Jump directly to the content

News Corp is a network of leading companies in the worlds of diversified media, news, education, and information services.

DREAM TEAM

Your Sun

A News UK Company
TOP
Déjà vu

Matteo Guendouzi’s confidence has teleported me back to watching a young Cesc Fabregas at Highbury

His journey from unknown quantity to Arsenal regular has been nothing short of effortless

Very few young Arsenal midfielders convinced me immediately.

I saw through the facade of Denilson, navigated the intrigue around Fran Merida and laughed off the shambolic Emmanuel Frimpong.

Not since Cesc Fabregas’ emergence as a first-team regular have I been this impressed with a young player as I have been with Matteo Guendouzi.


SIGN UP – WIN £5k EVERY WEEKEND BY PLAYING DREAM TEAM WEEKENDER


The man, the myth, the legend

10
The man, the myth, the legend

I’ve sat in the North Bank at the Emirates for much of this season and witnessed first-hand the 19-year-old’s effortless transition from unknown quantity to Gunners stalwart in a mere matter of months, an almost identical feat to the one achieved by Fabregas in his Arsenal infancy.

It was the Spaniard’s unwavering confidence that stood out to me more than anything during his Highbury days.

And watching Guendouzi this season is giving me all sorts of nostalgic flashbacks.

When Fabregas had Marcos Senna in his back pocket before he’d even started shaving

10
When Fabregas had Marcos Senna in his back pocket before he’d even started shaving

Don’t misinterpret my words though.

Guendouzi might be immensely talented but by no means am I saying the Frenchman is the second incarnation of Fabregas in terms of his technical ability or playing style.

However, there are definitely similarities between the pair that fill me with confidence that the future of Arsenal’s midfield is in safe hands.

A majestic specimen on the ball

10
A majestic specimen on the ball

I’ve been convinced ever since I set my alarm to catch a glimpse of the mysterious prospect on Arsenal’s pre-season tour of Singapore.

The Frenchman’s performance against Chelsea in the Gunners’ penultimate pre-season outing mesmerised myself, other Gooners, and Unai Emery too.

The gaffer threw the youngster in at the deep end for his Premier League debut a week later.

Mixing it with the big boys

10
Mixing it with the big boys

The Frenchman had a baptism of fire against the champions Man City, which signalled a remarkable rise to stardom for Guendouzi.

Just a few months prior, he cut his teeth in a Lorient side that finished 7th in Ligue 2.

All of a sudden he was tasked with marking Kevin De Bruyne — talk about a step up.

You could easily be forgiven for overlooking his humble beginnings as, after all, the midfielder possesses an unrivalled level of confidence that could fool you into believing he’s been with the Gunners for years.

Because not being able to levitate is for chumps

10
Because not being able to levitate is for chumps

It’s a confidence that many young players struggle to muster, a confidence Dimitar Berbatov described as “unbelievable”, before adding that it “p*sses me off.”

Perhaps most satisfying of all is how Guendouzi, similarly to Fabregas during his Arsenal days, has become public enemy No.1 for rival fans.

The infamous ‘Battle of the Buffet’

10
The infamous ‘Battle of the Buffet’

When not throwing pizza in the direction of Man United’s most successful manager, the Spaniard’s swagger and arrogance at such a young age would often send opposition supporters into meltdown.

It’s pleasing to see Guendouzi follow in the footsteps of his Spanish predecessor, as one thing Arsenal have lacked in recent years is sh*thouse players, those players who other teams and their fans just love to hate.

Marouane Fellaini of all people has hair envy

10
Marouane Fellaini of all people has hair envy

The numbers behind Guendouzi’s debut season make for impressive reading when you consider he’s already just two appearances shy of matching his career total before his summer move.

A modest one goal and two assists in 28 appearances has been matched with a respectable passing accuracy of over 88% across all competitions for the Gunners.

Seven yellows and one red card is also a very satisfying sh*thouse return

David Klein
10
Seven yellows and one red card is also a very satisfying sh*thouse return

One noticeable difference between the debut seasons of Guendouzi and Fabregas is the quality of team-mate the latter was afforded.

A fresh-faced Cesc had midfield juggernauts and respective World Cup winners Patrick Vieira and Gilberto Silva to draw wisdom from in his formative years.

Imagine getting to train with this guy every day

PA:Press Association
10
Imagine getting to train with this guy every day

In stark contrast to this, Guendouzi’s Arsenal baby steps have seen him paired alongside Granit Xhaka and fellow Premier League newbie Lucas Torreira.

“BuT iT’s JuSt HiS hAiR !1!1!” is exactly what the non-believers love to preach about Guendouzi.

If Football Twitter was a thing when Fabregas was breaking through can you imagine how much of his adulation they would attribute to his mullet?

“Business at the front, party at the back”

10
“Business at the front, party at the back”

The highlight of Guendouzi’s Arsenal career so far…


READ MORE ARSENAL FEATURES FROM DREAM TEAM: