At the moment, everything seems to be going rather swimmingly for Arsenal. Top of the Premier League by 2 points having battled through the ever-tedious Christmas period, lasted through their supposed “injury crisis” where many key players picked up injuries (as if it comes as a surprise for Arsenal fans?), and now into a new year filled with hopes, dreams and possibly premature title fantasies.
Things don’t seem to be slowing down for Arsene Wenger’s side either, with key players such as Alexis Sanchez, Francis Coquelin, Danny Welbeck and Jack Wilshere all planned to return from injury within weeks, hopefully providing that much needed boost for the final leg of the marathon that could, potentially, end in a well-deserved, much needed Premier League title making its way to the Emirates Stadium for the first time.
Wil-shere Hell: Wilshere’s battle with injuries have summed up Arsenal’s recent troubles in the medical room.
To add to the good news for Arsenal fans, Arsene Wenger, usually a silent assassin in the transfer market, has changed his game and admitted it will be a busy month for him, claiming that the Gunners are “a bit short, especially in Midfield.”
Lead the way for one Mohamed Elneny. The 23 year old Egyptian Midfielder has been very heavily linked with the North London side recently, with some reports even going as far to say that he’s already signed, and are just waiting on him to receive his work permit to allow the move.
Overdue: Is Elneny the player that Arsenal fans have been crying out for since last Summer?
But who is Mohamed Elnany? And how does he compare to Arsenal’s current Midfielders?
Mohamed Naser Elsayed Elneny was born in July 1992. His football career started out with Egyptian side El Ahly, before transferring to El Makowloon, where he continued his youth career, and broke into the senior side. After being watched by Basel for some time during his spell with El Makowloon, Elneny made the switch to the Swiss side in 2013, originally as a loan, but the deal was made permanent at the end of the season after the Egyptian helped Basel to win the Swiss Super League Title 2012/13. 3 years and 3 successive Championship titles later, Elneny is heavily tipped to become Arsenal’s first signing of 2016.
But how does he compare with Arsenal’s current crop of Midfielders?
Elneny is considered by many to be a Box-to-Box Midfielder, very similar to what the Gunners have with players like Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla. Squawka.com offer statistics from Elnany’s first 5 Europa League games with Basel this season.
Looking at key stats such as Total Passes, Successful Passes, Key Passes and Chances Created, on an average per 90 minute game, we can see that Elneny clearly surpasses both Ramsey and Cazorla in the Total Passes and Successful passes categories, but is however trailing when it comes to Chance Creation and Key Passes.
However, the Egyptian International can also play the Defensive Midfielder role, and this is the position that Wenger has been heavily criticized for not investing in during the Summer transfer window. Despite the delightfully surprising turn of form for Francis Coquelin, going from deadwood to a fans favourite in the space of a few months, it was clear to see that if the Frenchman suffered an injuries throughout the season, it would be a huge blow for the Gunners, with Mathieu Flamini providing little in terms of solidarity at the back that Premier League Champions need.
Using Squawka, we can compare the performances of Elneny, Coquelin and Flamini in key areas for the Defensive Midfielder position such as Successful Passes, Interceptions, Tackles Won, and Percentage of Total Duels Won, over the course of an average 90 minutes.
As shown in the comparison, Francis Coquelin quite clearly outshines both Flamini and Elneny in all categories apart from Successful Passes, where Elneny nearly doubles Coquelins average per game. However, what is interesting to see is that Elneny is relatively close behind Coquelin in all of the categories he trails in, and both players are a vast improvement of Flamini’s performances this season.
Considering Elneny is currently playing in a free role at Basel, where he is playing an almost Box-to-Box Midfielder role. Could a more restricted, defensive role at Arsenal bring out the very best in Elneny? Is he the solution to our lack of depth problems? Stats show that he’d be a fantastic back-up to Coquelin, and if Arsene Wenger can work out a way to play the pair together, there is no reason that they can’t provide a whole new level to Arsenal’s game.
But I’ll leave it to you, the fans, to decide. Comment below your opinions on this post and of the possibility of Elneny’s arrival at the Emirates, and I’ll leave you this video of his performances so far this season.