At 8:22pm on Saturday, the Arsenal squad, one imagines, would have been climbing off their luxurious non-public airplane at some Hertfordshire airfield after a ridiculously quick flight from Manchester that felt prefer it had lasted an eternity.
As they did, one in all their club-mates was beginning a sequence of passes that may find yourself with one other of their club-mates hitting the ball low and onerous into the nook of the objective and wheeling away, hair bouncing and delight writ throughout his face.
Those two gamers weren’t mucking round on the runway. No Arsenal gamers on the airplane have been within the temper for that; their wounds have been nonetheless crimson and uncooked from the brutal, embarrassing destruction at the arms of Manchester City.
They weren’t replaying the probabilities of what may need occurred eight hours prior at the Etihad of their minds’ eye both.

Instead, the 2 club-mates in query have been 1000km away on France’s Mediterranean coast carrying the white and blue of Olympique Marseille.
By now, you might nicely have guessed the pair are William Saliba and Matteo Guendouzi. And on Saturday evening at the Stade Velodrome, they each placed on good shows, simply to make Arsenal’s nightmare Saturday that little bit worse.
Both Saliba and Guendouzi are out on their second mortgage in two seasons, each deemed surplus to necessities by Mikel Arteta and Edu Gaspar – one for causes that are clear, the opposite for causes that are altogether extra opaque.
Guendouzi’s high quality is simple. At his finest he’s a tremendous box-to-box midfielder with an important engine, good approach and a agency snap within the sort out. He additionally has a temperament that has seen him fall out of favour in north London and in Berlin, the place he spent a tumultuous 2020-21 marketing campaign with Hertha.
At Marseille, nevertheless, that fireplace in his stomach and tenacious taking part in model see him match like hand in glove – or at least they’ve to date.
He is a tremendous match for a membership that may be a wild place to play soccer and particularly for the administration of Jorge Sampaoli, a Marcelo Bielsa disciple who has devised 3-2-4-1 formation for l’OM that’s each bit as gung-ho because it sounds.
And it was Guendouzi who put the ball within the internet at 8:22pm on Saturday, for Marseille’s first in a 3-1 win over St Etienne, as his outdated mates in England wallowed of their self-inflicted distress.
A contact and go of pure, unadulterated high quality from Dimitri Payet despatched on-loan Leicester winger Cengiz Under flying down the left. Under’s cross discovered Konrad De La Fuente, who managed to drag it again for Guendouzi to fireside residence at the close to submit.

Mattéo Guendouzi!! 🤩
His first objective for Marseille! 🇫🇷
A wise end from the Arsenal Loanee 🤝 pic.twitter.com/orEpjM3qWE
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) August 28, 2021

“The Marseille fans are incomparable. At Arsenal, there’s a giant stadium, nevertheless it’s completely completely different,” Guendouzi had mentioned through the week. “The finest ambiance is right here.” As he hammered the ball residence, the Marseille ultras behind the objective proved his level.
For the remainder of the sport, Guendouzi was simply as energetic as these supporters too, protecting each blade, getting caught in and drawing fouls – as he has executed in all three and three-quarters of Marseille’s video games to date this season.
Still, as talked about, Guendouzi could be a livewire off the pitch in addition to on it, and if it goes incorrect for him at Marseille, it is going to be spectacular.
That, to some extent, makes Arteta and Edu’s choice to mortgage him out understandable – which is greater than may be mentioned for his Arsenal club-mate and Marseille team-mate Saliba.
Arsenal, like Sampaoli’s Marseille, lined up with a again three on Saturday. But whereas Arsenal’s trio – an odd concoction consisting of 1 Rob Holding, a pinch of Calum Chambers and a lightweight sprinkling of Sead Kolasinac – provided City about as a lot resistance as copper wire provides {an electrical} present, Marseille’s stood comparatively agency.
Marseille conceded as soon as, that a lot is true, a Timothee Kolodziejczak header from a scrumptious Adil Aouchiche nook. But for probably the most half, particularly given the formation they are taking part in in, they have been excellent – and Saliba was the decide of the trio, simply nearly as good as he was when out on mortgage with Nice final season.
Saliba didn’t get dribbled previous as soon as, he accomplished six dribbles himself, he received eight of ten floor duels and didn’t make a single error resulting in a shot. Not one, Arsenal fans. A defender who went a full 90 minutes with out making an error that led to a shot. Just think about!
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READ: Five William Saliba stats from Arsenal loanee’s good show for Marseille
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Ian Wright clearly was imagining as he took up punditry duties on Premier League Productions. And that specific thought experiment understandably crammed him with an uncontrollable irritation.
“I’m alleged to imagine that Kolasinac – somebody that they’re making an attempt to do away with – is best than William Saliba?” he questioned. “Saliba, who’s out on mortgage and apparently not at the [required] commonplace.
“So if [Saliba] just isn’t at the usual to play on this workforce – and Kolasinac can play – why have we purchased him? Because if Kolasinac can play in entrance of him, what’s happening? Why have we purchased him?”
The scattergun queries have been very legitimate, however they are ones solely Arteta and Edu can reply. Unfortunately for Arsenal fans like Wright, each males obstinately refuse to.
As Arsenal lurch by means of their do-it-yourself disaster, Saliba and Guendouzi are having a whale of a time within the south for France, taking part in nicely in a workforce that excites and entertains.
They’re each progressing of their careers and, after the way in which Arteta has ostracised them, we shouldn’t assume they’ll be too frightened about their mother or father membership and its supervisor’s predicament.
One suggestion for Arsenal fans, then: if you wish to see Arsenal gamers excelling this season, activate the following Marseille recreation.
By Joshua Law

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