Duracell bunny Matteo Guendouzi has added much-needed steel to soft Arsenal… at long lastDecember 23, 2018
The club had just announced the arrival of Uruguayan World Cup star Lucas Torreira so few were paying much attention to an unknown kid from the French second division.
They certainly weren’t expecting the 19-year-old rookie to become one of the key players of the Unai Emery era.
Yet here we are approaching the mid-point of the campaign and no player has made more appearances for the Gunners this season than Guendouzi.
This was his 23rd game in the Arsenal engine room as Emery opted to give Torreira a well-earned rest ahead of back to back away games at Brighton and Liverpool.
Yet there was no respite for the tireless teenager whose heat map must be in danger of self-combusting.
No-one could fault the exuberance, commitment or work ethic of the curly-haired youngster who has so captured the imagination of the Arsenal supporters.
But sometimes he allows his enthusiasm gets the better of him with over-ambitious passes which fail to find their intended target.
Yet like a Duracell bunny, he usually has the legs to rectify his errors as he continues to learn his trade at the highest level.
Because he speaks little English, it is not always easy for him to pick up on Emery’s barked instructions from the sidelines.
Like a young Marcel Marceau, he largely communicates with his team-mates through the medium of mime.
But there were no words needed for his raking long pass which launched the counter-attack which eventually led to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s second goal of the afternoon.
And when struggling Burnley threatened to launch an unlikely late comeback, he was ready to put his body on the line to protect his team’s slender lead,
A painful knee in the back from Ashley Barnes left him writhing in agony and the combative Burnley striker was lucky to escape when he appeared to tread on the youngster after another foul.
Jack Cork was even more fortunate to go unpunished for a nasty challenge which caught Guendouzi on the top of his boot.
Yet even when he was laid low by yet another Chris Wood foul, he still kept coming back for more.
In the end, it was just about enough to get Arsenal back to winning ways after those successive defeats by Southampton and Spurs.
They were anything but convincing and continue to look the outsiders in the scramble for a top four finish.
But at least with the likes of Guendouzi in their line-up, no-one can accuse them of being a soft touch any more.
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