Tag Archives: Mohamed Elneny

Lucas Torreira, Mo Elneny & Grant Xhaka

Lucas Torreira

Saw a few fans during yesterday’s game between Egypt and Uruguay question how good Lucas Torreira must be if he “can’t even get into his national team”.

As the majority of us at England fans, is this view not a little arrogant? And extremely ignorant.

Uruguay are ranked 14th in the world. That is just one place below England – a side which Jack Wilshere can’t even get into the squad for.

They are ranked above the likes of Holland, Italy, Columbia and Croatia.

Ahead of him in the Starting XI is Rodrigo Bentancur. The 20 year old had a break through season for Juventus last season, who secured first option to sign him when he was just 17.

Also ahead of him is 26 year old Matías Vecino, who Inter Milan paid €24m for last summer.

Let’s not pretend this Uruguay is a poor team. They have an array of talented young midfielders, including Nahitan Nández (22) and Giorgian De Arrascaeta (24).

It is no shame that Torreira did not start.

Uruguay are not exactly Scotland or Republic of Ireland. They are a good outfit.

Mohamed Elneny

One player who did start the game was Egypt’s Mo Elneny.

He put in the solid if unexceptional performance that he has become known for.

If Arsenal do go ahead next year and play 3 in the middle of the park, Elneny has to be in with a shout if being the deepest of those 3.

He covers a lot of ground, is disciplined and defensive aware.

You do not win the league with 11 Lionel Messi’s. You need a Sergio Busquet’s or Fernandinho.

Elneny can do that job (although it would be good to also secure Torreira so that we have competition in the area.

Granit Xhaka

Not everyone’s cup of tea but Granit Xhaka signing a new contract is great news for the club.

With Jack Wilshere looking like he is off and Aaron Ramsey still yet to sign a contract, Xhaka is a man who the modified can be built around.

Still just 25, Unai Emery needs to get the balance of the midfield right to get the best out of the Swiss international.

Signs Lucas Torreira could be just what is needed to allow Xhaka to excel.

A midfield 3 of:

Xhaka Torreira Ramsey

Has a lot of balance to it.

Since joint Arsenal two years ago, he has had to deal with a lot of criticism from fans and the media.

Xhaka gets a lot of blame for the team being set up unbalanced. He has never really played as the deepest central midfielder.

He needs to be allowed to press and be aggressive. Sitting deep never suited him.

By having someone behind him will allow him to get further forward, to be more aggressive in the middle of the park, and know he has a safety net behind him.

I am predicting that Xhaka playing the ball from deep over the top to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be a route for a lot of goals next season.

Keenos

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Arsenal’s March of the Never Rated

2-2 at full time; 6-3 on aggregate. On paper it looks as if Arsenal have cruised through to the Europa League semi-finals. The reality is somewhat different.

Arsenal survived a scare in Moscow. Trailing 2-0 and under pressure in the second half, a 3rd CSKA goal would see them lead the tie on away goals.

The up stepped Danny Welbeck in the 75th minute to give Arsenal the breathing space with the sides first shot on target.

That single goal by Welbeck turned the tie. Instead of it being 1 more goal for Moscow to go through, they now needed 2 goals just to take it to extra time. It knocked the stuffing out of them.

Welbeck is often derided by Arsenal fans. Deemed not good enough. A frustrating player. One who has all the physical attributes to be world class, but none of the ability. He struggles in front of goal – a massive problem for a striker.

But in the last 4 games for Arsenal, he has 5 goals and an assist – had he joined Liverpool in January, the press will be going on about how great he was, how much he has improved under Jurgen Klopp.

But he, nor Wenger, will get any credit. It will be labelled as “just Moscow”.

With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang cup tied and Henrik Mkhitaryan our injured, the role of supporting Alexandre Lacazette has fallen to Welbeck. And he has not disappointed.

In his last 2 second leg Europa League appearances, he has been the game changer.

Against AC Milan, trailing 1-0 at home, Welbeck won and converted the penalty to make it 1-1. He then scored if the 86th minute to put the tie to bed.

Then yesterday Arsenal were on the verge of going out. Shell shocked. It was Roma v Barcelona all over again. Then Danny Welbeck stepped up to the plate with his excellent goal.

Yesterday was actually his 10th goal of the season. If he can do that consistently, as 3rd choice striker, Arsenal have a decent contributor in the squad. Bit like Sylvain Wiltord.

Then we have the man of the match from yesterday. The stats speak for themselves.

During the game, some people began comparing him to Gilberto Silva in the fact that a lot of what he does you do not see.

I am not 100% sold on the comparison, but Elneny has a very simple and effective game. Win the ball, then pass it to someone who is in a better position to create. He understands his limitations and works hard.

Unlike Francis Coquelin; who always seemed to be frustrated and wanting to be involved in the build up, Elneny sits back, covering the back 4.

But he can also play. 2 assists yesterday show this. He might not be as good defensively as Gilberto, but he is better on the ball.

I would like to see him given the chance to play in the middle of the midfield 3 until the rest of the season. We still need a top defensive midfielder, but continual good performances by Elneny will give the manager another option.

Whilst Elneny goes about his business quietly, without much praise from the supporters, a fans favourite is struggling.

Jack Wilshere has a horrendous game. Not for the first time this season, he looked off the pace, his touch and passing deserting him.

He has been average this season, and last night showed why Arsenal are reluctant to invest in him. Whilst the likes of Elneny and Aaron Ramsey have stepped up, Wilshere has gone backwards.

He seemed to spend the majority of yesterday rolling about on the floor and complaining. It is also interesting to see the tide on Twitter turning against him. Many of those backing him to start earlier in the season now questioning his place in the starting XI.

Arsenal clearly think they can improve on Jack Wilshere. That the money he wants could go towards financing a deal on someone who is superior. Fitter. More consistent. And it is hard to argue against that.

The club might even feel that if they secure the right defensive midfielder, it will allow them to push Granit Xhaka further forward. Allow him to be the deep-lying playmaker with a man behind him clearing up.

It is the role he plays so well for Switzerland. The role he played in Germany before he signed for Arsenal. He has never been the deepest of the midfield. He has always played with someone more defensive minded next to him, or behind him.

Xhaka will probably be back this weekend for the game at Newcastle. If he is 100%, he should go straight back in the first team alongside Ramsey and Elneny.

Wilshere is clearly in need of a rest. It might become a permanent one.

So we are through thanks to those who people sit and moan about.

The draw is today at 12noon. RB Salzburg, Atlético Madrid and Marseille are our potential opponents. None of them fear me.

Up the Arsenal

Keenos

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