Arsenal legend Winterburn issues warning ahead of derby
- Credit: PA
Former Arsenal defender Nigel Winterburn has issued a stark warning to Matteo Guendouzi ahead of this weekend’s north London derby.
Winterburn says the Frenchman needs to show a positive reaction to Mikel Arteta’s management style, otherwise he won’t be an Arsenal player for long.
And former left-back Winterburn admits he has been impressed with Arteta since the Spaniard took over at the Emirates having instilled some long overdue discipline at the club.
“Arteta doesn’t seem to be the type of manager to accept any excuses, we’ve already seen that he’s not afraid to leave players out of the squad who don’t toe the line and I really admire him for that because he’s clearly trying to instill some discipline,” he said.
“With Guendouzi, it all comes down to the player’s actions as well as the manager. I don’t know exactly what issues there are with Guendouzi, but it looks like the manager has had a word with him and asked him to show that he can do what is asked of him for the benefit of the team so everyone can move forward.
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“But if the player is not willing to do that, or has taken offence in some way, then you usually find that the player will ultimately force his way out of the club. He’s a young player who has made some improvements over a short period of time but there’s a lot more room for development from him.
“It’s up to the player to turn this situation around. It looks as though Arteta has thrown down the gauntlet to try and test his resolve, and if Guendouzi reacts in the wrong way then he’ll be gone. You can’t have someone in your squad who is disturbing the rest of the team.
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“But I have to say I like the way Arteta is organising the team and how he is dealing with these situations, it seems as though he won’t take any messing around and that’s a good thing – it’s been too easy at Arsenal for too long.”
Winterburn was somewhat surprised by reports which suggest Guendouzi has been heavily linked with Barcelona, and the former Arsenal man told bookmakers.co.uk that the Frenchman would seriously need to up his game if he has any chance of making it at Camp Nou.
“I think there would need to be a huge improvement in Guendouzi’s game for Barcelona to be willing to take him,” he added.
“He’s a young kid who’s made big improvements but there’s a long way to go, so that would surprise me if it turns out to be true.
“Arsenal wouldn’t just let him go easily even if they do decide to sell him, it would need to be a substantial fee, so would Barcelona think he’s worth the risk? If the price is right, maybe, but it seems like a bit of a long shot to me.”
Elsewhere, ahead of this weekend’s North London Derby, Winterburn told bookmakers.co.uk that the fixture is going to have a much different feel without the fans, which could impact how the respective managers approach the game in terms of motivating the players.
“It’s going to be quite weird to be honest,” he said. “What’s going to be fascinating, for me, is what the intensity is going to be like without the crowd.
“Having played in these games, I think Arteta will be able to relate to his players and what the result will mean for the supporters. It’s certainly a game you don’t want to lose because you’ll be reminded of it for a very long time.
“Does it make any difference that Arteta has played in the North London Derby whereas this is Mourinho’s first? I’m not so sure. Mourinho is very experienced as a manager, so I think he knows what it’s like to be a part of big derby games.
“Some of the players might find it easier to play in a derby game without the intensity of the crowd, but you have to remember that derby games are unpredictable.”
Although Arsenal have since addressed their worryingly bad form since they returned from the Premier League hiatus, Winterburn accepts it doesn’t count for much when these two sides meet, when you consider their historic rivalry.
“It’s really hard to weigh up what’s going to happen. Sometimes form goes out the window, but even still you want to be going in super confident and I think Arsenal are in a good place at this moment in time,” he added.
“The first couple of games back I thought they were really poor, but then Mikel switched to a back five which I think is the best system for the squad that he’s got right now. Their organisation has looked really good and there’s pace on the break.
“So it’s looking a lot better than it was three weeks ago, but it’s going to be a long process for Mikel Arteta and Arsenal and the derby game won’t determine what’s going to happen in the coming months, but it’s a huge game for the supporters, even though they can’t be there to experience it.”
Finally, Winterburn told bookmakers.co.uk that finishing above their North London rivals could be one way to rescue the Gunners’ season, but from his point of view, it is crucial that his former side secure a spot in next season’s Europa League competition.
“From the supporters’ point of view, finishing above Spurs is probably the best way to salvage something from this league campaign, but Arteta will be aiming for a Europa League place because the club will need that money going forward,” he said.
“Some supporters might be quite happy to have a year out of Europe to concentrate on other things, but the club will be looking for that Europa League revenue and I don’t think anything higher is achievable at this stage in the league.
“We’re still waiting for news on Manchester City’s fate but even with that, there’s too many teams ahead of Arsenal, too many teams in good form for them to make the top four. I just don’t see Arsenal climbing enough places in so few games to get Champions League football.”
To read the bookmakers.co.uk article featuring Nigel Winterburn, visit https://bookmakers.co.uk/news/tottenham-vs-arsenal-more-than-a-battle-of-the-also-rans