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Matteo Guendouzi chooses highway amid Mikel Arteta fight

Matteo Guendouzi has not been a part of Arsenal’s last three matchday squads. Amid his fight with Mikel Arteta, he has chosen the highway.

Matteo Guendouzi seems to have joined Mesut Ozil in Mikel Arteta’s bad books. Ahead of Arsenal’s 4-0 victory over Norwich City on Wednesday evening, he was left out of the matchday squad for the third successive game.

Things escalated over the last 10 days. It all started with the Neal Maupey throat grab and the berating of the Brighton players, supposedly due to him earning far higher wages than they ever would.

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He was then dropped from the Southampton squad which was due to an ‘internal problem’ which was being dealt with privately by the club. This was swiftly followed by reports suggesting that Guendouzi would be open to leaving the club this summer. Suddenly, a player who was thought to be future of the midfield now seems to have a distinctively uncertain place in the squad.

Guendouzi has been massively hyped. Some would suggest that hype is undeserved. Certainly, his inconsistencies are frustrating. But he does have massive potential and that inconsistent form should slowly slip away with age, experience and maturity. Unfortunately, being a young man, he has a feisty attitude. This has gotten him on the wrong side of Arteta on more than one occasion already.

Arteta has been clear from the start on what he expects from his players and how he expects them to behave. His non-negotiables are famous and he has been more than willing to put players in their place if they are not performing and behaving as he expected.

By removing Guendouzi from the first-team set-up, it is obvious that he is not happy with the Frenchman’s attitude. We are starting to see who Arteta wants at the club, and it does not include Guendouzi. And in his post-match press conference, Arteta made it quite plain what he thinks of Guendouzi’s response. When asked if Guendouzi has shown the response he wants from being dropped from the squad, he said:

“Things have to change and nothing has changed.”

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It leaves little doubt as to where Guendouzi and Arteta currently stand.  That said, despite the current situation, Guendouzi should still be thought of as one of the players the team should build around. He has the confidence, sass, and ability to be an elite-level Premier League midfielder. Few other players in the squad boast his natural ability.

Talking trash to the Brighton players certainly backfired, but that type of player, someone who loves to wind the opposition fans and players up is something that Arsenal has missed over the years. His willingness to fight and scrap, his ambition, his fiery attitude is both his greatest asset and his greatest undoing. He must both contain it and unleash it, something that he has not yet mastered.

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But if and when he does, he will be a tremendous footballer, one that Arsenal would be wise to keep. Letting players of Guendouzi’s ability is not a bright move. But Arteta has made it clear: it is his way or the highway, and right now, Guendouzi is choosing the latter.

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