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Mikel Arteta suggested Matteo Guendouzi wasn’t training or behaving well enough to make the Arsenal squad on Sunday, but that doesn’t have to be a big problem.
Mikel Arteta surprised many Arsenal fans on Sunday by leaving Matteo Guendouzi out of the squad to face Newcastle United altogether.
The 20-year-old started the previous game against Burnley, so to drop out of the squad completely was a bit of a shock. Arteta explained that the reason why wasn’t to do with an injury.
“The reason is that players who, in my opinion, are training better, behaving better and are more applied to deliver on the pitch, what we want, are the players selected,” Arteta said bluntly.
According to The Telegraph, Guendouzi was involved in a heated row with Arteta and coaching staff during the training camp in Dubai. They clashed on the training pitch and the argument continued at the hotel later on.
Does this spell the end for Guendouzi?
Absolutely not. We have plenty of examples of players turning things around under Arteta already.
First, there was the Mesut Özil disciplinary issue immediately after Arteta joined. Freddie Ljungberg dropped the German for his reaction to his substitution against Manchester City, publicly calling the 31-year-old out.
Arteta didn’t deny Özil’s actions were wrong, but he gave the playmaker a second chance. The former Real Madrid man has barely missed a game under new management.
Then there was the Granit Xhaka situation. We all know how close the player came to leaving in January. He held talks with Arteta, got his head down and turned things around. Shkodran Mustafi is currently undergoing a similar revival in form.
Arteta warned Nicolas Pepe he had to train harder to get games, then praised him for “putting in the effort” this week.
Similarly, the head coach told reporters on Sunday he didn’t think Dani Ceballos was fit enough at first. But after the midfielder changed his attitude and trained harder, he got a start against Newcastle.
At this point, we have a whole list of examples of players falling out of favour with Arteta. Almost all of them reacted positively and fought their way back into the team.
That’s the key thing here, the reaction. If Özil sulked or Xhaka gave up and left or Mustafi listened to the critics or Pepe and Ceballos lost their motivation, that’s when we’d have a problem. They didn’t, so we moved on.
How does Guendouzi put things right?
Guendouzi just has to do the same thing the rest of them did. He has to get his head down and focus on training as hard as he can. Stop talking and start showing Arteta why he deserves to be in the starting lineup.
Once he does that, there’s no doubt in my mind Arteta will start picking him again. These are the kinds of challenges young players face all the time. If they respond in the right way, they come out the other side as better players. The ball is in Guendouzi’s court.