By Tai Emeka Obasi.
Mikel Arteta, Arsenal’s chief coach, is a man, who appears gifted enough and divinely favoured to be a great football manager.
It is not an easy feat to start a career as a manager with a team very clearly in disarray and steady that ship within so short a time.
When you factor in that he came to the club mid-season without the luxury of a pre-season nor the opportunity to bring onboard any player of his choice, it becomes far more advisable to appreciate this 38-year old Spaniard for his heroics.
His coming was a huge gamble but whatever convinced the Arsenal board to take such a dicey route, that decision did the widely followed club a huge favour.
Nobody gave the Gunners a chance to go all the way in the FA Cup, especially with very unfavourable draws. Besides Leeds United, Arsenal played next five matches outside their Emirates base. And only twice did they engage opponents below them in the League table.
The semi-final stage saw three other teams well above them on current form that there wasn’t much option of a favourable draw. But it couldn’t have been more difficult when Manchester City rolled out of the dice.
Despite Arsenal struggles in 2919/20, Guardiola’s team was the only side that had done a double against the London-based outfit and quite clinically, scoring six goals in total while conceding none.
Besides, since Guardiola’s coming, City have taken over possession-oriented style from Arsenal, with ruthless finishing a clear step up. Most importantly, the new Gunners coach was just coming from all his coaching tutelage under same Guardiola. Arteta and his team were very clearly the underdogs.
But Arteta’s announcement of his arrival as a manager of repute had never been more emphatic in the manner he dispatched his former boss at Wembley.
The rest, they say, is history.
Part of that history is a certain Matteo Guendouzi, the 21-year old midfielder, who reportedly has as much trouble in temperament as he has in terms of footballing potential.
However, most of us see just the potential, especially when watching from screens thousands of kilometres away.
I like the French U-21 captain. He is a tireless workaholic who defies his age whenever he steps out in Arsenal colours. While the Gunners were stuttering, Guendouzi stood out as one of the few that still had fight left in him. Ever wanting the ball, carrying it forward and never afraid to get stuck in, the 21-year old won many admirers. But this lad reportedly has disciplinary issues, which indeed is a pity.
I love people with firm principles and Arteta strikes me as one. He doesn’t come across as one who could tolerate indiscipline from any player. I hate any form of stubbornness too but my little experience with players tells me no footballer is truly a gentleman.
If Patrick Vieira wasn’t stubborn, he certainly wouldn’t have stood up to Roy Keane and his Manchester United army. And we all enjoyed it.
Is there any way that Arteta could sit Guendouzi down, talk to him like a father and bring him up like a son? I believe the boy must have learnt his lessons by now, unless he’s truly possessed.
Guendouzi is in a mould of a captain, who would lead from the front. Such fighters are needed in teams. I believe this young prodigy, if he was allowed to stay, would be a very vital player in Arsenal in no distant future.
If reports are to be believed, Arsenal are trying to ship this boy out on the cheap. Reportedly, all Arsenal swap bids include the Frenchman. At his age and evident potentials, the boy should fetch something in the neighbourhood of £40 million if Arteta forgives and harnesses him for one more season before selling, if he must. I noticed that every player, from Emiliano Martinez to Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang, significantly improved under Arteta and our enfant terrible wouldn’t really be an exception.
He’s still regarded as U-21 and can be registered without tipping squad regulations. With four trophies to play for, Guendouzi will immensely add depth to the squad, especially in midfield where only Granit Xhaka presently has the appropriate steel to withstand physical side of the game. If Thomas Partey arrives (I’mhoping daily that he does), Guendouzi would learn a lot from the Ghanaian. Guendouzi, with Joe Willock, should really take charge of the defensive midfield steel in the early Europa and other cups outings.
Can somebody please talk to Arteta?
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