Tag Archives: Matteo Guendouzi.

Mikel Arteta FA Cup headaches: Mesut Ozil & Matteo Guendouzi

Formation & Selection

Mikel Arteta clearly prefers 433 / 4231, but in recent weeks he has employed 3 (or 5?) at the back.

In 2017, Arsenal beat Chelsea playing 3 at the back, with masterful performances from Nacho Monreal, Per Mertesacker and Rob Holding.

Will we see 3 at the back again? With Rob Holding, David Luiz and either Kieran Tierney or Saed Kolasinac in defence?

Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos will surely continue their fruitful partnership in the middle of the park, but who flanks them?

On the left he has to chose between whichever left back does not play as a left centre back and Bukayo Saka.

The young Englishman has been poor in recent weeks, so might be better being used as an impact substitute if we convert to a back 4. Replacing the Alexandre Lacazette up top allowing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to play down the middle.

Auba will likely start wide left.

On the right hand side, Nicolas Pepe will likely be selected, but who plays behind him is a head ache.

With Cedric cup tied, it is a choice between Hector Bellerin and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

Bellerin is the better defender, but the Englishman gives more going forward and is perhaps better suited with playing wing back.

Arteta has also instructed Maitland-Niles to tuck into midfield from the right hand side at times, which he is more than capable of doing so. But Holding is not as good as covering the right hand side when he does this as Mustafi.

Arteta has quite a bit to think about.

Mesut Ozil

Having not played a minute since football restarted, Mikel Arteta has a dilemma.

Does he put Ozil on the bench, giving him a chance to win his 4th FA Cup medal? Or does he continue to cast him aside.

Something has gone wrong with their relationship.

Ozil played a lot under Arteta prior to the suspension of football, and not played a minute since football restarted.

Is it his refusal to take a pay cut? His attitude? His continual sick days with a “back injury”? Has he just fallen out of love with football? Now happy to go through the motions in training, not play and pick up his huge pay cheque.

Clearly something is not right there.

Whatever the decision, Arteta should announce it today to stop it being a big issue tomorrow.

Matteo Guendouzi

Following the defeat to Brighton, Guendouzi found himself out of the team with the club concerned about his attitude.

Like Ozil, he has not even made the bench since that incident, with the club reprotedly open to offers on him.

His immaturity is clearly a concern for the club – to the point where they had to discuss it with his “representatives” rather than the player himself.

We are a weaker squad with Guendouzi in it. If not playing, he can provide us energy coming off the bench.

Maybe missing out on an FA Cup final is the kick he needs? Arteta perhaps needs to offer the olive branch and at least let him take a place on the bench.

My gut is, following rows with Arteta in Dubai, mocking Freddie Ljungberg and Unai Emery, Guendouzi is done at Arsenal and will not be part of the travelling squad.

It will be a sad end to such a talented players Arsenal career.


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

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.