There were not a huge amount of positives to take from the Gunners 3-1 loss to Barcelona who lacked a clinical edge and ended the second leg 5-1 down on aggregate, but the form of Mohamed Elneny provides some ray of light to Arsenal’s midfield woes.
Since the loss of Santi Cazorla to injury in November last year, the Gunners have struggled to replicate the Spaniard’s partnership with Francis Coquelin as the fulcrum of Arsene Wenger’s side.
In the £7.5m January signing, Arsenal could have the answer to their problems as Elneny looks to be an exciting, dynamic prospect alongside the defensive minded Coquelin.
The Egyptian was certainly identified as a defensive midfielder, but seems very comfortable filling in the box-to-box role that allows him to venture forward at every opportunity. A precise and agile player, he completed 93% of his passes against the reigning champions and had 3 shots – second equal only to Danny Welbeck in Arsenal colours who lead the line for the Gunners (via www.onlinewedden.com). His goal will fill him with plenty of confidence after a wasteful period, where he was particular guilty in the FA Cup exit at the hands of Watford on Sunday.
Against Barcelona, Elneny found himself in some promising positions without seeming to compromise his defensive duties. He certainly has an engine on him and can find the back of the net – something Arsenal’s midfielders have failed to do this season.
The former Basel midfielder feels there is still time to challenge for the title despite falling 11 points behind leaders Leicester City. “We’re still up for the league. We need to focus. We still have nine games to go and God willing we can do it,” he told reporters after the final whistle at Nou Camp.
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Although a last gasp title push seems unlikely considering Arsenal’s form, we can all hope the impressive performances of Elneny and a collective positive attitude can see them reduce the deficit over the next few weeks.