Matteo Guendouzi was called into France’s senior squad for the first time in September (Picture: Getty)In fact, quite the opposite has been true. Guendouzi started Emery’s very first game against Manchester City and has amassed 54 appearances already for Arsenal, featuring in 81% of the team’s 66 games under the Spaniard. Only Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with 58 matches has played more times than the young midfielder.This season, his importance to the side has increased further, evidenced by his six Premier League starts and Emery’s decision to rest him during the Europa League opener against Eintracht Frankfurt last week and the Carabao Cup clash with Nottingham Forest on Tuesday.It is becoming increasingly clear that Guendouzi is Arsenal’s prized asset amongst a well-stocked stable of central midfielders.Increased influenceIt has been a chaotic start to the season for Arsenal. After six games they have won three, drawn two and lost one of their matches, scoring 11 goals and conceding 10 along the way.On average, Arsenal have faced over 18 shots per game in the Premier League while attempting just over 14 themselves. Watching Arsenal at the moment is a rather disorientating experience, their matches resembling end-to-end encounters more usually found on a basketball court than a football pitch.Amid that frenetic chaos, though, Guendouzi has flourished. In each of Arsenal’s previous three league matches against Spurs, Watford and Aston Villa, the second halves have offered ridiculous, edge of the seat entertainment and in two of them Guendouzi has been the chief protagonist of the mayhem. Guendouzi will come up directly against his French compatriot Paul Pogba at Old Trafford (Picture: Getty)For Guendouzi, trying to reach Pogba’s level should be the ultimate goal. Like Pogba he passes, tackles, covers ground and is useful in transition phases but he is yet to hone his attacking game just yet, despite visible improvements in that regard this season.AdvertisementWith Pogba returning to fitness, Deschamps may well take a keen interest in Manchester United’s clash against Arsenal at Old Trafford when the seasoned veteran takes on the young pretender in what promises to be an absorbing battle in midfield.That Guendouzi is fast-becoming Arsenal’s go-to midfielder in the big games at the age of 20 shows not only how far he has come already, but how much further he can still go.More: Manchester United FCRio Ferdinand urges Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to drop Manchester United starNew Manchester United signing Facundo Pellistri responds to Edinson Cavani praiseEx-Man Utd coach blasts Ed Woodward for two key transfer errors Advertisement Oliver Young-MylesMonday 30 Sep 2019 7:01 amShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link3.4kShares The French youngster has been a driving force in Arsenal’s midfield this season (Picture: Getty)‘In my mind, I was like, at first I couldn’t believe it. Ten minutes before I was asleep – I thought it was still a dream!’Of the exhaustive number of cliches uttered by professional footballers after receiving their maiden international call-ups, ‘I thought it was a dream’ probably ranks just below the age-old English classic ‘I thought it was a wind-up’ at the top end of the list.The above was Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guendouzi’s response to finding out that Didier Deschamps had selected him to join World Cup winners Raphael Varane, Blaise Matuidi and Antoine Griezmann et al in Les Bleus squad for this month’s Euro 2020 qualifiers.AdvertisementAdvertisementGuendouzi might have committed the cardinal sin of resorting to cliche to describe what was a life-changing moment, but in his defence, it is easy to see why the news might have felt more like something plucked from his subconscious thoughts than an event that had actually happened.ADVERTISEMENTRapid riseIt has, after all, been a whirlwind 12-18 months for Arsenal’s floppy-haired No.29. As the French squad – drenched by pouring rain and interminable golden confetti – cavorted around the World Cup trophy in Moscow on July 15 last year, Guendouzi was preparing himself for life in a new country having joined Arsenal only four days before from FC Lorient.The then 19-year-old was the fifth and final signing of Unai Emery’s first transfer window and given his professional experience up until that point had been restricted to one full season in Ligue 2 and a smattering of appearances in the CFA – France’s fourth-tier – he was expected to be the least involved of the new quintet. Guendouzi drove Arsenal on during their second-half comeback against Aston Villa (Picture: Getty)The Frenchman was superb in Arsenal’s comeback against Spurs, driving his team on and providing the assist for Aubameyang’s equaliser in the second half. Against Villa, Guendouzi again took the game by the scruff of the neck, winning a penalty before setting up Calum Chambers to score, leading Alan Shearer to describe him afterwards as Arsenal’s ‘warrior’.AdvertisementAdvertisementEven besides those Herculean second-half efforts, Guendouzi has been involved in the thick of everything in Arsenal’s midfield. The statistics back that up; he ranks top for successful passes, joint-top for interceptions, joint-second for tackles won and joint-third for key passes amongst their squad. Guendouzi basically does everything other than shoot.With Dani Ceballos adapting to the pace of the English game and Granit Xhaka struggling to keep up with it, Guendouzi has taken it upon himself to be Arsenal’s deep-lying playmaker, midfield enforcer and box-to-box runner, all rolled into one. It is why his all-action recent displays have drawn comparisons to Cesc Fabregas’ time at the Emirates.Battle of Les BleusAs impressive as Guendouzi’s start to the campaign has been, he would not have been included in France’s latest squad had it not been for Paul Pogba’s withdrawal due to an ankle injury. That Deschamps chose Guendouzi to replace the Manchester United man, however, is telling.Pogba, despite what Graeme Souness and the rest of his critics might claim, is one of the most well-rounded central midfielders in the world, capable of contributing towards all aspects of play from the centre of the pitch due to his technical and physical qualities.During his time at Juventus, Pogba brought energy to an ageing midfield containing Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio and Arturo Vidal. For France, he has taken on the role of tempo-setter to complement the tenacity of N’Golo Kante. At United, he does a bit of both with some attacking flair chucked in for good measure. Comment How Matteo Guendouzi has emerged as Unai Emery’s most influential midfielder at Arsenal this season Advertisement
Harold R. “Harry” Clift, 66, passed away on Friday, February 5 at his residence in Greensburg. Born on March 26, 1949 in Ohio, he was the son of Carl R. and Katherine (Anderson) Clift. Harry was a truck driver for John R Moore trucking for 32 years. One of his favorite things to do was go out in the garage and fix different things with his grandchildren and he also loved camping with his family. He was married to Penny Carter on December 29, 1993 and she survives. He is also survived by two sons; Cory Clift, Milan, Craig Carter, Greensburg, two daughters; Anna Shaw, Ohio, Daphnie (Jerry) Taylor, Columbus, one brother; Chris Clift, Dillsboro, eight sisters; Anna (Louie) Prough, Pennsylvania, twin sister; Florence Smith, PA., Margie (Larry) Wilson, Dillsboro, Thelma (Donnie) Wingate, Dillsboro, Beatrice Goins, Dillsboro, Sunday (Ronnie) Wright, Dillsboro, Ramona Thompson, PA., and Mary Clift, Moores Hill, 8 grandchildren, and 2 great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, three brothers; James W., Paul, and Joseph Dean Clift, and his son; Harold Raymont Clift, and his father and mother in law; Buck and Betty Shafer. Visitation will be on Tuesday from 4 – 8 pm at Porter-Oliger-Pearson Funeral Home. Funeral services will be on Wednesday, February 10, 2016 at 10 am at Porter-Oliger-Pearson Funeral Home with Pastor Pam Loyd officiating. Interment will follow at South Park Cemetery. Memorials can be made to the family. Online condolences can be made to the family at www.popfuneralhome.com
(ESPNCRICINFO) – An Indian player is among at least ten members of the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) contingent who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Dubai. ESPNcricinfo understands there is only one player among those who tested positive, with the rest of them comprising support staff members and a few net bowlers.One of those found positive is the wife of a senior Super Kings official, though the official himself has tested negative.The infected persons are understood to have been moved to a different hotel from the team hotel, and are being monitored by medical personnel behind closed doors.As a result of this development, Super Kings have been forced to postpone the start of their training in Dubai to September 1.According to the IPL’s Standing Operating Procedures (SOPs), all those who tested positive will now need to undergo at least two weeks of further quarantine and clear two more tests before they can rejoin the group.ESPNcricinfo understands the positive test results are from the final round of testing in the UAE, which is part of IPL’s COVID-19 protocols comprising three tests that are mandatory for every person who is part of the tournament.As per the protocol, every person would get tested at the airport upon landing in the UAE, followed by two tests at the hotel on days 3 and 6.The protocol also makes it mandatory for everyone to undergo a six-day quarantine after landing, when they are not supposed to even mingle with team members or colleagues. Once the squad members clear all the mandatory tests only then can teams start their training.As per the original schedule, Super Kings would have started their training yesterday. However, their preparations are now in disarray. So far neither the franchise nor the IPL has made any public comment.The IPL is to start on September 19, but the schedule is yet to be finalised. The development is bound to put the IPL on alert simply because Super Kings, who finished runners-up in 2019, are expected to play defending champions Mumbai Indians in the tournament opener.Super Kings landed in Dubai on August 21 after part of their Indian contingent underwent a six-day conditioning camp in Chennai. That group included most of the senior Indian players in the squad including captain MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Deepak Chahar and Piyush Chawla.What happens now?According to tournament’s SOPs, those who test positive have to be “immediately isolated from rest of the squad”, and it is understood this has been done with the infected persons having been moved out of the team hotel. The SOPs also say “contact tracing” should “commence immediately”.If the person is “asymptomatic or has mild symptoms”, then he/she would need to be isolated outside the bio-secure bubble for two weeks from the “first day of symptoms or a positive PCR test report whichever is later”.The individual cannot also train during the 14-day isolation period and is advised complete rest. If the symptoms worsen then he/she would be shifted to a tournament-accredited hospital.“After the 2 weeks isolation, the individual must return 2 negative PCR test reports done 24 hours apart before being permitted to re-enter the Bio-Secure Environment. After recovery, players must undergo a cardiac screening before resuming any team activities,” is what the IPL said while distributing the SOPs to franchise recently.Had ‘reservations’ about Chennai camp – Super Kings CEOIncidentally, Super Kings CEO Kasi Viswanathan revealed he was skeptical about organising the camp in Chennai and that it was Dhoni who convinced him that the camp was necessary.“When we announced that the tournament (IPL) is going to happen, I had reservations about conducting the camp here because of the bio-bubble which we will have to observe,” Viswanathan said in a Super Kings video published on YouTube on August 26.“In fact, I even sent a message to him whether it will be worthwhile having a camp of five days before we leave for Dubai. But captain (Dhoni) was crystal clear in his thoughts.”Dhoni reasoned that the Chennai experience would also help players understand the basics of what being in a bubble meant.“He said: ‘No, Sir, we have not played for nearly 4-5 months. All of us need to get together. We should be in Chennai, in a bio-bubble, so that we get used to that when we land in Dubai. And also will help the boys getting in shape.’ This camp, though we had some reservations, has really helped. And I am very happy we were able to host the camp’.”
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