Partey, Xhaka, Lokonga, Elneny and Azeez. Happy?

It has been a Boris Johnson sized u-turn as Granit Xhaka has gone from out the door to signing a new contract in a matter of weeks.

With the Swiss midfielder now staying, it is highly unlikely that Arsenal will invest further into central midfield having already purchased Albert Sambi Lokonga for £17.5million from Anderlecht.

Lokonga’s performances in training and pre-season is likely to be one of the reasons Arsenal have stuck with Xhaka – alongside no club in Europe having much money to pay Arsenal’s asking price.

The Belgium midfielder came with the backing of Anderlecht manager Vincent Kompany and Thierry Henry – who is part of Roberto Martinez’s nation team set up.

But his performances thus far have come as a surprise and he is closer to being a regular first team player than perhaps Edu and his team realised.

It is the performances of Lokonga that has perhaps led to Arsenal sticking with Xhaka rather than spending £30m+ on an Yves Bissouma.

Why make that investment if the club now think that in 12 months Lokonga could be the main man?

So if we are going into next season with Xhaka, Thomas Partey, Lokonga and Mo Elneny, are we happy?

I have always liked the balance in Xhaka and Partey in the middle of the park.

Partey is the power, the one that presses, whilst Xhaka is more static and disciplined.

Xhaka is the man to get the ball from front to back fairly quick whilst Partey is more likely to travel forward with the ball at his feet through the midfield. It is a midfield that can work.

Backing those two up is then Elneny and Lokonga.

I like Elneny.

He is a simple player who does not try too much. Just a solid individual. Will never win you a game but rarely make a mistake t lose you it. Solid 7 out of 10 player. Sort of many you need in the squad.

And Lokonga is the unknown.

He could make a similar impact as Patrick Vieira all them years ago, burst on the scene and be pushing for a starting place as the season goes on.

I would imagine that Elneny would replace Xhaka and Lokonga will be the Thomas Partey understudy.

4 in the middle might feel light, but it has to be remembered we do not have European football next season.

The 5th option could be Ainsley Maitland-Niles or Joe Willock; however I expect both to leave us before the transfer window shuts.

You then have 18-year-old Miguel Azeez.

Azeez has come back from his summer break looking stronger. The boy is becoming a man.

Whilst he missed out on the senior squads trip to Scotland due to injury, he impressed against Watford with a well taken goal.

At the weekend he was left out of the Mind Series squad, instead playing with the U23’s at Ebbsfleet, again scoring a goal.

Young players need to play to continue developing.

Whilst some might be calling for him to be a regular of Mikel Arteta’s first team squad, would sitting on the bench week in week out as 5th choice midfielder be detrimental for his future development?

He would be best off left with the U23s. He is just 18 remember.

Play regular football with his age group, but also train regularly with the senior team.

That way he gets the game time he needs to develop, but can step up to the senior team if there are injuries.

So Partey, Xhaka, Lokonga, Elneny and Azeez. Happy?



10 thoughts on “Partey, Xhaka, Lokonga, Elneny and Azeez. Happy?

  1. Gus Caesar

    No. Sambi alone isn’t going to change the heart of our team from being 8th place quality to top 4. I don’t dislike Elneny, but the question you need to ask is would he get as much game time at a top 4 club? Ditto Xhaka. Until we realise that we need quicker and sharper transitions through the middle of the pitch we’ll keep floundering against the low block. I’m fully expecting the same old frustrations this season and it’s going to be painful.


  2. jimmobm

    I would personally like an additional midfielder, or at least to keep Willock or AMN. Not to say I don’t rate Xhaka or El Neny but I think another young midfielder (older than Azeez) would be nice to so we have options for different systems throughout the match or depending on who we’re facing. Competition, even without Europe would stimulate the starters ib our midfield, Lokonga is a fantastic example of this, possibly good enough to start but is serious competition. Add another body in the mix and we’re set.


  3. Akan

    Xhaka moving the ball quickly Have you lost your mind??? Should have taken what Roma offered, Xhaka’s not worth half that


  4. Phil

    I think most people would ideally like an upgrade on Xhaka, however keeping him for a further 12 months at least gives us opportunity to see how Lokonga and Azeez develop – buying a young-ish guaranteed starter now would risk their progress. If in 12 months they haven’t come on as we’d like, then we go out and buy a top midfielder to replace Xhaka.

    As it stands we’d also be foolish to get rid of our only senior CM back-up in Elneny. He’s not sexy, but you should never underestimate the importance of a dependable, experienced CM in your squad.


  5. Dammy

    Lovely piece – agree with all bar 7 rating of El Neny. Happy with him as a squad player, but he is a player that needs a lot of direction. He works well with Partey/Xhaka because they tell him where to be and where to go with the ball. He can otherwise move the ball directionlessly for 90 minutes and he can MOVE for 90 minutes. His engine and accurate shooting are an asset, but pair with a younger head (Lokonga/AMN/Willock) and it could be a disaster. He is 29, with a year left on his contract with no offer on the table. There is a reason Guendouzzi moved ahead of him, despite his flaws.


  6. Bossman

    I know most arsenal fan doesn’t like xhaka but if can’t get upgrade on him you guys know we can’t buy for buying sake it will not make sense cos I know xhaka is not that bad player if he can cut off does little mistakes he does, Ruben nerves is not an upgrade on xhaka, locatelli refuse to join us let’s not forget that arsenal are not in europe so no good player will like to join us this this time,let’s do with what we have already,one love gunners for life


  7. JOEL

    Elneny is NOT a solid 7 out of 10 central midfielder…unless of course you’re viewing him through rose coloured spectacles.He would struggle to get into the first team of almost every other top half Premier League side.His main asset is an ability to always look busy but offset that against an inability to move the ball forward quickly into a new transition.His first movement is always looking sideways or backwards slowing down every attack that goes through him.His only real use is on the subs bench where he can be brought on to shore up the defensive side of the midfield should Arsenal need to hold on to a lead.There is no denying his desire to work hard and do whatever he can for the team which is more than can be said for certain other squad members.
    Xhaka is “Xhaka” …a more than capable midfielder able to marshall the team when allowed…great creativity when required…and not to forget a decent shot.That said as we’ve come to realise over his Arsenal tenure the pace of the Premier League isn’t ideally suited to his “game”.His lack of pace leaves him prone to making rushed mistakes and seems now…he would be far more successful plying his trade in Italy or even Spain.I fully understand why Arsenal wouldn’t wish to accept such a risable offer from Roma but to actually extend Xhaka’s contract when we already know that he doesn’t have the ability to take Arsenal anywhere near the Premier League top four makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
    Partey’s injury illustrates the need to bring in another dynamic central midfielder capable of breaking through the lines as well has holding his own defensively… and certainly someone more capable of fulfilling Arsenal’s midfield needs than the current alternatives….This being the case Willock needs to be allowed to go to Newcastle whilst his high transfer value remains at its current level as there can be no doubt that should he remain at Arsenal then he will struggle for game time and end up in the same “boat” as ANM …”surplus to requirement and not worth much in a deflated transfer market”.
    So far this Season’s Transfer Winfiw has been “OK”..but…if Arsenal are to actually be competitive this coming year then Edu needs to clear out far more of the “deadwood” and replace these players with others who are capable of making a difference (and I should immediately add that Aaron Ramsdale does NOT fit into this latter category)


    1. Phil

      There’s no point criticising Elneny for not being worthy of a first-team spot at other top-half clubs when he’s not a first-team player for us?!

      He’s a squad player for Arsenal, and on that basis is a useful option to have around the place.


  8. Atid

    Elneny 7 out of 10?
    Xhaka disciplined?

    I’m sorry the reality is far away from those two statements.

    Personally I would rather have Partey, Lokonga, Torreira, Willock, Azeez and Maitland-Niles over either of them.



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