No Arsenal fan could have foreseen this coming.
Braced for a season with only a smattering of midfield talent – and indeed general numbers – the prospect of boasting just Mohamed Elneny, Granit Xhaka, Dani Ceballos and Joe Willock in that department until January at the earliest had Arsenal fans on tenterhooks.
The Egyptian failed to win over supporters since his move from Basel since 2016, featuring fleetingly across his four seasons prior before being loaned out to Besiktas last term. He returned to the fold with no buyers willing to take the punt and, truthfully, it was a blessing in disguise.
Far from an exceptional talent, he’s raised his game to new levels through sheer determination and more meticulous coaching to the point of winning over the less than impressed Gunners’ faithful. Here’s his quarterly report card.
Defying his critics in every way, all those who’ve doubted him have been served a generous slice of humble pie this season. A player without a progressive bone in his body, there’s now a greater emphasis on neater technical quality and positive distribution.
More agile in midfield, there are facets to his playing style that will have surprised many. Well, everyone, in fact.
Magnificent at Old Trafford and steady elsewhere, Elneny performs the simple tasks admirably, sprinkled with a dusting of dependability in previously untrodden territory.
There are off days, of course. Elneny’s limitations have been expanded, yet they can only go so far. While his overall game has been enhanced, everyone has a ceiling. Put in the manor of display he did against Manchester United and that ceiling never need worrying about, but Arsenal will need to call upon midfielders of a different ilk at points throughout the season where Elneny won’t be suited.
Can Arsenal rely on the 28-year-old to perform to such a standard over the course of a 38-game campaign? Likely not.
Best Moment – Giving Pogba the Runaround
Arsenal fans have rightly got carried away with the Old Trafford display – we were allowed to, in fairness – however, there is no amount of lyrical waxing that can be deemed excessive in terms of Elneny.
Well and by far his best Arsenal outing.
Mohamed Elneny’s Arsenal Rating