France call-up shows Guendouzi, Arsenal’s young enforcer, is both irrepressible and irreplaceable

Arsenal

That Matteo Guendouzi has been called up to the France squad speaks volumes about the huge rate of progress he has made during his development at Arsenal. And being on international duty with some of the best players in the world will do his continuing football education no harm at all. Oh, by the way, he’s only 20. He is being tutored week in, week out in a fantastic football environment. The progress he is making under Unai Emery is clear. Tactics are one thing, though you can’t teach desire, determination and spirit. These three qualities the young French midfielder boasts in abundance.

It is rather fitting that Guendouzi got the nod to the full international set-up from France head coach Didier Deschamps a day after he was without question the Gunners’ man of the match in the 2-2 draw with north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium. Guendouzi, playing alongside Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torriera in the heart of the home side’s midfield, was simply everywhere. He was happy to break up the advancing moves of the visitors and at the same time equally at home to take the ball into enemy territory up the field to launch yet another Arsenal attack. The latter came to beautiful fruition when the mop-haired youngster drove an exquisite ball through the Tottenham ranks to find the toe of star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as he netted to take the score to 2-2.

It was as perceptive pass as you will see and it had to be arrowed with accuracy to find its target, the lethal Gabon marksman. It was a vital ball at a crucial time for the Gunners. Head coach Emery had watched on as his side had slumped to being two goals behind following Christian Eriksen’s early strike and Harry Kane — when the England striker wasn’t diving all over the place — converting a penalty kick after Xhaka had inexplicably fouled Son Heung-min in the box.

Arsenal’s other deadly attacker, the man who comes in the shape of Alex Lacazette. had got the home side back in the game just before the break and it was to prove a pivotal strike given that the Gunners eventually earned a point from a game that keen observers have since suggested that they should have won. Given the number of chances they had in the second half there aren’t many who could disagree.

That may or may not be the case; however, what can’t be denied is the influence of the irrepressible and irreplaceable Guendouzi. He now looks forward to France games versus Albania on September 7 and Andorra on September 10. Expect him to soak up all of the experience and if he gets the chance to play, watch him go.