Tag Archives: Matteo Guendouzi.

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.



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.