What To Do With Matteo Guendouzi?

The problems with Guendouzi


This is a controversial and potentially emotional topic, so let me save you the time of reading the post if it may press your buttons with this executive summary:

I don’t think Matteo Guendouzi’s short-term future lies with the club.

I don’t necessarily insist on selling him – however we would receive a hefty sum – we might send him on loan, or try a different approach with his coaching, but currently he costs valuable points to the club competing for CL/EL place. But if you believe that the club should get rid of its ’senior’ midfielders (Xhaka, Ozil) and rebuild the engine room around Matteo, then I couldn’t disagree more.

So now it’s in the open, let me provide some reasoning.

  1. I honestly don’t think he plays any better than he did 2 years ago, when he joined from FC Lorient from a bargain €7.2M. That was really cool from a 19-year old, but it is unimpressive from a 21-year-old training with the senior national team.
  2. He doesn’t bring much to the engine of the team. No offensive contribution (0 shots, key passes, dribbles against Brighton), and no tackle but a single interception defensively. He has high scores in being fouled (2nd behind Lacazette) and bad touches (poor ball control – 2nd behind Pepe). He doesn’t have Ozil’s vision, Torreira’s terrier personality, Ceballos’ dribbling skills, Xhaka’s shooting power, key passes and tackles, Willock’s muscular figure.
  3. He is often dispossessed, and sometimes in quite dangerous areas.
  4. Even though he should be orchestrating the transition from defence to attack, he seems to have a tendency to prefer sideway passes instead of more attacking alternatives.
  5. I don’t want solely to focus on this post on Matteo’s performance against Brighton, but this player rating sums up his performance: Guendouzi  5/10 | Another below average display. Kept things simple with the ball but just doesn’t do enough and is too easily by-passed in midfield. Scuffle at the final whistle with Maupay – shame we didn’t see that kind of fight from him during the game.
    My problem is that passion and fighting spirit is not enough. They are welcome complements to superior ball control, great vision, joy to watch tackling and passing skills, but in my opinion they don’t make you a regular starter at a CL level club on average foundations.

See the source image

So far I didn’t say anything new. Let me devote the rest of the post to the last point: that Matteo is either truly ineffective or just a really bad omen on the pitch. Please take a look at this screenshot about Guendouzi’s involvement in Arsenal’s PL games:


Let me summarize with my key points:

  • Our last win when he played was our home game against Bournemouth in early October (under Unai Emery).
  • To be fair with him, we had only 5 victories in the following 22 games. But he managed to sit out 2 of them entirely, and played 20 minutes in the other 3 altogether.
  • Out of the last 5 games he started we lost 4, and managed an unwatchable 0-0 draw against Burnley.
  • From his last 11 games he started and played at least 65 minutes we won none, losing 6 and drawing 5.
  • In comparison we are unbeaten in Xhaka’s last 11 full games (won 5 and drew 6). And this is not an unfair comparison either, as Matteo indeed played against Man City, but Granit directed midfield against Man United (H) and Chelsea (A).

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have anything against the boy personally. I’m sure he is a friendly, funny lad, but keeping him on the pitch is – at the moment – way too big of a favor to the opponent. Yes, we are currently indeed short in defensive midfield, but I would rather have David Luiz playing as CDM (yes, the same one that many supporters don’t want to see ever again wearing an Arsenal shirt) then watching Guendouzi gaining experience on our ’expense’.

What do you think?

By PBarany


32 thoughts on “What To Do With Matteo Guendouzi?

  • Cheers Pb for a well constructed post. I am also not the biggest fan of Guendouzi but I think he has improved a bit this season and still has time to become a quality midfielder. He just reminds me of good footballers in my neighbourhood when I was a boy. The ones who like to dribble, hug the ball, love the ball and use lots of touches. It really surprised me how nobody of these talented dribblers made it to the local league club. Guendouzi also loves the ball, and so does Ceballos. Playing them together is asking for trouble of you ask me. Everything slows down. They are both nice to watch but they are actually quite ineffective, as per your many stats.

    Guendouzi’s DM qualities are limited but I have seen him more at the right place at the right time this season, so there is progress. He does make good interceptions at times.

    My biggest issue is that he has not gelled with his fellow players. He always seems to walk round autonomously, even though he tries hard to bond with his fellow players when we score, or when a fellow players gets fouled. But this is not actively reciprocated.

    I think sending him out on loan would be best for both parties, but keeping him another season in the squad could work too. Selling him would also work for me.

  • He’s a big time Charlie . Too slow wants far too much time on the ball . To boast how much you earn , says it all

  • I agree with you Pb.

    I had always mentioned that Douzi is the worst player, and we won without him. He only passes, left or right, and venturing forward he makes passes that were easily cut out. We have to drop him in our next match.

    I will put AMN to replace him, and put Ozil back on the starting 11.

  • Let me put it this way–leave that Moroccan midfielder alone for once!
    Sure, he hasn’t scored a Arsenal goal yet. Sure, he doesn’t assist often. But let’s all remember that he’s only 21, and he’s proving a remarkable player in midfield. His obvious passion and fighting spirit is what Arsenal need more of now. Why replace him?

  • Agree totally @PBarany!

    @njk84sg, having watched AMN umpteen times, he seems lacking in presence and agility (turns too slowly and doesn’t recover fast enough). His decision making skills is also not ready yet. CM/CDM is a critical function. Technical stability, defensive skills, presence and vision are very important. He is not able to dominate in a CM/CDM role.

    David Luiz is actually a good player; a good tackler/ hustler. Watch him — he dominates players. He just needs to be played in the right position; somewhere where his incredulous moments wouldn’t catch him out. A CDM role, where he can also slot seemlessly to a sweeper role, will strengthen the team immensely.

  • Spot on, having watched him closely and his stats he is an average footballer extremely lucky to be given game time at arsenal. I know he wouldn’t make a difference to our u21 side and yet he was tasked with playing against Gundogan, David Silva and DeBruyne! Come on Arteta, wise up! Watching him against Brighton too showed me you have to be special to hold a central midfield position at Arsenal so we can go through the lines. He can’t do it. Hence our possession stats are down.
    According to Transfermarkt he is worth over 30 million! I say sell him an invest in a more experienced midfielder who can do the job. Is David Silva leaving city this season? There are other more disciplined men available.

  • The problem with Guendouzi is that we know he can take over the midfield, as he often did when we were chasing a game in Emery’s reign. A fantastic front footed midfielder whose stand tackling is underrated, he used to demand the ball even when the team was under pressure and he often managed to run through midfield easily.

    But he really hasn’t performed to anywhere near his own standards. Seems to lack the confidence he used to have on the field and hasn’t developed defensively. Hopefully Arteta’s coaching can remedy that.

  • David_Ornstein: “I spoke to Josh Kroenke and Edu (for last week’s piece) and I can tell how impressed they’ve been with Mikel Arteta – as a person and professional. And I really think they are going to back him in a way that they should.” [the athletic] #afc

  • Lisa, I don’t intend to bring it down to quantitative statistics.
    Yes, MG has only 2 goal contributions in the PL this year, but if you have auba, Lacazette, Pepe, Martinelli, Saka and others, then the pressure on midfielders is lower. Xhaka has only one, Torreira and Ceballos have two, hell, Ozil has only 3. But the qualitative stats are alarming. 11 games without winning with Guendouzi, and 11 games without losing with Xhaka. That cannot be a coincidence. And I wasn’t unfairly comparing him to Fabregas, Vieira or any CM of cult/legend status, but his midfield pivot colleague, who – according to many self-proclaimed experts and Twitter-wiseguys – should be the first to get rid of in the summer.

    There are players who are sold too quickly (e.g. Gnabry), and there are players who are not sold fast enough. Still, I agree with TA that a year-long loan transfer could be the best solution to all parties.

    My starting line-up against Southampton with the current injuries:

    Subs: Macey, Kolasinac, AMN, Guendouzi, Willock, Saka, Martinelli, Nelson, Nketiah

    And furthermore I would like the front 4 to press the Saints like crazy, and if they get (rightfully) tired, should be substituted for a
    quartett between the 50th and 60

  • I agree with everything you say.

    I have asked many times on many blogs what it is that he does other than run around a lot and lose the ball and no one has responded.

    He was Emery’s favourite, for reasons better known to himself, but, although I only watch a few games, and that on TV, but I have never been impressed with him, other than one pass to Auba earlier on in the season that he scored from.

    Those people who repeatedly say how much of a prospect he is are simply indulging in wishful thinking, in my humble view.

    I fear that Arteta picks him because he is impressed by hard work in training, which, may be evidenced by a lot of running around.

    They may also be why Ozil is not in favour as happened under Emery and we saw what happened as a result of that.

    As far as I am concerned he was playing in the French 3rd division for very good reason.

    I suspect that AMN may have a lack of enthusiasm because he is being overlooked.

    When I have seen him play, I have been impressed, but perhaps he is not noticeable in training.

    Now that we have lost Xhaka for a few games, it is even more important to have Ozil in midfield, otherwise, who is going to make the important passes to the front players?

    By the way, Pbarany, is not Luiz suspended for the Southampton game?

  • Northampton Town and James Olayinka are going to Wembley for the League Two play-off final, after winning 3-0 over Cheltenham, 3-2 on aggregate.

    They’ll face Exeter in the final on June 29th #AFC

    Great news for the young Arsenal loanee…

  • Matt Smith is tipped for the breakthrough Total, possibly during the mountain of games w3 need to get through between now and whenever?

  • Total, what do you think of Kluivert jnr is he a player you know much about and how do you rate him? Do you think he is the type of player we need?

  • Matt Smith is unknown to me so look forward to seeing him play.

    Kluivert seems quite light weight, Kev. Nothing like his father in terms of physical presence. He also went too fast abroad to my liking and I cannot see him adding quality to our squad.

  • Hi PB, a well written piece but I personally find I it hard to talk about individual players – as I think our problem goes far deeper than one players performance.

    What I would say is that patience is required as we need to invest in our younger players especially as the current situation with covid-19 is robbing the club of funds that could be invested into the purchase of experienced players.

    We are going to have to be patient 2/3 seasons while the cash situation becomes clearer and squad development materializes.

  • Thanks for that Total, his father was top quality, it’s a pity we never managed to conclude the transfer for him that seemed to go on forever, but the son seems to be the kind of player who we already have enough of and what would his arrival do for John Jules, Balogun and the many other youngsters we have on the cusp of 1st team involvement?

    If he can come in and make a difference then fine, but if he’s going to be another Mkhitaryan then I don’t see the point other than his age and sell on value…

  • Layth
    I’m hearing Arsenal keeper Bernd Leno has not suffered ligament damage and will be out for six weeks rather than for a far longer spell as first feared

  • David Ornstein
    Exclusive: Arsenal hit by another injury blow after Gabriel Martinelli suffered knee problem in training on Mon. Completed session but reported pain after & underwent scan Tue. Awaiting results + specialist opinon amid meniscus concerns

  • You sort of feel this will continue for a while, Kev. I am just glad we have 40 points and cannot get relegated anymore……..

  • David Luiz has signed a 1 year contract at Arsenal, while both Cedric Soares and Pablo Marí have both signed 4 year deals as part of Mikel Arteta’s plans to rebuild the Arsenal defence. [
    ] #afc

  • Total/GN5, winning the FACup will be our highlight, we’re saving up all our luck for that…

    Keep the Faith

  • nae arsed??
    almost everything’s been said; the lad’s a conundrum, there’s no denying it
    he impressed me a lot when i first saw him in pre-season two years ago, but he hasn’t seemed to learn much ever since – as highlighted by pb’s stats
    i also think he should be behind joe and ainsley in the pecking order (and granit, that goes without saying)
    i very often wonder where joe would be now if he had been given matteo’s playing time, i’m afraid we don’t make the most of joe’s goalscoring talent, in particular, i keep thinking he’s aaron’s natural born successor
    the only thing that puzzles me about guendouzi is that he was teacher’s pet under emery, now mikel seems to trust him as well …
    but most of all he’s been called up by deschamps in the french national team, and if someone knows something about the midfielder job, that’s certainly deschamps
    the fact is it’s not as though deschamps was deprived of young prospects in midfield; just to name a few, you have aouar, who plays for lyon, and who’s probably the most skilful player of his generation, you have cyprien, who plays under vieira at nice, who suffered a very serious injury two years ago, but who’s more muscular than matteo, and who can score important (and very often spectacular) goals, rongier at marseille who’s the epitome of the hard-working, intelligent, reliable, but also creative engine room boss (not to mention tottenham’s ndombele, the one jose is currently bullying)
    so … i just don’t get it; deschamps surely knows more than me about football, but what we see from matteo, week in, week out, just doesn’t seem good enough to me
    is that what “nae arsed” means??
    by the way, ta, from the little I’ve seen about smith (in the youth cup, 2017-2018, i believe), he looks like a wee (is that it?) british xavi to me, no less …

  • Interesting stuff, Kevinski. It looks Mari is Arteta’s man then.

    Re faith…. I have it in Arteta but for now expectations are low. Winning the cup would be fantastic of course but quite unlikely even for the FA Cup Invincibles Team!

  • Cheers LeGallos,

    Nae arsed = not bothered/ don’t care.

    The pundits also seem to rate Guendo a lot more than the fans and Deschamps appears to be a good judge indeed. I definitely have seen him make progress and he has got presence and willingness to get stuck in. We have to remember he is still young and the role that he plays in needs a lot of maturity. It is one of the most important and hardest roles too. To get the best out of him he will need a suitable partner in midfield… and that seems to be another problem. It looks like it would be Xhaka-Guendo if both are fit to play and yet that partnership doesnt seem to get the best out of either of them.

    Matt Smith sounds like a wee beastie! That is what a few Scots also used to call our beloved four-footer, Henry when he was still amongst us..

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