The Frenchman, hoping to cement his place under Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta having been partially marginalised before the enforced mid-season break, played 67 minutes of the Gunners’ 3-0 defeat by Manchester City.
Three days later, the 21-year-old was involved in a bust-up with Brighton & Hove Albion striker Neal Maupay at the end of Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat at the Amex Stadium.
While Guendouzi escaped punishment from the FA, he seemingly did not evade Arteta’s wrath, being dropped for all three of the Gunners’ subsequent fixtures, games they have won.
Following that omission, speculation has mounted over his future.
According to L’Equipe, Guendouzi has expressed a desire to leave the club this summer after indicating that he has regressed following Arteta’s appointment in December.
Does the player have a point? We’ve delved into the stats to find out more.
In terms of defending, Guendouzi’s output has diminished under Arteta.
According to Twenty3 data, the midfielder is now winning fewer aerial duels per 90 (1.11 compared to 1.59 before the Spaniard’s appointment) and is completing fewer ball recoveries, with that number down to 6.65 from 7.95 per 90.
One defensive area in which Guendouzi has improved, however, is interceptions with him having managed 4.8 per 90 under Arteta, up from 4.1 between August 2018 and December 2019.
Strikingly, there is an even greater statistical disparity in his passing.
Under Unai Emery and Freddie Ljungberg – whose interim spell spanned six games – Guendouzi was completing nearly twice as many forward passes per 90 (16.73) compared to his current output (7.39), while his final third passes completed has also dropped drastically, from 7.93 to 4.62.
The France under-21 international is also attempting fewer through balls under Arteta, with 0.18 per 90 a considerable stepdown from 1.47 in the previous regime.
This diminished productivity is indeed intriguing considering that Guendouzi’s role remains largely unchanged from his time under Unai Emery.
Like his predecessor, Arteta has deployed the former Lorient man as one of the two holding midfielders in a 4-2-3-1, which has seen him take up a similar base position in front of the back four.
Despite this, however, he is attempting fewer duels and what Twenty3 describe as ‘intelligent passes’. He is attempting more pressing duels per 90 under Arteta, though, having upped that metric from 2.75 to 3.51.
While he has largely retained the same responsibilities in Arsenal’s new era, Guendouzi seems to have suffered since Arteta’s arrival.
However, as a young and relatively inexperienced player, it is understandable that his confidence would have taken a hit following a spell out of the team.
Having nailed down his place in Emery’s Premier League XI, he has been forced to adjust while Arteta has experimented with different midfield pairings, which have included Granit Xhaka with Lucas Torreira as well as outings for Real Madrid loanee Dani Ceballos.
Talk of Guendouzi’s departure has certainly accelerated in the days following his exclusion from the Southampton game, but there is a possibility that by selling him, Arsenal would risk losing another developing talent as they did with Serge Gnabry, who has established himself as one of the Bundesliga’s best attackers at Bayern Munich after leaving the Gunners in 2016.
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Guendouzi has not reached Gnabry’s level quite yet, but there was enough evidence during his first 18 months in north London to predict a regular role for him in the Arsenal line-up in the years to come, especially given how he handled the considerable jump from Ligue 2 to the Premier League.
There have been calls, of course, for Arteta to use Guendouzi higher up the pitch. His ability to turn quickly and play precise, progressive passes indicates that he may better serve his team with a berth closer to the opposition’s penalty area.
Whether he is given that chance remains to be seen. After an impressive start to life in England, Guendouzi is facing a critical period in his young career. The stats appear to suggest as much.