Club in a pseudo-crisis, biggest match of the year, one that decides if they can hold on to their slim title hopes, against their biggest rivals. Enter Mohammed Elneny. The 23-year-old Egyptian was handed his full Premier League debut against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday. He was given that mystical pivot role next to Frenchman Francis Coquelin. Fans have been clamouring for a replacement to the out of form Aaron Ramsey and they were granted one here (Ramsey wasn’t dropped but moved out to the right wing).
The Egyptian was quite serviceable. He came into the team and played his role to a good level. He was tidy in possession, completed more than 80% of his passes and shielded the back four well. His energy in the team was much needed, watching him chase down the Spurs back four in the first half and then sprint back to his position, he earned and deserved his plaudits. Most importantly, his defensive stability and partnership with Coquelin allowed Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, and even the out of form Aaron Ramsey to thrive. For once, the north London side did not look completely open after a forward run from the Welshman. Ramsey even found himself on the score sheet as a result of one of these runs. Elneny’s ability to maintain his defensive position and tidy distribution made his debut an effective one. Unfortunately, his day was ruined in the 55th minute when a rash tackle from Coquelin resulted in the Frenchman’s sending off. Elneny spent about 20 more minutes in the centre of the pitch next to Ramsey and then was later substituted for Olivier Giroud. This may have been in part due to fitness and also due to Wenger’s desire to push his players forward in search of an equaliser.
Twitter: @SantiClaus Mohamed Elneny’s game by numbers vs. Spurs:
80% pass accuracy
0 tackles won (@Squawka)
Overall, the general consensus is that the young Egyptian did well on his debut, while there are clear areas for improvement in his game such as his ability to win aerial duels and tidy up his tackling, for as long as Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere are sidelined, Elneny deserves a spot in the team over Ramsey in the middle of the park. This is a player bought for a reason and it is time he is given his chance.