Tag Archives: Matteo Guendouzi.

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

 

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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

Arsenal punished due to refereeing inconsistency

Referee Paul Tierney was completely correct in booking Granit Xhaka, Shkodran Mustafi and Matteo Guendouzi for diving.

We have to remember that a dive is not just feigning contact. FA rules state:

Diving is defined as an attempt by a player to gain an unfair advantage by falling to the ground and possibly feigning an injury, to give the impression that a foul has been committed.

Just because their has been contact, it does not mean that a foul has been committed. All too often, a player go’s to ground with minimal contact, rolls about feigning injury, exaggerating the contact, in the hope of gaining an advantage.

FIFA call this “simulation”. Just because you might have been touched, it does not give you a right to go down. If the contact was not enough to impede you, then it is not a foul. If, at the slightest brush, you then decide to go down instead of remain on your feet, you should be booked for diving.

Unfortunately, when it comes to diving, referee’s in England tend to be very inconsistent.

Against Huddersfield on Saturday, Tierney followed the rules of the game, booking Xhaka, Mustafi and Guendouzi. The problem is all too often referees wave play on.

We often see Dele Alli, Jamie Vardy, and others go down with little to no contact. The referee waves play on a we get on with the game. Against Leicester on Saturday Dele Alli feigned injury to give an impression that a foul had been committed. The referee in that game waved play on.

So Arsenal (rightly) got 3 players booked – one of which will lead to a suspension – whilst other players never get punished as referee’s wave play on.

Against Tottenham, Son Heung-min went down to win a penalty. Rob Holding lunged into a challenge, and made zero contact with the South Korean.

The media response was that due to Holding sliding in, Son had a right to go down. He did not. He cheated. He went down with no contact (or at most minimal) and rolled about feigning injury. He should have been booked. Instead the referee gave a penalty.

Mistakes happen, but what has happened since just highlights the inconsistency of the FA.

November last year, Everton’s Oumar Niasse was banned for 2 games having been deemed to have deliberately attempted to con referee Anthony Taylor to give a penalty.

The FA charged Niasse with “successful deception of a match official” and an Independent Regulatory Commission was unanimous in its decision to ban the Senegalese.

After the game, Crystal Palace’s Scott Dann (who made the challenge) said the referee had been “conned”.

 “I don’t like to see people getting punished but also I don’t like people diving to win penalties. [Niasse] probably knows he has conned them.

“If there was [contact] it was minimal. I haven’t tried to tackle him; he has gone past me and you can see on the replays he has dived. At half-time, [Taylor] probably knew he made the wrong decision.”

Replays showed that there was contact between Dann and Niasse, but it was extremely minimal. The Holding incident with Son was similar. If there was contact it was minimal.

Yet a week on from that game, Son has not been charged by the FA – let alone given a 2-game ban like Niasse. Meanwhile Arsenal have 3 players booked for similar incidents. Mustafi now suspended after reaching 5 yellow cards.

The incidents involving Xhaka and Mustafi had a similar level of “contact” as Son against us last weekend.

If the FA believe Xhaka and Mustafi were dives why have they not charged and suspended Son?

Too often they hide behind what the referee has “seen” and “not seen”. Were Xhaka and Mustafi incorreclty booked? Probably not. Should Son have been suspended for 2 games? Well the precedent is there with Niasse.

Further inconsistency was shown on Wednesday.

Marouane Fellaini pulled Guendouzi back by his hair. A similar incident happened back in 2016 when Robert Huth pulled back Fellaini by his hair. Huth was banned for 3 games.

In the incident with Guendouzi, Fellaini has escaped any retrospective action.

Now some will say you are only moaning because it is Arsenal and you are right, I am moaning because it was Arsenal. But up and down the country every weekend fans of clubs are complaining about referee decisions. We are all affected by it. The quicker VAR comes in the better.

All fans want is consistency.

Keenos