Arsenal legend Ray Parlour has revealed why he believes manager Unai Emery is choosing to start young French midfielder Matteo Guendouzi.
Speaking to the Daily Star, Parlour - who played more than 450 games for Arsenal in all competitions - said he felt Guendouzi's form during pre-season was the reason he's been one of the Gunners' starting midfielders so far this season.
When the unheralded 19-year-old joined this summer from French second-tier side Lorient for around £8m, it was widely expected he would initially link up with the London club's under-23s.
About Guendouzi's unexpected starting role, Parlour said: "Guendouzi deserves his opportunity because he’s been one of our best midfielders in pre-season.
“He’s only 19. The easy option for the manager would have been to put experience in [but he hasn't]. I like that in a manager.
“If he plays well every week he should be in that team every week. That’s why I think he’s showing the youngsters, if you do well and you play well and impress then you get your opportunity.
“That’s a plus for me because I came through the ranks, I got my opportunity like that. You know when you’ve had a bad game and you’ve had a good game, and I think Guendouzi deserves his opportunity.”
With Guendouzi becoming a surprise fixture of Arsenal's starting midfield it has seen Swiss international Granit Xhaka drop somewhat out of the team.
Xhaka was hooked at half-time against Chelsea, and new signing Lucas Torreira is snapping at his heels for his position in the squad.
Parlour said: “He had a decent World Cup. I know he’s playing in a different position - maybe he’s more attack-minded.
“[Emery] brought him off at half-time so it shows you that if you’re not doing your job you’ll be out the team. Obviously, [Xhaka’s] got talent. It’s his third season now so he should have adapted to the Premier League or maybe he’s just had a slow start because he missed pre-season and he’s just not up to speed yet.”
Guendouzi is expected to start against West Ham in Arsenal's next match, with the young Frenchman hoping to continue his inspired start to the season.