could be the man to kick start the Unai Emery years.

Keenos