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Arsenal 5-1 Ipswich: Talking Points from Closed Door Friendly

Eddie Nketiah celebrates his goal against Ipswich

Nketiah celebrating a goal

Match Highlights

Arsenal XI (First Half): Bernd Leno, Hector Bellerin, Ben White, Pablo Mari, Cedric, Thomas Partey, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Sambi Lokonga, Nicolas Pepe, Eddie Nketiah, Reiss Nelson

Arsenal XI (Second Half): Arthur Okonkwo, Reuell Walters, Alex Kirk, Zach Awe, Lino Sousa, Matt Smith, Salah Oulad M’hand, Charlie Patino, Omari Hutchinson, Folarin Balogun, Marcelo Flores. Subs: Jack Henry-Francis, Mazeed Ogungbo

Following the commencement of preseason last week, Mikel Arteta chose to hand out some game time to the players that had not featured in post-season international fixtures, as the Gunners ran out as 5-1 winners against Ipswich Town in a closed door friendly at London Colney.

Here are some of the talking points from the match

Eddie Nketiah Was the Undisputed Star of the Game

Fresh off from signing a contract extension with the club and getting a new number formerly won by Thierry Henry, Theo Walcott and departed captain, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Eddie Nketiah was the star of the show, netting a hattrick and providing an assist.

While the Gunners anxiously wait the imminent announcement of Gabriel Jesus from Manchester City, Nketiah is picking up where he left off last season where he scored five goals in eight starts as the Gunners surged for a fourth placed berth before falling at the last hurdle. Nketiah is proving that with Gabriel Jesus set to be the alpha male in Arsenal’s attack, he can also be a dependable option to the team.

Game Time for Players with a Year Left, but Do They Still Have a Future at the Club?

It is well documented that Arsenal are at crossroads with some certain players that have a year left on their contract, and in such scenarios, the three plausible options are to either sell the players for a decent fee, offer the player a new contract or allow the player run down his contract and leave on a free transfer next summer. 

Bernd Leno, Hector Bellerin, Nicolas Pepe, Reiss Nelson and Ainsley Maitland-Niles are some of the notable players in the closed door friendly with Ipswich Town that are currently in the scenario stated above. Among the five players, only Bellerin has publicly declared his intentions of wanting to leave Arsenal, while Leno has been linked with moves to Benfica and Fulham.

There is still a lot of time between today and when the transfer window ends, but Arsenal will have to make clear decisions on the futures of these players.

It was Good to See Thomas Partey get Game Time

Thomas Partey grew in influence last season and became a lynchpin in Arsenal’s midfield, so his thigh injury in the business end of the campaign hurt Arsenal real bad, as there were some initial struggles and horrible results to match before Mohamed Elneny was introduced to the team and steadied the ship.

Partey successfully notched up 45 minutes in the win over Ipswich Town and will be aiming to get more game time as he builds his fitness ahead of the new campaign ahead.

Sambi Lokonga had a Great Game, but Does this Affect Arsenal’s Pursuit of Youri Tielemans?

Seems Albert Sambi Lokonga isn’t a forgotten man after all, as he put up a dominating performance in midfield, scoring one goal and providing two assists for his team. He lost his place in the side to Elneny and didn’t play for Arsenal till the final day bashing of Everton where he came on as a sub.

With the tabloids stating that Arsenal has agreed personal terms with Leicester’s Youri Tielemans, Sambi Lokonga is one player that would be adversely affected by the arrival of the Belgian maestro, due to the sheer numbers that the club would have in that playing position on the pitch.

However, the onus will be on Mikel Arteta to manage each players game time adequately, and with Arsenal involved in four competitions, as well as the five subs rule, I’m sure everyone would be covered.

The next official game for the Gunners is against FC Nuremberg this Friday, but we will keep tabs on the transfer market situation before the game.


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Matteo Guendouzi to Marseille – Wasted Untapped Potential

Arsenal agree deal with Marseille for Matteo Guendouzi | Metro News

Matteo Guendouzi at Arsenal

Matteo Guendouzi began his career in Paris St. Germain’s academy at the age of six before moving to Lorient’s academy in 2014. He featured in the Lorient II side in the lower French division before making the step up to the Lorient senior team in the Ligue Un 2016-17 campaign.

Sadly, Lorient suffered the ignominy of relegation at the end of that season, but Guendouzi continued to feature for the outfit, playing 18 games in the Ligue 2 campaign before he was snapped by Arsenal in the region of £7m plus bonuses. Arsenal head coach, Unai Emery, was full of praise for the youngster following his arrival from Lorient,

“We are delighted Matteo is joining us. He is a talented young player and a lot of clubs were interested in him. He has big potential and gained good first-team experience last season with Lorient. He wants to learn and improve and will be an important part of our first-team squad.”

Despite his tender age, Guendouzi was a mainstay in Emery’s midfield, featuring 48 times across all competitions that season, including 33 in the Premier League. Guendouzi continued to get featured for team in his second season in the Premier League, but Emery received the axe and was replaced by Mikel Arteta, and his game time became somewhat sporadic under the new gaffer. 

Guendouzi fell out of favor with Arteta following his altercation with Neal Maupay in the defeat at Brighton in June 2020. It was believed that some meetings and engagements were held with the Arsenal hierarchy following his conduct but he was left out of training and the writing was on the wall. There was also an incident in a warm weather trip to Dubai where he allegedly got into a heated bust-up with teammate, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, which led to an angry exchange between the player and the coaching staff.

At the start of the 2020-21 season, he was shipped out on loan to Hertha BSC where he notched up 24 appearances. While in Hertha, his manager, Pal Dardai, tagged him as rebellious, and confirmed that the German outfit was not going to retain his services following the completion of the loan spell. Guendouzi returned to Arsenal and was loaned to Olympique Marseille as it was evident that he no longer had a future with the club following his off the field shenanigans. 

Last season at Marseille, Guendouzi was very integral to Jorge Sampaoli, playing 56 games in all competitions, which included all 38 Ligue Un games as well as 14 games in the Europa League and UEFA Conference League, but despite featuring regularly for Marseille, he still had an incident with his teammate, Gerson, in the 3-2 defeat to RC Lens. Gerson had to restrained by his teammates, as Guendouzi scurried off the scene. 

At just 23, Guendouzi has his future ahead of him and he is a player that has so much potential. Unai Emery saw this potential and thrust him into first team action in a big club like Arsenal, but he could only have gotten better if he could match his ability on the pitch with his behavior off it. Even beyond Arsenal, Guendouzi attitude problems came to the fore in the other clubs he played with but what you would regard as a successful loan spell, Marseille activated the loan-to-buy clause on his contract, allowing him to join the French outfit on a permanent basis

If Guendouzi had a better attitude and remained at Arsenal, he clearly would have been first in line after Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka, and maybe, the club would not had secured the services of Albert Sambi Lokonga, or retained the services of Mo Elneny. 

Well, he’s gone for good, and we can only thank him for the handful of appearances he made for the club.

So much for that wasted untapped potential.


Bonus Reading: What Does the Future Fold for Forgotten Man, Albert Sambi Lokonga in 22/23

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GD Podcast S01E02 – The Curious Case of Nicolas Pepe

Arsenal: Nicolas Pepe genuinely lost his starting spot

Nicolas Pepe has lost his starting spot in the team to Bukayo Saka

Nicolas Pepe joined Arsenal from LOSC Lille Metropole for £72m in the summer of 2019 and a lot of great things were expected of him. In three seasons at the club, he has notched up 112 appearances, scoring only 27 goals.

So far, my fondest memory of Nicolas Pepe was his double freekick salvo in the Europa League against Victoria Guimaraes in October 2019, when he came on as a substitute – Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Pepe.

In this episode on the Gooner Daily Podcast, Enigma discusses about the acquisition of Arsenal’s record signing, Nicolas Pepe, his expectations of the Ivorian winger and his current struggle with the club.


Listen to today’s podcast and let’s discuss about Nicolas Pepe in the comments.

GD Podcast S01E02 – The Curious Case of Nicolas Pepe



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