Guendouzi is the perfect answer to thick and fast

By Tony Attwood

On 5 October 2020, Arsenal announced that Matteo Guendouzi would be loaned out to Hertha BSC for the rest of the season, something I found incredibly disappointing.  And the fact that the valuation of Guendouzi has now shot up to £29m shows that the valuation many of us had of the player at the start of this season was not out of line with his abilities.

Hertha Berlin don’t have an option to buy the player, but they speak very highly of him, just as many of us did with Matteo from the moment he first turned up in a pre-season friendly.

Apparently it was what the media call “an altercation” with Neal Maupay of Brighton that led to Guendouzi immediately being excluded from the squad and from training.   And yes of course we know that such things happen and players need to be dealt with.   But in a season where we have spent more of  the season in the lower part of the table than reaching  the celebrated top four it seems a great shame that such a talent is not in our team.

And he’s not the only Arsenal player of talent who we can’t see any more because of a falling out with the manager.  A certain Mr Ozil has suffered the same fate.  Likewise there are repeated reports the David Luiz is “no longer speaking to Arteta at Arsenal”.

Now we all know that footballers can be difficult characters, often not very bright, paid vast sums of money, full of their own ego, and often self-opinionated.   All that is true, but so is the simple fact that it is the manager’s job to deal with that – without wrecking the team in the process just to “stamp his authority”.

Which raises the point, where would we have been with Guendouzi and Ozil available through this season?  Of course no one can say, but I suspect the answer is in the top four.

Now that might seem a bit wild but just consider this.

22 November: a goalless draw with Leeds.  One goal would have given us two more points.

13 December: a 0-1 home defeat to Burnley.  Their first league win against us since 1974.  Two goals of the type we would normally expect against them would have given us three more points.  I doubt they could have coped with Guendouzi, and with him keeping Burnley tangled in knots Ozil could have had all the space he needed.

16 December: a 1-1 home draw with Southampton.  OK Southampton are doing all right this season, but they actually have a worse away form than we do.  One more goal and that would be another two points.

Those minor changes in those three games would have us on 30 points and thus into fourth place today – which indeed would not get us a trophy but would bring us closer to the welcome money of a run in the Champions League next season.

Of course no one can say that we would certainly have changed those games with Guendouzi and Ozil playing, but there is a fair chance of it.

And even if not, what has been gained from the fall outs with Ozil and Guendouzi.  Have the team learned that “you don’t mess with the boss?”   Seemingly not, because now we have the David Luiz story.

I am not saying that managers should always give in to players.  Arsene Wenger clearly didn’t but he didn’t seem to have such rapid fallings out.  Yes, in the end Alexis Sanchez was dropped, but that was after he repeatedly failed to follow instructions on how and where to play on the pitch and Man U weren’t able to make much of him either.

Wojciech Szczesny’s falling out with Mr Wenger was well documented – and he has since been a regular in the Juventus side.  There were reportedly problems with Debuchy, and Ashley Cole, well that was just money which I rather think had more to do with the board than the manager.

Gallas had a falling out, but that was him criticising his own team mates in public, which no captain should ever do.    Van Persie went even further and told the manager who he should be signing and when Mr Wenger declined, VP demanded a transfer.   And as for Adebayor, well, what happened to him subsequently, especially at Tottenham made most of us happy that the we’d got the money for him when we could.

So, yes there are fallings-out, but often we can see a greedy player or one who argues that he knows better than the manager.  Maybe that is the case with Guendouzi and Ozil and David Luiz.  But three big bust ups in the space of just over a year, seems a little bit much.

Discipline is needed in football, but I am not sure it should be the cause of losing at least two great players in the course of one year, just so the manager can “stamp his authority on the team” as the media love to say.  Especially with the games coming so thick and fast, as they say.


8 Replies to “Guendouzi is the perfect answer to thick and fast”

  1. This is tripe.
    Ozil plays in the same position as Smith Rowe his doing well.
    Guendozi would be welcome but xhaka Ceballos and Elneny are playing well.

    We can also ‘if such an such a Player did/ didn’t play we’d be ytop of the league but really?

  2. Interesting points Tony and certainly things I have thought about. That said, I think some of the points lost (such as Burnley and Leeds) were more to do with the red cards, rather than personnel. I do feel that we would be stronger with Guendouzi though and as you say, the manager needs to deal with such situations more effectively and positively.

  3. An interesting hypothesis and worthy of more consideration than the childishly sarcastic and dismissive comments that it has so far induced. Honestly lads, is that all you can contribute ?

    Anyway, regarding Tony’s hypothesis, with such fine margins, it is interesting to explore what could of possibly made those crucial little differences, and what Tony suggests is a perfectly valid proposition, as is Brads proposition that the 2 red cards where pivotal.

    As I have said before, personally I was disappointed when Ozil was omitted from the squad, and given our total lack of creativity for so much of the season it is a perfectly valid conclusion to draw that his inclusion could well of improved us on that front. It’s hard to argue we could of been any worse.

    It has been pointed out above that Smith-Rowe is doing well in an Ozil like role, which he is, but he has only just made the breakthrough, so it’s not as if Ozil would of been keeping him out, as seems to of been the suggestion.

    I do believe we would of been more creative and therefore more potent as an attacking side had Ozil been included in the squad. Without being as specific as Tony, would his presence of made a 7 point difference as Tony suggested it might? I argue it is perfectly possible, because as Tony points out, those 7 points were the result of scoring a mere 4 goals more. 4 goals ! Hardly a seismic shift is it

    Whether you agree or not is up to you, but it’s a hypothesis worthy of consideration, if only to pass the time of day, if indeed you are a bit bored.

  4. What if Germany had won the war?
    They didn’t and we will never know the answer. But worth speculating about when nothing more interesting comes to mind.

  5. I would agree with Tony but only regarding Özil. There was a giant No.10-shaped role in our attack and one of the finest playmakers ever was left out of the squad because of the reasons that are highly unlikely to have anything with football.

    But that’s something we will find out one day. Or won’t.

    As for Guendouzi, I have my doubts about him. He may be settled in Bundesliga but he is still raw and his natural position in the central midfield is still unknown. Whilst his drive and energy are non-disputable, his positional awareness and decisions are not. He doesn’t have a final product to make up for those flaws and I can see why Arteta prefers Elneny – a player with a lower ceiling than Guendouzi’s but the one who is a role model professional, and Xhaka – a player who has his limits and flaws but is way more consistent than Guendouzi.

  6. Josif

    Spot on.

    We were crying out for a creative midfielder. Our chances created leading to shots on goal was pitiful. If it was footballing reasons then he really must of lost it in training because despite not being the player he was a couple of years ago, nothing I saw on the pitch suggested to me he wasn’t worth his place in the team.

    Again going back to Tony’s original thesis, would the inclusion of Ozil been the catalyst to enable us to score just 4 more goals? Personally I think it is very likely.

    As for any impact his inclusion may of had on our defence there is absolutely no statistical evidence to suggest that Ozil was a defensive liability. Every team he played in won trophies at the top level. As far as I could see he was still way more creative than anyone else at the club when the season began. Yes Smith Rowe has now emerged as a great talent but to start calling him the new De Bruyne or new Ozil is a tad premature. We can all dream but really, comparisons like that, at this stage, are not only, premature but utterly unfair on the lad.

    But back to Ozil I agree with your supposition that his omission was more political than anything else, so perhaps Arteta had no chance. We may never know.

    The bottom line is that Ozils omission from the squad may well of cost us a top 6, even top 4 finish, and the truth is it’s hard to see his inclusion could possibly of had us in any worse a situation than we were just 4 games ago.

    As for your other points RE the midfield, again as much as I like Guendouzi I agree I just cannot see his inclusion making that much difference. I think a fully functioning Xhaka is the key to our midfield functioning well.

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