Could Matteo Guendouzi Help Solve Arsenal’s Defensive Crisis?

Arsenal’s injury list is fairly building up, with key defensive personnel currently missing as the festive period approaches.

In recent weeks, Unai Emery has decided to play with a back three to a degree of success as the Gunners managed to keep their unbeaten run going.

Shkodran Mustafi and Rob Holding were a big part in that tactic being a success alongside Greek internationalist Sokratis.

Unfortunately for Gunners coach Emery, both Holding and Mustafi have now picked up knocks.

Holding has an ACL injury and that could keep him out for at least six months according to Unai (via The Physio Room):

“He will undergo surgery to repair this in the coming days. The rehab process is expected to take between six to nine months.”

While German centre-back Shkordan has an issue with his hamstring and he may miss some game time but that’s not been confirmed.

Young central defender Konstantinos Mavropanos could’ve been called into action but unfortunately the twenty year old’s still nursing a groin injury and hasn’t returned to full training, as of yet.

Better news comes in the form of club captain Laurent Koscielny. The Frenchman has been out for the past seven months due to a serious achilles injury but he’s back in training and featured for the reserve side.

Gunners goalkeeper Bernd Leno told The Independent that it was great having the captain back in the fold:

“He is the perfect captain for us. In training, you see how he is talking to other players. We have many young players and he talks to them, and for me he is a big personality in the team, in the dressing room.”

The only issue regarding Koscielny would be his lack match sharpness.

It would be ideal to play him in Thursday’s Europa League tie but I doubt he’d then be fit enough to then face Southampton in the Premier League three days later. Arsenal have two games a week for all of December and that fixture list pile up won’t suit the thirty-three year old captain.

Now Emery deployed veteran defender Stephan Lichtsteiner in Arsenal’s recent win over Huddersfield Town. The Swiss star is capable of filling in but he too is ageing and might struggle with the demands that Christmas in England brings.

Personally, I’d like to see young new summer recruit Matteo Guendouzi given a chance to shine in the central defensive position.

The nineteen year old has shown that he’s got the guts to play in the English top flight and that he doesn’t go missing in games.

We know that Emery likes to play from the back and Matteo could be used as a ball playing centre-half. At 88.6%, his passing success rate is the third best at the club this season. (Stats provided by Whoscored)

Defensively, the youngster has helped his team’s cause by making around two tackles per league appearance. He’s also the club’s third most efficient player, when it comes to making interceptions.

Being young, Matteo will be eager to impress and will have an experienced head like Sokratis playing in alongside him and that could really speed up his defensive development. You’d also have Laurent Koscielny and Lichtsteiner helping from the sidelines, on the training pitch or in battleground alongside him too.

While Guendozi doesn’t have the best record in the air, he stands at just over six feet tall and he could improve on his heading stats by having a spell in the backline.

I honestly think Matteo Guendouzi could really help his team out this December, if he’s asked to play in a back three. The youngster is energetic, passionate, good on the ball and intelligent. Those attributes good see him doing well in an Emery defensive line.


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