Why Mourinho’s Tempered Criticism Of Guendouzi Is Spot On

The former Chelsea and Manchester United manager, Jose Mourinho remains a reviled figure at Arsenal after spending much of his career coaching their fierce rivals.

Before the start of the English Premier League season, confidence was high at Arsenal following the arrival of Nicolas Pepe, David Luiz, and Real Madrid loan signing Dani Ceballos over the course of the summer transfer window. A heavy loss to Liverpool tempered many emotions at The Emirates but the fightback against Tottenham his invigorated a fanbase who are now looking at this as a do or die season for head coach Unai Emery.

Mourinho is now a pundit for the British TV company, Sky and covered the game between Arsenal FC and Tottenham Hotspur in the North London derby.

The former Porto, Real Madrid, and Inter Milan coach spent a lot of time exploring the problems he saw in the game of the French midfielder Matteo Guendouzi which includes his belief that too many safe passes were played by the Gunners new midfield star. Despite starting 33 Premier League games for the club last season, the Frenchman has not been seen as a guaranteed starter under Emery but was entrusted with an important midfield role for the North London derby.

Mourinho was looking at the passing statistics for Guendouzi which reached 83 percent from 53 passes. Despite this high completion rate, the Portuguese coach explained he believed the Frenchman was guilty of playing it too safe over the course of the North London derby with too many passes being placed to the side rather than probing to break down the defense.

The criticism of a coach who is known for claiming his players become too stressed to perform when they are in possession of the ball and usually plays with a double pivot at the base of his midfield may seem ironic, but he did provide a little support for the French youngster.

During the course of his analysis of the game, Mourinho did state he thought Guendouzi was capable of performing much better and pointed to his cross for the tying goal of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as proof of his abilities.

For Mourinho, the sabbatical he is currently being forced to take may have opened his eyes to more attacking football being played at Arsenal FC and other top clubs in the English Premier League and abroad. Although it is difficult to imagine Jose Mourinho playing more attacking football he does have a good understanding of how the Premier League can be won.

The fightback against Tottenham may have come at just the right time for Unai Emery as the fanbase was looking for a sign the club was moving forward after the limp end to the successful Arsene Wenger era. During the match commentary for Saturday’s game, the last Premier League title for Arsenal FC was described as sepia-tinted.

For Emery to continue the close relationship he is forming with the Arsenal fanbase he must show signs of improvement and more fight among a squad that has been heavily invested in as the Kroenke family finally loosened the purse strings at The Emirates.