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His first taste of Premier League management may not have gone as hoped but no-one can fault Unai Emery’s boldness.

The new Arsenal boss’ first assignment was trying to stop the team who, for much of last season, simply couldn’t be stopped. His predecessor certainly couldn’t, with the Gunners losing to Manchester City three times last year (twice in the league, once in the EFL Cup final, conceding nine times).

The convenient conclusion from Sunday; different boss, same old story. But delve a little deeper into events at the Emirates and a different narrative emerges, one that does not align with the hackneyed perception of Arsenal as perennial failures.

There were positives. Emery’s willingness to adapt and tactical versatility – Arsenal looked instantly more cohesive in attack when Alexandre Lacazette replaced Aaron Ramsey, with the Frenchman playing up top as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang shifted to the left – suggests the three-time Europa League winner may be a refreshing departure from Arsène Wenger.

But Emery didn’t wait until the second half to make his first daring move. No, the Spaniard raised a few eyebrows in starting 19-year-old central midfielder Mattéo Guendouzi alongside Granit Xhaka while leaving £26million signing Lucas Torreira on the bench.

Guendouzi impressed in the Gunners’ pre-season friendly against Chelsea but throwing him into the lion’s den against City for his Premier League debut was a courageous move on Emery’s part.

Nobody captured Guendouzi’s rapid rise more succinctly than Paris-based journalist Matt Spiro.

Matt Spiro


Matteo Guendouzi’s last competitive game was French 2nd division clash between Lorient and Valenciennes, played in front of 8,000. The 19 year old starts for today against Manchester City in front of 60,000

In just three months, the former Paris Saint-Germain youth player has gone from losing at home with Lorient in front of a modest crowd at the Stade du Moustoir to facing Sergio AgüeroRaheem Sterlingand Riyad Mahrez, three players that cost City just shy of £150million.

That would be enough to unnerve most players but there was enough evidence in Guendouzi’s display to suggest a bright future lies ahead of him in North London.

First, the bad. Raw and unpolished, Guendouzi was caught out of position at times and was guilty of not doing enough to stop Sterling’s opener.

Having already skipped past Héctor Bellerín, Sterling draws Guendouzi in before dropping his right shoulder and firing a venomous shot past Petr Čech.


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