Arsene Wenger claims the only reason he put new signing Mohamed Elneny on the bench against Stoke City was to give him a closer look of English football, and prepare him for his eventual Arsenal debut, as reported by Kingfut.
Having finally completed our first signing of the January transfer window – and acquiring the defensive midfielder we’ve needed for so long – Arsenal fans were hoping to see a debut for Elneny, even if it was a cameo appearance off the bench.
Wenger clearly didn’t think the Egyptian international was ready though, and opted not to throw him into the lion’s den known as the Britannia Stadium.
The Frenchman insists the 23-year-old would have loved to get involved in the scrappy and physical battle against Mark Hughes’ side, but left him on the bench so he could see just how tough the English top flight can be.
“I kept Elneny on the bench to give him a good look [of the game] and how tough it is in England,” he said.
“Look, he is a positive boy, 23-years-old, very intelligent player as well, and he would have loved [to play against Stoke].”
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We arguably could have done with Elneny against the Potters, as with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott misfiring, we needed a little more creativity from deep in midfield. He would have offered us a little more going forward than Mathieu Flamini, although clearly Wenger didn’t believe he was ready.
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It seems unlikely that he’ll start against Chelsea either, with Wenger preferring to ease players in rather than rushing them into action. With Francis Coquelin still absent we could really use the former FC Basel star though, so hopefully he settles in quickly in training.