Tag Archives: Matteo Guendouzi.

Teenage Arsenal star quickly becoming fans favourite

Just two games into his Arsenal career and Matteo Guendouzi is quickly establishing himself as a fan favourite.

It is easy to forget that the Frenchman only turned 19 in April, and last season was playing in the French second division.

If he was a young English lad, who had stepped up from the Championship to put in the performances he has done against Manchester City and Chelsea, the press would be going mad, saying a new star was born.

Instead (and luckily) he is French. Which means he will not be overhyped by the media too ear.y

In fact, the exact opposite has happened:

You have to question how and why Garth Crooks is still employed by the BBC, paid for by the British tax payer.

As a pundit he offers zero insight, and his “team of the week” are beyond parody.

This weeks contribution saw him pick a left back (Marcus Alonso) on the left wing, a left back (Benjamin Mendy) at centre back, and a central midfielder (Gilfi Sigurdsson) on the right wing.

I think we are safe to ignore anything that comes out of Crooks’ mouth.

Another BBC pundit, and Arsenal legend Ian Wright had a different view point

Guendouzi will make mistakes. He is certainly not the finished article, but the performances he has put in have been well beyond his age.

I saw one fan comment “it sums up how poor Arsenal are that Guendouzi has been our best central midfielder”.

Personally, I prefer to see it another way. The fact that he has been our best central midfielder shows how good he has been.

No one was complaining in 2004 when a 17-year old Cesc Fabregas was out performing Edu. It does not matter how old you are, if you are good enough; you are good enough.

What will also quickly connect him to fans is how he acts.

He was as disappointed as all of us when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed…

Guendouzi was also only one of three players to go across to the away fans and thank them for their incredible support. Only a small gesture, but will quickly get fans backing you.

He has probably already wrapped up Arsenal’s Player of the Month Award and should now start against West Ham on merit – and not because other players are not fully fit.

As long as he continues to work hard, stays fit and focused, and gets the luck every player needs, Guendouzi will develop into a top, top player.



3 Arsenal youngsters impress

It has been a solid pre-season for Arsenal so far.

Unbeaten after draws against Atletico Madrid and Chelsea, with a nice 5-1 victory over PSG the meat in the sandwich – I am not counting penalties in a glorified pre-season game as defining the winners and loses.

Arsenal players are slowly adapting to Unai Emery’s way of playing. Things do not change over night so we can not expect us to press high and man mark without making mistakes.

Remember it took 12 months and £300m+ for Pep Guardiola to build a title winning team; and Jurgen Klopp is still getting the benefit of the doubt with fans and the press saying he is still growing Liverpool in is vision.

But Arsenal are different, we seem to have a higher level of scrutiny, and even during the game against Chelsea fans were moaning. Rome was not built in a day.

I try not to read too much into pre-season. I remember a few years back. Tottenham won every single game. They ended up finishing 5th.

There are 3 things, or 3 people really, that we can get a little excited about from pre-season. Three teenagers who have looked very comfortable in the Arsenal first team.

Mattéo Guendouzi

Frenchman Mattéo Guendouzi was a £7million signing this summer.

Just 19-years old, he has been the man of pre-season, looking very comfortable in the middle of the park. He is the type of player that “Diamond Eye” Sven Mislintat was bought in to find.

Whilst I do not expect him to be parachuted into the first team, his composure and ability will put pressure on Granit Xhaka if the Swiss man struggles.

Thos in the know from France rate him highly and you have to keep reminding yourself when he plays that he is still just 19.

Emile Smith Rowe

When it was announced that Arsenal were selling Jeff Reine-Adelaide, a lot of fans kicked up a bit of fuss, feeling that the young Frenchman was never really given a chance in an Arsenal shirt.

Whilst he never did quite break through, a huge reason for his departure was the form of Emile Smith Rowe.

The Englishman is 2 and a half years younger than his former team mate and has shown in pre-season why the club is backing him over the senior man.

Smith Rowe scored an excellent goal against Atletico Madrid, showing why some fans who know their stuff have labelled him as the best home grown talent since Jack Wilshere.

Not only did Smith Rowe move ahead of Reine-Adelaide, but he also moved ahead of fellow teenager Joe Willock.

Willock is perhaps the man in pre-season to have missed out on a chance.

Whilst Smith Rowe will now move forward to training regularly with the first team, getting League Cup and Europa League starts, and getting opportunities on the bench, Willock will return to the U23 team.

That is not to write Willock off, he turns just 19 in a week or so, but he has seen both Guendouzi and Smith Rowe move ahead of him in midfield.

Smith Rowe can be very please with his last months work.

Reiss Nelson

With all the hype surrounding Smith Rowe and Guendouzi, Reiss Nelson risked joining Willock as a forgotten man. But he reminded us in the closing moments against Chelsea he showed his ability.

Nelson feels like he has been around for a while now, but he is still just 18. With Arsenal lacking natural width and pace this season, Nelson could be a game changer off the bench.

He showed against Chelsea how important it is to have someone who can get round a full back, hit the by-line and put in a quality ball.

If Arsenal end up not signing Ousmane Dembele or Leon Bailey, it will be up to Nelson to be the man who provides the width and pace.

On his pre-season showing, he might not yet be as good as the aforementioned players, but he is ready to step up.

Like last season, the Europa League could be the place to go to watch some of our talented younger players.

Guendouzi, Smith Rowe, Nelson, Ainsley Maitlan-Niles and Konstantinos Mavropanos will make up the spin of a talented young team.



Arsenal’s shift transfer policy from experience to youth

The first few signings of the Sven Mislintat & Raul Sanllehi reign drew criticism from some people.

A few moaned that the likes of Pierre-Emirck Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were not the type of players they were expecting Mislintat to sign.

Senior pros who bought with them quality and experience, the criticism Mislintat drew for recruiting them was odd, especially taking into account Aubameyang’s electric start to his Arsenal career.

As the current transfer window opened, Arsenal were heavily linked with Sokratis, another Dortmund player. Another player closer to 30 than 25. Again, some outlets criticised, claiming that the German Head of Recruitment needs to “do more than sign his former Dortmund players”.

Mislintat was criticised for showing a “lack of imagination” in the transfer market. The recruitment of Stephan Lichtsteiner on a free transfer added to the criticism. He was simply not bought in to buy a 34-year-old right back.

At Dortmund, Mislintat gained the nickname “diamond eye” due to his reputation for unearthing unheard of young talent from around the globe. From Shinji Kagawa recruited from the Japanese J League all the way through to Ousmane Dembélé from Rennes in France.

Instead of criticise, Mislintat should have actually been praised for showing flexibility.

Arsenal lacked experience and leadership at the back, Mislintat recognised this and recruited Sokratis and Lichtsteiner. He also added Bernd Leno to the squad – who despite being just 26 has played over 360 games.

Mislintat has added experience to the side, and that is something that should be praised, not criticised.

Amongst the criticism by a few, it was forgotten that we also recruited Konstantinos Mavropanos in January.

The Greek international looked quality in his first two games against Manchester United and Burnley, but was unlucky to be sent off in the last game of the season against Leicester City. Mavropanos might become a superstar, he might not, but he is an early example of that diamond eye.

After the recruitment of senior professional to add experience, leadership and top end quality to the squad, the club have now shifted the focus to signing younger, talented players. The types of signings Mislintat made his reputation on in Dortmund.

Lucas Torreira is exactly the type of player Mislintat was recruiting for Dortmund.

Whilst he has burst onto the world stage with some impressive performances for Uruguay at the World Cup, prior to the World Cup he was an unknown with just a handful of caps for his country.

Some will point to 2 excellent seasons for Sampdoria, but let’s be honest, who actually watched him play? And if you did watch Sampdoria, it is unlikely that you will have picked up on him as he is an invisible wall.

At just 22, he is young and exciting. Exactly what Mislintat’s diamond eye is trained to find.

Younger than Torreira is 19-year-old Matteo Guendouzi.

Clearly one of Mislintat’s targets this summer was to recruit young central midfielders.

With Jack Wilshere departing and Aaron Ramsey’s contract still up in the air, Mislintat and Sanllehi clearly decided to go for exciting youth, rather than lumbering experience.

The easy option would have been to go out and get Steven Nzonzi from Sevilla.The former Stoke City and Blackburn midfielder turns 30 in December.

Torreira is one for now, who has an exciting future. Guendouzi – alongside Ainsley Maitland-Niles – is certainly one for the future.

Expect the French youth international to get plenty of game time in the Europa League and League Cup. With a year’s first team experience in Ligue 1, he is ready to join up with the first team squad. As the next 12 months rolls on, he will begin to get more game time and is a potential long-term replacement for Aaron Ramsey.

The shift in Arsenal’s transfer policy from the experience leaders to younger talented stars is set to continue with the club likely to complete the signing of 16 year old striker Sam Greenwood from Sunderland.

Greenwood scored six goals and provided six assists in 15 appearances for Sunderland in the under-18 Premier League last season. And recently posted a picture on his Instagram story from outside Arsenal’s London Colney training ground.

Arsenal have reportedly beaten Manchester United and Liverpool to his signature.

Another youngster looking set to join Arsenal’s youth set up is Barcelona’s 15-year-old full back Joel Lopez.

The 15-year-old defender has been playing for Barcelona’s Cadeta A side and had the opportunity to sign a new deal with the La Liga giants this summer.

However, widespread reports suggest Lopez is set to sign schoolboy terms with Arsenal before agreeing to a professional deal when he turns 16 in March 2019 after his family had a meeting with Raul Sanllehi.

Without wishing to hype up the likes of Guendouzi, Greenwood and Lopez too much, what is exciting is that we are once more securing top young talents from throughout Europe.

In recent years we have struggled to sign the best teenagers across the continent, and have fallen behind the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea in terms of quality of graduates produced.

The fact that City were heavily linked to Guendouzi, Manchester United and Liverpool wanted Greenwod, and Liverpool and Chelsea were reportedly in for Lopez shows just how well respected Sanllehi & Mislintat are.

As the pair continue to rebuild the squad alongside Unai Emery, we will continue to see a mix of experienced professionals and talented youngsters. There is a lot to be positive about at Arsenal at the moment.