Arsenal’s Mark McGuinness has joined Ipswich Town on loan for the season, so what do we know about the youngster?

Mark McGuinness on his friendly debut for Arsenal against MK Dons (Photo via David Price on Twitter)
Mark McGuinness on his friendly debut for Arsenal against MK Dons (Photo via David Price on Twitter)

The 19-year-old had everyone talking after his monster header against MK Dons to kick off Arsenal’s 20/21 pre-season and we will get to see a lot more of him this season as he heads off to Ipswich on loan.

“I am very happy to be here,” McGuinness told the official Ipswich Town site.

“After getting the deal sorted I was really looking forward to training and it went well. I met the group this morning – they’re a great bunch of lads.

“I’m hoping to be involved in plenty of first-team matches here. The lads have started really well, so I know I’ll have to impress and I won’t just walk into the team, but I’m up for the challenge.

“My main priority is defending and I want to help the team keep as many clean sheets and be as solid as possible.

“I also enjoy getting on the ball, though. I can see this squad try to play out from the back and that’s something that will suit me and benefit me.

“The experience here could be invaluable to me. I want to make the most of it and help the Club achieve what it wants.”

What do we know about Mark McGuinness?

Mark McGuinness via Ipswich Town
Mark McGuinness via Ipswich Town

Another player who made his senior debut for Arsenal against MK Dons, centre-back Mark McGuinness made it count by scoring his first goal. He headed home powerfully from Nelson corner to make it 3-1.

Playing in the centre of the back three, the defender did well in addition to his goal.

MK Dons only put together 0.03 xG in the final half-hour of the match, which was thanks to a solid defensive effort from the group of academy players.

McGuinness already has the physicality for first-team football, he just needs to keep developing the rest of his game this season. He missed out on large portions of 2019/20 through injury, but 2020/21 could be his breakthrough year with the u23s.

Mark McGuinness: 18/12/19

Mark McGuinness made his third Arsenal u23 start of the season against Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday, and he made a good case for himself.

Mark McGuinness (Photo via Instagram)
Mark McGuinness (Photo via Instagram)

Playing the full 90 minutes against Dinamo Zagreb at centre-back, McGuinness put in an assured performance.

Compared to some of Arsenal’s other youth centre-backs, the Republic of Ireland u19 international always looks a bit more composed and commanding in the physical duels, particularly in the air. He’s also capable of a great slide tackle when necessary.

The 18-year-old only made his first league start of the season for the u23s on Friday. Although Arsenal did suffer a 1-0 defeat, McGuinness wasn’t at fault for an excellent long-range strike. He made a crucial goalline clearance at another stage.

McGuinness signed his first professional contract in April. He earned it by impressing with the u18s and helping them keep six clean sheets in 10 league games in 2019 as they romped to the South Division title. He even scored three goals in those games.

Why hasn’t McGunniess played more for the u23s?

The primary reason is McGuinness’ injury problems. After featuring in Arsenal’s pre-season friendly against Boreham Wood, McGuinness had a couple of setbacks and didn’t make an u23 squad until late October.

Injuries don’t fully explain his absence though. The centre-back played with the Ireland u19s in October, then again in November, but the only appearance he made for Arsenal in those two months was in the EFL Trophy.

Part of the problem is Konstantinos Mavropanos. Though Mavropanos was a first-team signing, he’s regularly in the u23s at the moment. He’s up to 11 appearances for them this season. The 22-year-old obviously has priority over his teenage counterpart.

It would be good for the both of them if Mavropanos went on loan, as others have suggested. McGuinness could get a proper u23 run alongside Harry Clarke, the pairing that was so effective for the u18s last season. Mavropanos could play some senior football.

For now, McGuinness will need to be patient. The academy teams are done for the year and kick off again on January 3rd.