You can find motivation for the beautiful game in a lot of different places, especially if you’re playing at the highest level. Sometimes it may be difficult to motivate yourself to push that extra mile, given that you’re probably earning millions and millions every single year, but a part of us likes to believe that not all footballers are so heavily focused on their finances. That may just be us being a little bit naive, and we’re prepared to admit that.
Arsenal have arrived to France where they are set to face Rennes in the first leg of the Europa League round of 16. The players who made the trip are: Petr Cech, Bernd Leno; Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi, Nacho Monreal, Sead Kolašinac, Ainsley Maitland-Niles; Lucas Torreira, Granit Xhaka, Matteo Guendouzi, Aaron Ramsey, Denis Suarez, Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan; Alex Iwobi, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Eddie Nketiah.
Joined by midfielder Matteo Guendouzi, manager Unai Emery spoke to the press, giving his thoughts ahead of the clash.
On Lacazette ban
Arsenal’s young French midfielder Matteo Guendouzi arrived in North London from French club Lorient in the summer. The youngster arrived for a modest fee of around £7million plus add-ons, which by modern standards is chicken feed.
Although apparently highly-rated in football circles, Guendouzi was not exactly a household name prior to arrival in north London. Most Arsenal fans would have been forgiven for not knowing anything about the midfielder.
Made a promising start Arsenal career
Guendouzi has certainly proven to be one of the more impressive summer recruits this season. At times, he has shown tremendous maturity on the ball, far beyond his tender 19 years.
Arsenal have beaten Burnley by 3-1 in the 18th round of the 2018/19 Premier League season, courtesy of goals from Pierre-Emerick Auubameyang (14′, 48′), and Alex Iwobi (90′). The solitary strike for the visitors was the work of Ashley Barnes (63′). The Gunners are still in fifth place, but now they’ve equaled Chelsea’s point tally as the Blues suffered defeat at home to Leicester City.
But the result aside for a moment, there were some interesting things to take from this game. Let’s take a look.
Matteo Guendouzi has revealed Paris Saint-Germain were interested in signing him prior to his arrival to the Emirates.
Guendouzi passed through the French title holders’ youth system before joining Ligue 2 side Lorient in 2015.
Speaking to French outlet Canal +, the 18-year-old confirmed a number of clubs, including PSG, were interested in his services. However, as soon as he learned of Arsenal’s involvement, his mind was made up. He knew that this was the right club for him and he focused all his attention on joining the Gunners. The club spent £7million on his signature, not a small amount given his age and the fact that he had no previous first-team experience in top-tier football.
Arsenal drew 2-2 against Manchester United on Wednesday evening at Old Trafford in the 15th round of this season’s Premier League roller coaster, adding game number 20 to their truly impressive unbeaten run. The Gunners led twice, but the home team managed to pull level both times. Shkodran Mustafi gave Arsenal the lead in the 26th minute only to have to cancelled out by Anthony Martial just four minutes later, and the hope for victory briefly reignited by Alexandre Lacazette in the 68th minute was dashed by Jesse Lingard after 60 seconds.
Matteo Guendouzi arrived to Arsenal from Lorient in this year’s summer transfer window, and the impact he’s had so far has surprised many – possibly even himself.
He was seen a talented player and a low-profile signing, and rightly so given his age and the club he came from, with all due respect to the French side. Even with Jack Wilshere out of the picture, very few people would have expect the 19-year-old to begin his Arsenal career as a regular feature in Unai Emery’s starting XI, but that’s exactly what happened.
On Thursday night, Arsenal recorded a comfortable 3-0 win over Qarabag in the Europa League. It had the potential to be a tricky game, as the team from Azerbaijan had been dangerous on home soil in the competition of late.
However, Arsenal took the three points and the game was topped by the fact that youngster Matteo Guendouzi and Emile Smith Rowe both scored their first senior goals for the team.
A good platform for the youngsters
As much as Arsenal boss Unai Emery respects the Europa League, the Spaniard will also rotate his squad in the competition. At this stage of the competition, the Gunners can get away with, as the opposition are not the strongest in the world.
I have found myself on a number of occasions talking about the make-up of the Arsenal central midfield, mainly the lack of playing minutes for summer signing Lucas Torreira. For me, the Uruguayan was the sort of central midfielder Arsenal needed in the summer.
Showed his qualities against Newcastle
Once again, on Saturday at Newcastle, Torreira found himself on the bench with Matteo Guendouzi and Granit Xhaka starting in the centre of the pitch for the Gunners.
At half time, it was obvious that young Guendouzi was not having his best game, which happens to young players developing their game.
Matteo Guendouzi, who joined Arsenal this summer from French second-tier side Lorient, has been a significant revelation so far for the Gunners under Unai Emery, earning his chance with quality displays in pre-season and helped by the departure of Jack Wilshere and Lucas Torreira taking a bit longer to adapt to football life in North London.
He took that chance in a brilliant manner with audaciously inspiring performances at the start of the Premier League season, and according to the Mirror, his form has already sparked interest for two national teams, both of which he is eligible to play for.