EPL

Arteta welcomes Guendouzi back into Arsenal fold for start of new season

By Sports Desk September 11, 2020

Outcast midfielder Matteo Guendouzi is back in Mikel Arteta's plans after holding "really positive conversations" with the Arsenal first-team manager ahead of the new campaign.

Guendouzi fell out of favour after Arteta's arrival in December and has not featured in the squad at all since an altercation with Neal Maupay in June's 2-1 loss to Brighton and Hove Albion.

However, he returned to first-team training this week and Arteta has opened the door for the France Under-21 international to play more of a part this coming season.

"Matteo has been training like any other player in the squad," he said at a pre-match news conference ahead of Saturday's Premier League opener against Fulham.

"Obviously it's a new season - time is over. We had some really positive conversations with both parties, and now he's back with the group and training really well. 

"He went to France to play with Under-21s last week, played well again, and now he's here."

Arsenal are in the market for a new central midfielder, with Atletico Madrid's Thomas Partey and Houssem Aouar of Lyon rumoured to be high on their wish list.

Lyon director Juninho suggested this week they rejected the chance to discuss a deal for Guendouzi, who may have been used in a player-plus-cash move for Aouar.

But Arteta, who has already added Gabriel Magalhaes and Willian to his squad during the close season, was unwilling to discuss his transfer business further.

"I don't know about this. I'm not going to discuss here things that happen internally," he said. "But a lot of things they have been writing I can say they are not true."

Probed on whether Aouar remains a target ahead of the October 5 deadline, Arteta added: "I don't want to talk about players at other football clubs."

Alexandre Lacazette is another player who has been touted as a possible makeweight in a deal for Thomas, but Arteta insisted the forward is not seeking a move away.

"He is really happy here and wants to keep contributing to the team," the Spaniard said. "He knows about the competition he has with the front players. 

"The way he has been training and conducting himself has been excellent. Yes, he is very happy here."

Related items

  • Koeman proud of Barca after 'tough' Lenglet dismissal in win at Celta Koeman proud of Barca after 'tough' Lenglet dismissal in win at Celta

    Ronald Koeman felt Clement Lenglet was unfortunate to be sent off in Barcelona's 3-0 win at Celta Vigo but was full of praise for the way his side coped with being a man down.

    Lenglet was shown a second yellow card late in the first half after referee Carlos del Cerro Grande felt the defender impeded Denis Suarez with his arm.

    Barca were one goal up at the time courtesy of Ansu Fati's strike and went on to make it two LaLiga wins out of two, Lucas Olaza scoring an own goal after brilliant work from Lionel Messi and Sergi Roberto adding a third in stoppage time.

    Koeman had sympathy for Lenglet, yet felt it was more important to discuss the character shown by the Blaugrana on a wet and windy Thursday at Balaidos.

    "You can debate whether it was a yellow or not," the Barca boss is quoted as saying by Marca. "It was a tough punishment. It's difficult being a referee. It's a decision we don't have to discuss.

    "It was more important to talk about how to play with a man down than to discuss that.

    "I'm very proud of this team in today's match. We worked very well and played with a lot of discipline in the team, with one man down.

    "We're doing a job good. These results invite us to think that we're on the right track."

    Fati looked sharp after also scoring twice in the 4-0 rout of Villarreal on Sunday, while Messi was outstanding yet again on a day which saw Barca draw Juventus in the group stage of the Champions League.

    Koeman said of the attacking duo: "They were very good, like the whole team. Leo worked a lot without the ball."

  • Arteta: Winning at Anfield another step forward for 'exceptional' Arsenal Arteta: Winning at Anfield another step forward for 'exceptional' Arsenal

    Mikel Arteta praised Arsenal's "exceptional" performance against Liverpool in their EFL Cup last-16 tie and says winning at Anfield is a big step forward for his side.

    Three days after losing 3-1 at the same venue in the Premier League, Arsenal prevailed on penalties in Thursday's match following a goalless draw after 90 minutes.

    It is the third time Arteta has got the better of Jurgen Klopp in four managerial meetings this year, two of those victories coming via a shoot-out following August's Community Shield success.

    And while acknowledging Arsenal still have a long way to go before reaching Liverpool's level, Arteta was delighted with his much-changed side's display on Merseyside.

    "I am really happy with the performance. I think the boys were exceptional. We corrected a few things from Monday and it was superb," he told Sky Sports.

    "We competed much better, the level of aggression we had, the way we pressed them really high was exceptional.

    "To come here and play with the determination and courage is a big step forward for the team. They are on the right path.

    "The gap towards Liverpool is still big. We will keep improving to try and reach their level."

    Bernd Leno was the hero for the visitors as he made seven saves in normal time and kept out penalties from Divock Origi and Harry Wilson in the subsequent shoot-out.

    Arsenal allowed Emiliano Martinez to leave for Aston Villa last month and Arteta is glad that his faith in Leno has paid off.

    "Leno was really good. When we needed him we had him," he said. "You need a top individual performance to win at Anfield and that is what we had tonight.

    "I really have belief in Bernd. I know him really well and what he can give us. We didn't want Emiliano Martinez to go but it was probably the right thing for both parties to do."

    Leno, one of three players to keep their starting spot from Arsenal's league defeat at Anfield earlier this week, is grateful to have been given the full support of his manager.

    "The club has always given me the feeling I was the number one, I am the number one and will be the number one," he said. 

    "My job is to prove it every week and I feel I have done that tonight.

    "It is not easy to come to same place with a big disappointment from Monday. We analysed the game and the manager found the right words to lift us."

    The quarter-final draw took place shortly after full-time, with Arsenal paired against holders Manchester City in the last eight.

    Arteta spent three seasons as assistant to Pep Guardiola during an unprecedented period of success for City and knows exactly what to expect in December's home tie.

    "I was waiting and enjoying the victory and then we have to play Manchester City. It is what it is," he said. 

    "There are a lot of tough teams left in the competition and we will prepare for it."

  • Mourinho makes light-hearted pledge to England boss Southgate over Kane Mourinho makes light-hearted pledge to England boss Southgate over Kane

    Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho responded to Gareth Southgate in their public jousting over Harry Kane, joking that he will not use the England captain in "one minute of any friendly match" this season. 

    England manager Southgate recently hit back at Mourinho after the Spurs head coach urged his counterpart not to overuse Kane in the upcoming international games.

    The Three Lions have three fixtures coming up in October, with a friendly against Wales taking place on October 8 before Nations League games against Belgium and Denmark.

    Spurs have had a congested start to the 2020-21 season, with their 7-2 Europa League win over Maccabi Haifa on Thursday their seventh game of the campaign already. 

    Kane plundered a hat-trick against the Israeli side to book Spurs' place in the Europa League group stages and Mourinho was not in the mood to back down on his stance of how his talismanic forward should be used on international duty.

    "His match was a fundamental match for us," he told a media conference. "A match that means a few million pounds and means that we are in a group phase of a competition that we have ambitions for. 

    "What I can promise to my friend Steve Holland [England assistant manager] and Gareth is not to be jealous. I can promise that until the end of the season I won't play Harry Kane in one minute of any friendly match."

    Spurs were electric in attack at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with a Giovani Lo Celso brace and goals from Lucas Moura and Dele Alli securing a memorable win.

    It was Netherlands international Steven Bergwijn, however, that caught Mourinho's eye with a display full of direct running and incisive passing. 

    "The team needs that, playing against a team that was pressing so high and giving space in behind," Mourinho said.

    "He was very, very important. He didn't lose the ball. He dropped, he got the ball, he beat people. He was really good. I am sorry for him that he did not score. A very good performance. 

    "Physically he is getting better, he is getting sharper. We have incredible options in the attacking positions and we are very happy."

    Mourinho faces a quick turnaround now to get his players ready for a Premier League clash with former side Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.