Tag Archives: Brighton

Guendouzi – Stick or Twist?

Arsenal’s squad in terms of youthful talent pushing through is in rude health.

Some of the starlets in our ranks are among the brightest we have seen at the club for some time. The likes of Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith-Rowe represent a hopeful future for Arsenal that we can thrive when these kids really start to bloom.

Matteo Guendouzi could be mentioned among these names. The young Frenchman is very highly rated at the club and beyond, but it seems that he is missing one vital ingredient in order to rise above the average and really strike it at the top.

That is humility.

Guendouzi, as I write, is currently training alone after his spat with Neil Maupay of Brighton. His comments toward the Gulls striker revolved around money and how Brighton’s number nine would never be able to earn what Matteo is currently on at Arsenal.

It indicates two things. One, that Guendouzi is prioritising the wrong thing and two? He really needs to put the effort he uses to annoy opponents into his football.

Since then, we have seen stories, or ‘leaks’ circulating around Guendouzi’s attitude at former clubs and of an apparent bust-up with Sokratis at our Dubai training camp earlier this year.

Now we may or may not ever know the truth about his run-in with our Greek defender, but his behaviour at his former club Lorient is a very good gauge of who the boy is behind the player as it is verified information.

His former manager at Lorient, Bernard Casoni, spoke to the media this week and had this to say:

Guendouzi’s problem is not physical and is not technical. It’s his attitude, it’s not good for the team or the coach. My relationship with him was not very good.”

“I chose him for a cup match against Nice but he was booked very early. The referee told me at half-time to warn Guendouzi: one more fault and off we go, but in the second half nothing changed. I had no choice but to master it. When I did, he refused to shake my hand.”

Most tellingly, Casoni finished with this, “He took his job seriously, his training was no problem and his character is to always want to win.

“Sometimes when he talks it’s good. But sometimes he speaks badly. He talks too much.

“His talent is not in question, this is not the problem. He can be a top player and I think he can still be successful abroad. It is up to him to change his attitude.”

Guendouzi featured heavily under Unai Emery, playing 33 times in our PL campaign alone. This season though, has been a stop-start campaign for Matteo, and early under Arteta, Guendouzi found squeezing his way into the team a tough ask.

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The balance of Xhaka and Ceballos has no doubt not helped Guendouzi’s quest for minutes, but it seems that Arteta is not keen on the Frenchman staying at the club. Perhaps one bad apple does spoil the bunch? Just imagine being in that situation – training with a bunch of teammates daily, but one of them is difficult? It would sour the ambience at the training ground to a degree.

But it is undeniable that Guendouzi is talented. He would have no shortage of interested parties should he decide that the going is better on other shores.

How do we avoid another Gnabry situation?

Now there are many facets that aren’t similar – Gnabry’s attitude wasn’t abrasive and he couldn’t get enough gametime from the start. But we have let plenty of young players go, only for them to immediately show us what we are missing.

There is a definite chance of this happening with Guendouzi.

The problem is that if he does stay at Arsenal, how does Arteta get him to tow the line like his other players? Currently, putting him out to train alone is not exactly fertilising positivity. So if Matteo flouts the rules again, how should Arteta react?

Alternatively, if he did it again, would that indicate that Guendouzi is simply a renegade who isn’t interested in harmony and mutual respect?

It’s clear that Guendouzi isn’t the finished article – his positioning smacks of inexperience and he far too often fails to track his man, but we have all seen that he could be a huge player for us.

Or for another club. At this moment in time, it looks likely that our crop of promising youth players will shoulder the responsibility of Arsenal’s immediate future without the help of the crazy-haired Guendouzi.

 

 

 

Brighton Vs Arsenal Premier League Match Preview

After the debacle at home versus Ostersunds, the Carabao Cup catastrophe and our home smashing against City, we now travel outside the M25 to take on Chris Hughton’s Brighton and Hove Albion.

Arsenal have had a horror show recently, and so optimism is thin on the ground right now. The prospect of an away trip, with our quite atrocious record on our travels, and a tie against AC Milan just days away, isn’t exactly filling us with good thoughts.

Arsene Wenger seems to have run out of ideas, but if he did fall on his sword, he has the opportunity to do so by winning Arsenal’s first European trophy since 1994. Before that though, he has to get his team winning again.

The above may be wishful thinking, but being a supporter means holding out for hope, and while we’re still in the hunt, we’ve got a chance. We’ve done our best to extinguish any opportunities that have come our way, but the first step is always the hardest – and that is our trip to the Amex.

The Gulls have only lost at home three times this season, and the winners were the likes of Chelsea, City and Liverpool. for us to become the fourth would require a complete u-turn of recent displays.

We can start in our defence. City ran our men ragged at the back. Bellerin couldn’t cope with Sane, Koscielny got nowhere near Aguero and Mustafi looks a shadow of the man who cost £35m. Koscielny could be rested for Thursday, with Chambers or Holding coming in. Nacho Monreal too, could be rested. They’ll have to cope with a different threat in the form of Pascal Gross and Glenn Murray.

Gross is creative as well as a threat in the box, and isn’t far away from the best playmakers in the league with his number of chances created. Glenn Murray already has ten goals this season, and the two seem the perfect blend. Throw into the mix Jose Izquierdo and Brighton have enough about them to get the points they need to pull away from the relegation trapdoor.

Our midfield could lend a hand, but Granit Xhaka is far from a conventional DM, and thus, is leaving gaping holes in the centre of the park for opponents to exploit – which they are. With the attack-minded Aaron Ramsey as his partner, it means our engine room is non-existent. Our boys at the back could really do with a hand, so using Mohamed Elneny as an extra pair of hands could do the trick.

Our attack will most likely be unchanged, save for Danny Welbeck being rested for Milan. That would mean Alex Iwobi coming in for the England man. Jack Wilshere is back training and fully fit, so could either earn an instant recall for this game, or be saved for the AC Milan test.

Could the game versus Milan mean more changes? This is where it gets even more tricky. Do we rest top players so they’re fit and firing for the Europa League – our last hope of salvaging a god-awful season?

That is what Wenger is paid for – to make those decisions. There will be repercussions regardless of what decision he makes – rest players and our Premier League woes are exacerbated – but play them and our European and last trophy hope teeters even more than it is right now.

Brighton will be a toughie, and with their Premier League stay for next season far from booked, they will be fighting for every ball. We need to fight harder, that’s the only way we’ll restore confidence.

Damn, we miss Santi.

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Chambers, Kolasinac, Elneny, Wilshere, Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Iwobi, Aubameyang

Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal.

Arsenal Vs Brighton – Premiership Preview

Kickoff – Sunday, 1200 GMT. The Emirates.

The recovery seems very much in motion in recent weeks.

Five wins and one draw against Chelsea sees us climbing the League, topping our Europa League group and restoring some confidence in our men and in the stands to some degree.

Three clean sheets on the trot has also allowed us to maintain a solid foundation on the pitch. There have been some shaky moments of course, but that only serves to underline our defensive stats. No goals conceded in three games means that Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal are forging a strong triumvirate.

The trio have faced stronger attacks in the past, but the beauty of the Premiership is that no matter the position of the opposition in the league, they can still steal away points. This is very much the case with the visiting Brighton side.

Bereft of their striking options, they may well be forced to play a winger as a striker but don’t let that fool you. We as Gooners are more than aware that it doesn’t matter if our foes are playing with a lonely gibbon up front, they could still catch us cold. 

Chris Hughton will have his side working hard in midfield and he will pack the final third and attempt to play on the break and earn a few set-plays. We have succumbed to this tactic before, but the Gulls have shown they can be teak-tough to break down.

Manchester City rocked up to the Amex recently and it took them an hour to finally break the resistance of Hughton’s team, finally winning 2-0. We will have to be patient and continue to play our game, and we can at least feel safe in the knowledge our defence has been equally as tough or more so recently.

With our rivals all winning regularly, we cannot allow our slow start to be an albatross around our necks, stretching the gap into a yawning chasm before we even hit the halfway mark of the season. Win, and then win some more is what is needed, and our squad is more than capable of this after seemingly overcoming the curse of the Europa League.

The fixture scheduling for competing teams in the Europa League has often been the death knell for sides in the Premiership. Everton, tottenham, Southampton and others have felt the pinch when playing on Thursday and then the weekend. Our squad size is large enough to cope though, and the fringe players have been excellent on Thursdays thus far. 

This leaves our supposed first-team refreshed enough to leave it all on the field each matchday in the Premiership. Arsene Wenger will undoubtedly make changes for this game, but there are a few conundrums to sort out.

Last weeks win over West Brom saw Aaron Ramsey pushed forward into the front three, with Mohamed Elneny partnering Granit Xhaka in the centre. After the Egyptian then played in Thursday’s win over BATE Borisov, will our manager continue with the Welshman in attack, or will he rest Elneny and revert back to the Ramsey/Xhaka duo?

Also, Mesut Ozil is fit and ready, but does he come back into the side? If not, then Alexandre Lacazette and Alexis Sanchez may be partnered with Alex Iwobi instead. Ozil should come back in, but a winning side shouldn’t be tinkered with too much.

Our team other than these two points of thought pretty much pick itself. There are no new injury concerns, the good news that Santi will be back in January is a huge boost, and our team is looking in great nick for the rest of the season.

We will look to Lacazette for goals most likely. His four goals have all come at home so far and the Frenchman is acclimatising well to the demands of our domestic league. Brighton may be tough to break down, but will they be able to keep quiet our crafty striker? Laca to score for me I think. 

Positives are important, they must be grasped when times are tough. Our next few fixtures are against teams we should be looking to beat, and this is the time to build more confidence, more momentum to carry into the games against rhe big guns.

The bottom line though, is that we are at home again, against a promoted side and we have a nearly fully-fit squad. No excuses. 

Let’s just enjoy the game, we have two weeks of international football coming up, so savour every minute.

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Bellerin, Xhaka, Ramsey, Kolasinac, Ozil, Sanchez, Lacazette

Predicted Scoreline – screw it. 3-0 to The Arsenal 

Chuba Akpom’s Time to Shine

Originally posted on Goonersphere

Arsenal have a raft of youngsters waiting for their opportunity to shine on the biggest of stages. 

They have fought through every tier of the Arsenal pagoda, until they stand on the precipice of the very zenith. This is where the majority of these starry-eyed kids stumble.

The numerous youth teams act as a conveyor belt of sorts, pushing each product closer and closer to the point where they are quality tested and judged whether they can be added to the Arsenal first team. Chuba Akpom has been standing on the threshold for some time now – and the latest development will see whether he is Arsenal material or destined to carry on his career elsewhere.

Despite being part of the first team squad this season, Chuba has played a miniscule amount of football. The logical conclusion was to send Akpom on loan again, and it has seen Chuba arrive at Brighton and Hove Albion for the rest of the season.

The Seagulls are flying high in the Championship and pushing hard for an automatic promotion slot to the Premier League. Akpom’s arrival will give Gulls Boss Chris Hughton another option in attack to supplement the efficient Glenn Murray. 

Akpom is a deft hand in this Division. He has had extensive loan spells in recent years at Hull City and Nottingham Forest, both of which were perceived as successful for the players development and also for the team as they benefitted from Akpom’s pace and goals.

He should get enough game time to make his presence felt at the club – and also to alert Arsene Wenger that he is ready for a bigger role at Arsenal. In reality though, what does Chuba have to do to force himself into the Gunners ranks?

At this moment in time, Arsenal have Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud, Danny Welbeck and Lucas Perez vying for a striking spot. This means that Akpom would have to oust at least two of these established international strikers to gain a prominent position. 

It also means Chuba needs results in order to complete his forst objective, which is to grab attention. He needs goals, and plenty of them. His talent has never been in question, but in the face of such tall odds – is Akpom’s target to gain a higher profile transfer in the summer?

With so many striking options at Arsenal, it seems highly unlikely that the 21 year old is going to get that first team spot he covets. This does not mean his loan spell is futile though. It actually places more pressure on the spell on the South Coast.

If he impresses as he has done in his previous sojourns from Arsenal, then his agent will be able to hawk him around to ambitious teams looking to add some genuine fire to their squad. Akpom would be able to grab a move to a Premier League side, if he achieves good things with Brighton.

This loan spell could actually set out his career path for the next few seasons. If he impresses, it means he gets that shot at the big time – either with Arsenal or with another top-flight team. If he flatters to deceive, it could put him lower in the pecking order at Arsenal, and if he seeks a move, it will see lesser lights seeking his signature.

That conveyor belt at London Colney I talked of earlier? It means that if there is not progression, it sees the players behind you pushing you off the belt. There is a perpetual queue of youth products waiting to take that test that Chuba Akpom now has to take.

Kelechi Nwakali, Takuma Asano, Jon Toral and Daniel Crowley are all currently on loan at top flight teams around Europe. They will gladly take the ball that is potentially dropped by Akpom, should he fluff his lines at Brighton.

The pressure on these young men is immense, but the reward dwarves this weight on their shoulders. 

Can Chuba Akpom deliver? We will all watch his every move.

A Mammoth Task – A Worthy Cause. The Willow Foundation.

There always seems to be a charity that are vying for your hard earned readies. Whether it is the latest natural disaster to strike our planet, or a televised night in which celebrities gamely fool around in order to drum up funds from the gracious viewers.

This raft of organisations donating time and money to various causes all have the same thing in common – They all deserve the aid.

Being a football supporter these days means that you see your club involved with some fantastic fundraising schemes. Only recently, Arsenal donated a days wages to the Arsenal Foundation.  This Foundation in turn does work and donates funds to their charity partners, which are Save The Children, and the Willow Foundation.

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