Opinion: Matteo Guendouzi will make a name for himself
Co-Expert of Pain in the Arsenal, Andrew Dowdeswell provides an in-depth look at Matteo's impact during the Chelsea clash
"It was an entertaining 1-1 draw with plenty of talking points for both sides, both positive and negative. And there was one player who was integral to it all, one player who has been the best player in the squad all preseason, a name that no one recognised just two or three weeks ago, a name that is quickly becoming one of the hottest young talents in the Premier League. I am, of course, referring to Matteo Guendouzi.
"The 19-year-old is one of only four players to start every International Champions Cup match — the others being Shkodran Mustafi, Sead Kolasinac and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang –, he played the full 90 minutes against Chelsea, and only Kolasinac has featured in more minutes than him in the whole of the pre-season tour of Singapore and now Dublin. And no player has been better than him.
"Playing at the base of the midfield, what has been most noticeable about his game is his passing. Not only is he extremely gifted in his distribution, playing accurate passes short and long, spraying the ball all around the pitch, moving the play into more advanced areas, rather than playing conservatively and inviting pressure, but he is confident enough and brave enough to accept the responsibility of dictating the tempo of the game from the midfield.
"Remember, this is a 19-year-old who has only made a handful of appearances for Ligue 2 side Lorient and has now made just three appearances for Arsenal, none of which are in competitive matches. He should be happy to simply be a solid, reliable contributor, not the beating heart of the team. And yet, here we are.
"He has also improved throughout the summer. His performance against Chelsea was the best of all his performances. He was at his busiest, his most influential, in and out of possession, and he led the team brilliantly in the second half as he and his teammates wrestled control of the match away from their London rivals.
"Whether these positive displays lead to playing time in the regular season remains to be seen. Neither Granit Xhaka nor Lucas Torreira has played a minute of football yet, two presumed starters in the midfield. But Guendouzi is making his name known, and, for now, that is all he can do."
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