The Guendouzi Derby by Dan Smith
In what should have been just another away game for Arsenal in the Premiership, little did Matteo Guendouzi realise that he would go over a year without pulling on the red and white shirt. He most likely never will again.
After Neil Maupay had scored a Brighton winner with seconds remaining at the Amex, the Frenchman’s response was to grab his fellow countrymen by the throat.
Maybe surprisingly, the then 21-year-old escaped any FA sanctions for starting a skirmish at the final whistle.
In reality it would be his employers who handed out the biggest punishment.
By the time the Gunners had acted, no one could accuse them of lacking class or standards. One of their players had not acted in a way that represented our proud values and Arteta was not going to tolerate it.
At first, the incident was dismissed as a youngster showing his inexperience and not coping well with the strikers over celebrations.
Some gooners even defended the midfielder, proud that he had the leadership to stick up for Leno who had got stretched off earlier in the afternoon after colliding with Maupay.
At a time where our mentality was in question many in our fan base were happy that we had a player who cared so much. Shouldn’t a player be angry after a defeat?
As days passed though, we started to learn what had been said in the South Coast.
In reality Maupay had apologised as early as half time for his role in the injury to our keeper.
He had spoken to Arteta in the tunnel to send his condolences after a challenge that was clearly an accident. So, this idea that Guendouzi was over emotional out of concern for a peer’s welfare doesn’t add up.
This wasn’t Eduardo at Birmingham or Ramsey at Stoke.
Maupay had already said in his post-match interview that Arsenal had ‘spoken too much’ and lacked ‘humility’.
Then came the leaks that Guendouzi had spent the afternoon boasting to his opponents about his salary!
A source told the Sun: ‘He was saying the Brighton players were s*** and that he and his team-mates earn so much more than they ever will,’ and added ‘He’s done it in other games as well. Arsenal are a decent club and hate that sort of behaviour.’
At the final whistle, his first thought was not to boast that he played for a bigger club but to again refer to how much he earnt.
That his first inclination was to show off about his wages was a worrying insight into his personality.
Arsenal fans learnt there was truth to the rumours when the midfielder wasn’t even on the bench for the next game even when we could have 9 subs.
Our manager called the decision as, ‘squad management’ saying ‘ Whatever internal issues we have we deal with internally.’
Even then though, the thought the the player would never be in another Arsenal squad seemed far-fetched with his coach promising, ‘The door is always open, and everyone is welcome to jump on the boat.’
Our boss would say the same thing for the final 8 games of the season even banning the player from Wembley for the FA Cup Final. The club’s official stance was that due to COVID they had to limit the number of non-playing staff they could invite. It was cynical and no one will ever believe that Matt Smith being on the bench but not Guendouzi (or Ozil) was a footballing decision.
It seems that the Brighton saga was the final straw for Arteta. He had already warned the player about his behaviour during a trip to Dubai (as had Edu).
It seems that his demeanours were not the issue but his desire to not take any accountability. It’s believed If he had simply shown any remorse in disciplinary meetings, he might still be playing for us today.
When he didn’t, his manager felt he had to set an example. Seemingly very close to senior players like Auba and Laca, it’s believed many in the dressing room appreciated the hard stance shown by the manager.
If this were a movie, this would be the part where it flashes up where the key individuals are now.
Guendouzi is still officially an Arsenal player, yet you sense unless we get a new manager, he will never play for us again. He will be well aware that if his employers had their way he would have been sold by now.
Once valued at over 40 million, a combination of Covid, and clubs aware that Arsenal want him off their wage bill, has meant that clubs have been able to purchase him on loan.
He failed to change his perception in Hertha Berlin where their manager described him as ‘it’s like puberty for him, like a rebel. He has to work and learn.’
His current spell at Marseille has been a mixture of fortunes. On the pitch his form has been good enough to get him called up for his country, but in their last game he got in a row with his own team-mate.
If certain criteria are met Marseille will have an obligation to make the deal permanent (believed to be 12 million.)
Arteta is still our manager and has made a habit of washing his hands of anyone who doesn’t suit his ethos, instead of teaching them in training to be better. As a rookie coach, someone should have stepped in and said it wouldn’t be tolerated.
The Spaniard simply gave up on resources who could have been assets on the pitch. Guendouzi could still develop into a quality player, while at the very least freezing out the player reduced his value.
Maupay is still at Brighton and as their recent tweet indicates, is not shy in stirring the pot. He was winding Crystal Palace fans up on Monday, and one way or the other will be the pantomime villain on Saturday. In all seriousness he seems like a genuine nice lad who just enjoys the banter.
Take the emotion out of it, if Guendouzi was indeed boasting about his earnings, the temptation would be to have the last laugh if he scores.
Let’s be honest, a certain Thierry Henry loved an arrogant celebration and I loved him for it. It’s not arrogance if you can back it up though. Thierry Henry could, Guendouzi couldn’t.
Maybe one day he will? Just not in an Arsenal shirt…
Every time, I see this fixture I just think what could have been? What a waste…..
Be Kind in The Comments