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Mohamed Elneny set for more playing time after new Arsenal contract

The Egypt international has played a prominent role in the Gunners’ Europa League campaign.

Jake Jackman

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Photo: Getty Images

Mohamed Elneny has signed a new long-term contract with Arsenal, as confirmed by the club on Monday.

The Egyptian midfielder is seen as an effective squad player who can contribute in a starting role when required and, at the age of 25, there is scope for him to improve further. His best years are in front of him and he will be playing them at the Emirates Stadium.

It may not be seen as the most impactful new contract at the club, but it is crucial to maintain a good squad and Elneny is a reliable player in the middle of the park.

Given the uncertainty regarding the future direction of Arsenal, there will be an opportunity for him to become a member of the first-team, especially if a new manager is appointed during the summer.

It is unlikely that Arsene Wenger is making all decisions on recruitment and contracts, which suggests that it is people within the Board Room that wanted to keep the former Basel player around.

This season hasn’t been as great for Elneny as he would have hoped. In fact, he has had more playing time in the Europa League than the Premier League.

This marks him very much as a squad player at the club. However, there have been flashes of his ability and an average pass completion of 93.7% across both competitions is impressive.

A quick look at his stats in the Europa League show the player that he can be in the middle of the park. Elneny averages 1.02 chances created and 2.3 ball recoveries per ninety minutes.

They aren’t incredible numbers, but they show that he can contribute in both halves of the pitch.

It is his work rate and positioning that are his best attributes, but these don’t translate to stats very well. He is always covering a lot of ground for the team and his concentration levels are high, as shown by the rarity he makes mistakes.

Arsenal are often criticised for a lack of heart, but that criticism can’t be directed at Elneny.

There is a lot to like about Elneny and Arsene Wenger praised the player last August. He spoke to the official site and the comments reflect how highly the midfielder is thought of within the club:

“It took him some time to adapt to the intensity of the games and I think he was not aggressive enough for the Premier League [initially]. But now he has added that to his game. 

“People forget that Elneny is 25 years old. He is not 30 – he’s still a young player and his best years are in front of him.”

Elneny is still considered a young player by Wenger and it could be that more playing time is right around the corner for the Egyptian international.

The midfield area is a weakness for Arsenal, as they have struggled to find the right combination of players. Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka are both very good players in their own right, but they lack something as a partnership.

Meanwhile, Jack Wilshere has yet to sign a new deal and has suffered another injury.

The rest of the season is a write off for Arsenal aside from the Europa League. It offers them the best chance of success and it is worth noting that Mohamed Elneny has played a prominent role in the competition.

The success hasn’t been down to him, but he has contributed and done enough to earn a new contract. There should now be a chance to replicate that form in the Premier League.

Jake is a journalist based in the South East. He is a Newcastle United fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

Arsenal

One winner, one loser from Arsenal’s loss to Chelsea

Unai Emery has a lot of work to do with his new side.

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Arsenal‘s start to 2018-19 has proven to be extremely difficult, as the Gunners have lost both of their opening matches under Unai Emery.

The fixture list was cruel to the North London side, throwing up games against Manchester City and Chelsea, and the Gunners have been left empty-handed despite showing fight in Saturday’s 3-2 defeat to the Blues.

Maurizio Sarri’s side raced into a two-goal lead in the first half but were pegged back by Arsenal, before Marcos Alonso’s last strike ensured the Blues kept all three points in West London. Here, we have identified one winner and one loser from the Gunners’ squad.

Winner: Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Regularly criticised during his time at Manchester United for a perceived failure to perform in big matches, Henrikh Mkhitaryan showed that is not a problem at Arsenal with a superb individual performance against Chelsea.

during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Arsenal FC at Stamford Bridge on August 18, 2018 in London, United Kingdom.

The Armenia international bounced back from a shocking miss, blazing over the bar with the goal at his mercy, to pull the Gunners back into the match with the first goal under Emery’s regime before then turning provider for Alex Iwobi’s equaliser.

Mkhitaryan certainly has a long way to go until he fully fills the void that Alexis Sanchez’s departure in January left but the early signs under a new boss are promising, building upon a solid first few months at the club from last season.

Loser: Mesut Ozil

Entering the campaign on the back of a tough summer, where Mesut Ozil embarked on a war of words with Germany’s Football Association and at least temporarily closed the door towards further international football after the World Cup.

Ozil found support from Arsenal on social media but it is clear his head is not quite where it needs to be at the moment, as he endured another tough test against Chelsea. Although not as bad as social media will have you believe, the World Cup winner is certainly far from his best.

Clearly low on confidence, Ozil needs a solid performance to get him back to his highest level and needs his team-mates to rally around him in the coming weeks.

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Three key takeaways from Emery’s Arsenal press conference

Emery is searching for his first win as Arsenal boss.

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Unai Emery’s Arsenal side travel to face Chelsea this weekend, as they seek to bounce back from defeat to Manchester City last week.

Pep Guardiola’s defending champions secured a 2-0 win at the Emirates Stadium, leaving Arsenal seeking to avoid back-to-back defeats at the start of Emery’s tenure – a tough challenge as the Gunners have not won at Stamford Bridge in the league since 2011.

Ahead of the fierce London derby, we have identified three key takeaways from Emery’s pre-match press conference.

Cech starts again

One of the big talking points, when the team was selected ahead of the game against Manchester City, was the fact that Petr Cech got the nod ahead of summer signing Bernd Leno – and it seems there will be no changes in that aspect for the trip to Chelsea.

Emery’s comments suggest that Cech’s Premier League experience gives the veteran stopper the edge of Leno and the Germany international will have to continue to wait for his competitive debut for the Gunners.

“I am happy with Petr Cech’s performance and he has lots of quality and experience. For Saturday, the decision for me is easy. Petr Cech can continue to start the match, I believe in him. If [in the future] Bernd starts, I believe in him also.”

Away tactics

While Arsenal suffered defeat against Manchester City, there were aspects of the Gunners performance that caught the eye and Unai Emery wants that momentum to continue in the trip across London to face Chelsea.

It seems Arsenal will not change their set-up for the match away from home but Emery is keen to ensure his side continue to play with the right pace, personality and mentality at Stamford Bridge – where they have the chance to make a statement of intent.

“When we are going to play away I want us to keep our personality and mentality because I think against Man City on Sunday, when we were losing, we kept our speed in the game. I want us to continue that and be competitive in 90 minutes and produce a better performance that Sunday.”

Big game improvements

It’s no secret that Arsenal have struggled in recent years against their ‘big six’ rivals and history at Stamford Bridge is not on their favour. Therefore, it’s clear that the Gunners need to improve in this area – and Unai Emery is aware of that.

The Spaniard’s comments do not necessarily address the latter years under Arsene Wenger but they might as well have. Emery has shown he can play the game in the press conferences but he now needs his side to improve their form on the field.

“We wanted to start well against a great team like Manchester City in front of our fans, but we lost. The result is very big, but it’s also important the way we achieve that. The difficulty is clear but I believe in our players and we need to improve in the biggest games. We lost the first game but I do not want to change our mentality.”

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Arsenal fans want Emery to sell Granit Xhaka after Man City loss

Fans are demanding Arsenal sell Xhaka in the next two weeks.

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Arsenal fans have made it clear throughout the history of the internet they need someone to be angry at and Granit Xhaka has inherited the crown.

With Arsene Wenger finally out, the Switzerland international has followed the likes of Francis Coquelin and Theo Walcott as Arsenal’s weekly scapegoat, a title that is tough to shake, and his performance against Manchester City did not help matters.

Poor on the ball and struggling to cope with the Citizens’ quota of stars, fans on social media quickly flocked to criticism the midfielder and demand that Unai Emery sells the former Borussia Monchengladbach man ASAP.

With Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira amongst Emery’s summer acquisitions, Xhaka has plenty of competition for his role in midfield and many fans have made it clear they don’t want to see Xhaka wear the Arsenal shirt once again.

Unfortunately, that is unlikely to happen and, a few months down the line, another scapegoat may have been identified. For now, it’s best Xhaka avoids logging onto Twitter…

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