Gunner Thoughts

Matteo and Mesut: ‘I always hope that the players want to give their best”

In the lead up to Norwich, our head coach discussed returning to Emirates Stadium, Matteo Guendouzi, Mesut Ozil, William Saliba and more.
Read on for a full transcript from Arsenal:

Since Mikel Arteta took over as manager for Arsenal Football Club, it has been a whirlwind of unpredictable circumstances and challenge after challenge after challenge.

Squad chemistry, workrate, style of play, confidence, youth success, veteran success, a pandemic, Lacazette-Aubameyang compatibility, the list goes on.

Of late, two player’s absences from the line up has been noted although, one is hardly going through his first fall from grace. Mesut Ozil and Matteo Guendouzi are each the subjects of speculation, scrutiny, praise, and criticism in their own ways.

Ozil has yet to play a game of the restart after there were concerns that alluded to a lack of fitness, while Matteo Guendouzi seems to have gone through a falling out over his reaction at the end of Arsenal’s match in which he was seen forecfully grabbing Brighton forward Neal Maupay by the neck. It was an action that split fans between praising him for doing something and those that found it shallow and another example of his immaturity.

Their absence has cause people to wonder if they have a role to play in the remaining games this year. Arteta, of course, says he hopes everyone does and he hopes every player is willing to put everything into the cause. “I said that everybody that I have in the squad, my job is to get the maximum out of them and to try to help them and support them. And if they are willing, everybody is welcome…I always hope that the players want to give their best.”

It’s the right attitude you want a manager to take with players that are young. The optimistic, realism of their desire to see them all succeed, rather than looking for reasons to move them along. However, in a moment of complete transparency, Arteta commented on whether he thought Guendouzi had made the most of his opportunities with Arsenal.

“I don’t know. When Arsenal picked him to come here it’s because they could obviously see the potential and the qualities that Matteo has. He’s a really young player and he’s still in development. When you are developing, the curve is not normally so much straightforward, you have to have some bumps and you have to adapt to it. Then in the process, you have to find the things you’ve done right and the things you’ve done wrong, like any other player.”

For those interviewing Arteta, this was a nice segue into wondering if Ozil, a star veteran and the highest earner at the club, could be doing more as well.

“The players want to play as well as possible, train as well as possible and then it’s a tricky game. You have momentum, you have your team-mates to help you as well and you need confidence. It’s not just one factor but I never doubt that the players want to do their best.”

All this talk from Arteta is interesting to dissect, but in the end, his biggest vote comes from who he selects on match day. Norwich presents an opportunity to pick both Matteo and Ozil and it’s a game that Arsenal will want an energetic midfield buzzing around to gain and keep possession while having the ability to unlock a defense creatively.

On a side note, Ozil does not seem as though he would fit well in a 3-4-3, which adds an interesting conundrum into Arteta’s plans if we wants Mesut to feature.

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