The first game of Arsenal’s Premier League season taught us all some lessons. Apart from the obvious fact that Manchester City are by far and away the strongest team and Arsenal are still light years behind, the most interesting talking points came from the midfield. Matteo Guendouzi needs refining but clearly has huge potential, and Lucas Torreira should start. But the strength of the new boys and their strain on the wage bill spells trouble for the likes of Mohamed Elneny.
Linked with a move away after three seasons with the club, Marseille are rumoured to be interested in signing the Egyptian. With the transfer window still open on the continent, our tactical analysis has a look at the statistics and whether Elneny has a future with the Gunners, or if the club should sell another midfielder.
Perfect in Possesion, Dreadful in Defence
What Arsenal have lacked since the glory days of Patrick Viera and Manu Petit is a solid midfield duo who provide cover for the back four. The club has never been short of creative, eye-catching playmakers which is why neutrals and fans of other clubs have respected Arsenal’s style of play before the wheels well and truly came off in recent years.
Now in the Unai Emery era, the glaring weaknesses are still the defence and the defensive ability of the midfield. Elneny’s statistics are symptomatic of this, winning just 0.45 tackles per 90 as a defensive midfielder. It’s almost embarrassingly low, especially when compared to the much-maligned Granit Xhaka, who averaged more than three times as many.
Elneny fares better when it comes to interceptions, winning 1.13 per 90, but is still low when compared to the defensive midfielders of other top Premier League clubs, who manage between 2 to 3 per game.
Most frustratingly for Arsenal fans, Elneny comes out worst for defensive errors, averaging 0.23 per 90. It is these needless mistakes which has defined Arsenal recently, going from a fixable problem to the norm.
In ppossession Elneny is vastly improved, averaging 87.74 passes per 90 with an accuracy of 94%, but with only one assist last season, many of these passes are sideways and lack any penetrative threat. Granted, Elneny only played 13 times last season, but the most damning statistic of the whole tactical analysis is that Granit ‘more bookings than passes’ Xhaka was preferred last year, playing 38 times.
Mohamed Elneny is a player many Arsenal fans would be sad to see go due to his work rate and passion for the team, but in reality, the statistics of our tactical analysis show that for all the running he does, he simply isn’t of the quality Arsenal need if they are to improve under Emery.