With the long-awaited transfer for a defensive midfielder now over, Arsenal and their supporters can finally look to a player other than the relatively useless Mathieu Flamini to hold down the defensive midfield duties. Mohamed Elneny’s transfer to Arsenal has been finally confirmed by the club. Here is a look at what he could do fo the team if he features on Sunday against Stoke.
First off, he will add a new face to the midfield, and his teammates, just like the supporters, will want to see what he can do with the ball at his feet. Since he is a midfielder, he likely will join the odd attack and get the ball in good positions, and he has proven before that he has put a ball in the top corner with power and pace from distance, based on the 10-15 minutes worth of his YouTube highlight videos that I have watched over the past week. Stoke’s goalkeeper, Jack Butland, is merely in his early twenties while he is in his first season as a full-time Premier League starter between the sticks, so Arsene Wenger will likely give Elneny something of a green light shot-wise for the match.
To stay with the offensive part of his skill set, supporters should not expect much in the way of the spectacular from the Egyptian while he has the ball at his feet. Slick skills can be left for players like Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez to do while it should be expected that Elneny will simply take care of the standard central midfielder responsibilities. Depending on who Arsene Wenger selects to start at centre forward, whether it be Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud, and even the unlikely choice of Alexis Sanchez, Elneny might surprise us with a nice through ball or two to set up a chance, especially if a more mobile forward such as Walcott or Alexis is starting in the centre.
Defensive output is the main reason that Wenger went for the 23-year-old, so anyone who watches the match should look toward the centre of the pitch when Stoke attack Arsenal as Elneny should be right in the middle of the Potters’ attacks, hopefully breaking them up in the process, just like the injured Francis Coquelin does when he is healthy and energised.
The match away to Stoke will be a bit of a precursor to what the rest of life without Coquelin will be like, and hopefully, the Gunners’ new addition plays with the same aggression as the Frenchman. Also, if he can make tackles while he breaks apart opposing attacks and make an outlet pass to start a counter attack once or twice during the match, fans should be ecstatic at such an early sign of maturity and poise in his first Premier League match.
Even if he does not feature at the Brittania, look for him to feature against Chelsea on the 24th January, you should watch out for all of the aforementioned traits and abilities that would be ideal in the north Londoners’ new defensive midfielder.