Matteo Guendouzi was flying high for Arsenal under Unai Emery, but phase two of his development begins in earnest now that Lucas Torreira is hurt.
Depending on what source you consult, Matteo Guendouzi may well be the most valuable player that Arsenal have. He has shown incredibly improvement in the short time he’s been here and he may become one of the most highly regarded midfielders by the time he turns 21.
It’s been a remarkable ascent, and we should be thrilled over the future of this young man. But first, he has to get past phase two of his burgeoning young career. That phase being the first managerial change.
Guendouzi was a darling in Emery’s regime, but Arteta has yet to follow the same route. The new manager has been using Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira as his preferred midfield duo, leaving Guendouzi to fill in when necessary, but the young Frenchman’s form has slackened as of late too. There’s no hiding from that.
Against Crystal Palace, Lucas Torreira went down with an injury and while the extent of that injury is not yet known, Guendouzi will likely get his chance to slot in next to Xhaka.
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It’s been proven that this partnership doesn’t really work. And Xhaka isn’t suddenly going to become a defensive stalwart. He’s going to do his part, but little more. Which means that Guendouzi is going to have to do the defensive duties.
I know, Guendouzi is just as much a defensive midfielder as Xhaka. But that’s where we are right now. Guendouzi has far more athleticism and a lot of players are doing more than their jobs under Emery necessitated. Aubameyang is defending, for instance.
Guendouzi has to do his part to fill the gap. You want the best way to impress Arteta into giving him more starts? That’s it. Get in there, do a job for the team, and grow as a player. That’s the thing too—do the defensive duties now and you get better in the process.
As it stands, Guendouzi is the most dribbled around regular in the first team. More than Xhaka, more than even Ozil and Aubameyang and Lacazette. More than everyone. He gets dribbled around more than anyone else. It’s time to turn that around. If David Luiz and Sokratis can turn things around, Guendouzi can too.
It’s been awhile since we’ve seen him back at his best, but I think it’s safe to say we’re all ready for it again.