One of the more impressive Premier League players this season and just about the only Arsenal player who’s made an impression, Matteo Guendouzi is enjoying some of his best football at the moment with Arsenal. The 20-year old French midfielder certainly has his best days still ahead of him, but already looks to be a very composed, mature midfielder at the heart of Unai Emery’s side. The Frenchman has contributed to everything good for the Gunners so far this season and has hardly put a foot wrong, helping his team limp into fourth place in the table. This is The Mastermind’s Tactical Analysis of French midfielder Matteo Guendouzi.
POSITIONING & ROLEEmbed from Getty Images
Matteo Guendouzi plays the role of the ‘number 8’ in Arsenal’s revamped midfield under Unai Emery. A box-to-box midfielder capable of picking a pass out from anywhere on the field, Guendouzi has formed a unique partnership alongside the robust, error-prone Granit Xhaka. Often times he will drop deep to pick up possession and this is sometimes coincided with a quick burst of energy up the field. The French midfielder has quickly become something of a complete midfielder – capable of carrying the ball, playing one-two’s, creating chances and even now, defending very well for his side. His role in playing out from the back has been key this season, often times dropping in to fulfill more of a ‘number 6’ role along with Xhaka as a double-pivot. Guendouzi’s close control and tidy footwork has also been of great value higher up the field, where he’s been able to dribble his way around opponents and create chances. Given that Arsenal’s other midfield options are for the most part either aging (Mesut Ozil) or full of impulsivity (Granit Xhaka), Matteo Guendouzi should have a key role to play in Unai Emery’s lineup for years to come.
DEFENSIVE AWARENESS & SCANNINGEmbed from Getty Images
The 20-year old has shown maturity beyond his years so far this season, mopping up all the messes in midfield areas and showing great positional awareness. He seems to pop up in all of the right areas – from clearing the ball out of danger when it’s crossed into the box to winning tackles at the half-way line. Averaging 2 tackles and nearly 2 interceptions per game is not a bad stat at all for a team and a player who spend most of their time keeping possession of the ball. Guendouzi has been particularly successful with his scanning of the field, having a great understanding of what is around him and where and when he needs to transition into a defensive role. His lateral shifting from left to right has almost certainly caused him to cover the most ground in Arsenal’s eleven so far this season and he is adding so much more than just a steady head in possession. Defensively, he’s been very solid and has already won many battles against top ‘number 10’s’ in the league.
At times he will make rash decisions and mistime his tackles, but he is by no means the type to dive in unnecessarily like Granit Xhaka, nor will he leave a massive gap exposed between himself and the back-four. At only 20-years old this certainly shows much promise for the years to come and with his positional sense set to improve soon he could be capable of fulfilling a deeper, ‘number 6’ / regista-esque role for Unai Emery.
POSSESSION WITH A PURPOSEEmbed from Getty Images
Guendouzi looks to go forward at every opportunity. He makes super smart decisions with the ball at his feet, and does so not only with elegance, but with energy and vibrancy too. Capable of going box to box and covering great distance, he’s been key in not slowing the game down for Arsenal, but speeding it up. For so many years Arsenal have been criticized by their fan base for keeping possession without purpose, now with a player with the productivty of Guendouzi and an attack-minded manager in Unai Emery, that no longer seems to be as big of an issue. His short passing game has been productive and efficient, but the 20-year old midfielder has been equally capable of clipping in long balls for the speedy strikers at Arsenal’s disposal. The 20-year old was instrumental with his passing and movement against their London rivals Tottenham a couple weeks back, and it’s surprising that his only assist of the season came in that game given how well he’s done for the Gunners this season.
Completing nearly 89% of his passes this season is an impressive feat, especially for a player who doesn’t love to go backwards or sideways. He’s made smart decisions about when to go forward, when to play through balls, when to clip in those long balls and when to play it safe and short. This, demonstrating tremendous reading of the game from the 20-year old. Given Arsenal’s desire to keep possession of the ball and play through the middle third, Matteo Guendouzi is able to get on the ball as much as he wants and showcase his worth for the Gunners. This has resulted in the Frenchman arguably being Emery’s most reliable player this season. Perhaps the only player who has been able to be close to as consistent for Emery’s side has been Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who floats in and out of games and although he scores goals for fun, he simply won’t ever have the same level of influence over the over-arching play of the Gunners. Matteo Guendouzi’s role for Arsenal this season has been instrumental and without him in their lineup, it’s hard to imagine they’d be where they are in the table.
CONCLUSIONEmbed from Getty Images
Arsenal have been rather lacklustre so far to start the 2019-20 Premier League season, but French midfielder Matteo Guendouzi has been anything but that. He’s been spectacular at the heart of Arsenal’s midfield and has been the beating drum for everything good the Gunners have come up with so far this season.
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