Tag Archives: Mohamed Elneny

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly of Arsenal’s International Break

The Good

Mohamed Elneny

Egypt 2-1 Congo

Mohamed Elneny played the full 90 minutes of Egypt’s World Cup qualifying win over Congo which saw his country to qualify for a World Cup for the first time since 1990.

Egypt to win the World Cup: 150/1

Alex Iwobi

Nigeria 1-0 Zambia

Alex Iwobi came off the bench to score Nigeria’s only goal as the Super Eagles became the first African side to secure qualification for the World Cup. A 1-0 victory.

Nigeria to win the World Cup: 150/1

David Ospina

Colombia 1-2 Paraguay

David Ospina featured as Colombia lost 2-1 to Paraguay, with the visitors scoring twice in the final minutes to snatch the three points.

Peru 1-1 Colombia

David Ospina and Colombia will play at their second successive World Cup after securing a 1-1 draw against Peru.

Columbia to win the World Cup: 33/1

Alexandre Lacazette, Olivier Giroud

Bulgaria 0-1 France

Alexandre Lacazette and Olivier Giroud both featured in France’s 1-0 win over Bulgaria. Lacazette started in an exciting front three with Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe, Giroud was an 85th-minute.

France 2-1 Belarus

Olivier Giroud became France’s joint-seventh top goalscorer as he helped France to secure their place at next summer’s World Cup with a win over Belarus in Saint-Denis. Giroud charged through to double Les Bleus’ advantage just after the half-hour mark. Giroud played the entirety of the game, with Alexandre Lacazette an unused sub.

France to win the World Cup: 5/1

Nacho Monreal

Spain 3-0 Albania

Nacho Monreal was an unused substitute as Spain hit three past Albania in World Cup qualifying.

Israel 0-1 Spain

Monreal helped Spain keep a clean sheet as the former world champions saw off Israel 1-0 in Jerusalem, courtesy of a late goal from Asier Illaramendi.

Spain to win the World Cup: 7/1

The Bad

Sead Kolasinac

Bosnia & Herzegovina 3-4 Belgium

Sead Kolasinac played the duration of Bosnia’s World Cup qualifying defeat to Belgium, where he was booked.

Estonia 1-2 Bosnia-Herzegovina

Sead Kolasinac played the first half in Tallinn as Bosnia-Herzegovina’s World Cup dreams were dashed despite them finishing Group H with a win in Estonia. Greece’s home win over Gibraltar meant it wasn’t enough to reach the play-off round.

Aaron Ramsey

Georgia 0-1 Wales

Aaron Ramsey won his 50th Wales cap and assisted Tom Lawrence’s winner in his country’s 1-0 win at Georgia.

Wales 0-1 Republic of Ireland

Aaron Ramsey was on the losing side as Wales were beaten 1-0 by the Republic of Ireland in Cardiff, ending their World Cup qualification hopes.

The Ugly

Shkodran Mustafi

Germany 5-1 Azerbaijan

Shkodran Mustafi started Germany’s World Cup qualifying win over Azerbaijan but was substituted after just 36 minutes through injury as Germany maintained their 100 per cent record in World Cup qualifying.

Germany to win the World Cup: 5/1

Alexis Sanchez

Chile 2-1 Ecuador

Alexis scored the winning goal in the 86th minute against Ecuador to seal three points for Chile, who are now on the verge of automatic qualification to the World Cup.

Brazil 3-0 Chile

Copa America winners in 2015 and 2016 – but Alexis and Chile won’t be at next summer’s World Cup. The result that saw Chile fail to finish in the top five qualifying spots in South America as a consequence of other results. Alexis played the full 90 minutes.

The Neutral

Granit Xhaka

Switzerland 5-2 Hungary

Granit Xhaka opened the scoring for Switzerland in their World Cup qualifying win over Hungary. The midfielder capitalised on goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi’s slip to slot in from close range are just 18 minutes.

Portugal 2-0 Switzerland

Granit Xhaka’s Switzerland could still make the World Cup in Russia next summer – but his Switzerland team will have to qualify through the European play-off round after losing their decisive qualifier in Portugal.

Switzerland to win the World Cup: 80/1

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Alexandre Lacazette, Mohamed Elneny, Nacho Monreal, Craig David & Tony Pullis

Alexandre Lacazette

Been a few years since we have had a player who is so lively in the box. Such quick feet, alert, always moving forward, always looking to score a goal.

We have had some brilliant striker sin recent years, all with their own unique abilities, Olivier Giroud – strong as an Ox; Robin van Persie – clinical shot; Thierry Henry – all round genius. But we have not had someone like Alexandre Lacazette since the days of Ian Wright.

He is a livewire. Have to wonder why we did not sign him a couple of years ago.

Mohamed Elneny

Have to wonder if he had cost £30m or name was Jack Wilshire, people would be demanding him to be starting week in week out.

He out shone Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey and is a solid, hard working central midfielder, who can play. Last night his performance reminded me of Ray Parlour in the middle of the park. All action. All hair.

In the limited game time he has played this season, he has outperformed Xhaka. The same go’s for last season too.

I know 90 minute metrics often favour players coming on in the closing stages, but with Xhaka in poor form, Elneny surely deserves a start against Brighton?

Nacho Monreal

The first time I saw Nacho Monreal play on the left of a 3, I knew he would excel in that position.

For your wide centre backs, you need players who can both perform at centre back, as well as cover the wider areas. Monreal, naturally a left back, does a solid job of this. And last night, those who moan all the time about players playing out of position would have finally realised that just because a position is where a player has played the majority of his career, it does not mean that is his position for the future.

At 31, and with Saed Kolasinac coming in, Morneal might have feared his career at Arsenal was over. Instead of complaining, pushing for a move to Spain, he knuckled down and has learnt the position.

With his contract set to run out in 2019, Arsenal need to start negotiating now to extend that by a couple of years. He still has a big part to play in Arsenal’s future.

Arsenal pull a Craig David at home

Started the season against Leicester on a Friday,
Then played Bournemouth on a Saturday,
Klon invaded Islington on a Thursday,
Doncaster in the Carabao Cup on a Wednesday,
And we beat West Brom on a Monday,
Host Brighton at noon on a Sunday,
And then play Norwich on a Tuesday.

OK, I should probably stick to my day job as I am clearly not a lyrical genius, but Arsenal’s first 7 home games of the season are all on a different day of the week. I wonder if that has ever happened before. Maybe a question for the Arsenal History Boys.

Tony Pullis

You’re a knob mate. You are a grown man and you wear baseball caps. You are scumbag who got caught out lying when attempting to defraud Crystal Palace. How does it feel to be £3.77m poorer?

Keenos

Santi Cazorla’s Arsenal career over – who will replace him?

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The news was as expected. Santi Cazorla has been told to undergo surgery for Achilles tendon injury.

A quick Google of recovery times shows that after surgery, someone will be able to walk unaided after 6 – 12 weeks. But will not be able to return to full activity for 6 months. Taking into account we are a football club, not a normal person going physio once a week, you could probably guestimate that Cazorla will be out for 4-6 months. Pretty much ruling him out for the season.

It is then safe to assume that Santi Cazorla’s Arsenal career is over.

Arsenal's Santi Cazorla goes down injured against Norwich City.

He is 32 in a few weeks and with 1 year left on his contract, Arsenal were already debating as to whether to reward him with a new contract. There had been little talk of one being on the table. Cazorla had also spoken a few times about finishing his career in Spain.

With his age and his recent injury record (2 serious injuries in 12 months) it will be a very big risk for Arsenal to offer Cazorla anything more than a one year deal. Cazorla would be crazy to accept – knowing that a Spanish club would possibly offer him more.

So the love story of Arsenal and their cheeky chappy Spanish dwarf is over.

So where does this leave Arsenal’s midfield?

We only discussed a week ago about how much Arsenal were missing Santi Cazorla. With his career at the club now almost certainly over, it is time to look at the options.

Like for like replacement

Santi Cazorla is unique. His two footedness is only equalled by Ronnie O’Sullivan’s ambidextrous snooker playing.

He might be small, and not be physically capable for a heated midfield battle, but he always gave his all, and his control, dribbling and passing ability got him out of trouble when up against bigger men.

He was able to wriggle out of tight situations where he should really be getting overpowered with ease. A drop of the should, a quick pass off both feet. And it is the way he opened up both sides of the pitch that made him such a danger.

The fact is, there is no one in world football who is as gifted off both feet as Santi Cazorla. So a like for like replacement is unlikely.

You might see the likes of Isco get mentioned as a replacement, yet he is more lightweight and does not have Santi’s gifts.

Nice midfielder Vincent Koziello has had some comparisons to Cazorla. But this is more due to his size than his ability. Cazorla is far superior.

The only man who gets close to Cazorla’s attributes is Dimitri Payet. But he does not have the attitude of Cazorla. He would not be able to adapt to playing deeper.

So the realise is, a like for like replacement is an unrealistic demand.

Midfield Combinations

If we can not get in a like for like replacement, we will have to look at getting the midfield pairing right. The strength of two being great than one (and the power of three setting us free).

Discounting Cazorla, Arsenal currently have 5 central midfielder’s on their books to chose from going forward (including 1 on loan). How would they match up, and how could they partner with each other?

Francis Coquelin: The legs of the midfield. He covers the ground. Arsenal’s Kante. It is he who when partnered with Cazorla, allowed Santi to stroll through a lot of games. He was Cazorla’s legs. Getting round the park, winning the ball, and laying it off to the Spaniard. It is unlikely that we will get in a player as gifted on the ball as Santi, so Coquelin’s lack of ability on the ball could see him drop down the pecking order.

Granit Xhaka: Once he gets up to speed (I am still baffled as to why Xhaka is not yet playing regulary), Xhaka will be a terrific ball playing holding midfielder. Very much in the Xabi Alonso / Michael Carrick role, he has a terrific passing range, but also has very good defensive awareness and a bit in the tackle. He is a bit more defensive than Cazorla, not as good in tight situations, and it just one footed. But his passing ability will be essential when it comes to replacing Cazorla.

Mohamed Elneny: Kind of a mix of Coquelin and Xhaka. He doesn’t cover as much defensively as Coquelin, but can get round the park more than Xhaka. He is a better passer than the Frenchman, but no where near as good as Granit. He has been exposed in a couple of recent games for not giving the defence enough cover, and not quite having enough creativity. He has a place in the Arsenal squad, but as cover, rather than first choice.

Jack Wilshere: By now he should be Arsenal captain. Instead he is on loan at Bournemouth. Some think, like Cazorla, he will not be seen at Arsenal again. If fit and firing, he would offer very similar to what Cazorla did. The passing ability, being able to take the ball in tight situations and wriggle out of them, he should be exceptional. He just lacks Cazorla’s ambidextrous. And then we have his injuries. Last year we planned to build the midfield around him, and he got injured. Can you really pencil a player into the 1st team if he can not be relied upon? I am not sure. Also, if Granit xhaka is behind him, Mesut Ozil ahead, we have a midfield 3 of left footers. Not much balance.

Aaron Ramsey: And that leaves everyones favourite, Aaron Ramsey. Who had a shocker mid week. But his class is undeniable (even if some do try and deny it). For me, his best position is as the ‘waterboy’ of the team. Doing the hard work between someone more defensive and someone more attacking. If we are under the cosh, he has the defensive awareness to sit in alongside the defensive midfielder. If we are on top, he is free to get forward and support the front 4. He just needs to be played in his right position.

So an Aaron Ramsey / Granit Xhaka combination. And it is a combination that could work.

One left footed, the other right, gives us balance not seen since Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit. Xhaka has the defensive awareness and ability on the ball to sit in front of the back 4 and start the play, as Petit used too. Meanwhile Ramsey has the legs to get around the field, press a bit higher, a bit like Vieira did.

With Mesut Ozil ahead, it should give us plenty of creative fluidity, and plenty of defensive cover.

We would then have the options of Jack Wilshere, Mohamed Elneny and Francis Coquelin as cover depending on the opposition / injury situation.

 

Losing Cazorla will be tough. A popular player who offered so much on the pitch. But we now need to move on. Let’s get the Xhaka / Ramsey axis developed.

Who do you think should play central midfield (pick 2):

Keenos