Arsenal's Forgotten Man
Will Arsenal's midfield woes come back to haunt them?
Arsenal's injury struggles have been well-documented in recent history. It is a well-known fact that Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere are both injury-prone players who cannot be relied upon for an entire season of football. Although Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka have both cemented their positions in the new formation, many Arsenal fans believe that the Gunners are just one injury away from their yearly capitulation that usually occurs sometime around Christmas. However, one underutilized internal solution could be the answer to their midfield woes.
As Arsenal prepare for another season of the Premier League, all attention remains focused on their new star signing, Alexander Lacazette. The £46 million French superstar comes on the back of an excellent season with Lyon, where he scored 37 goals and helped his former club to the semi-finals of the Europa League. Sead Kolasinac, another new signing ignited raging interest among the Arsenal fans after a string of impressive performances during the pre-season.
Yet most critics and fans would agree that one area of the Arsenal squad that remains underwhelming and lacking depth is the central midfield position. Midfield talisman Santi Cazorla remains sidelined for an indefinite period. Jack Wilshere marks a return to his boyhood club after a loan spell at Bournemouth last year, where he failed to shine after putting a series of average performances throughout the year. Wilshere's injury record also makes him a risky and unreliable option to rely upon for the upcoming season. While Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka formed a formidable partnership at the end of last season with the 3-4-3 formation change, Granit Xhaka remains a new player to the league, having only one season in the Premier League under his belt. Ramsey, on the other hand, is prone to bouts of inconsistency and has struggled over the past three seasons with recurring hamstring injuries. Other options in the midfield also include Francis Coquelin, a solid squad players albeit with a very limited skill-set and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, a player who has primarily played on the wings throughout his entire career but fancies a run of game in central midfield. Although all these aforementioned players have great talent and promise, it is arguable that the Gunners are lacking midfield quality in numbers compared to other clubs like Manchester United and Manchester City. It seems highly unlikely for the Gunners to reinforce their central midfield given the number of midfielders on their book and L'Equipe claiming that the club would need to sell existing players before purchasing new additions due to FFP (Financial Fair Play) complications.
Did You Know?
Jack Wilshere played 27 times on loan for Bournemouth last season. He made as many appearances last season as his last three seasons at Arsenal combined!
The Forgotten Man: Mohamed El-Neny
However, during all these transfer talks and rumours, one player has been constantly shunned and overlooked by the media. Mohamed El-Neny is an Egyptian international who was purchased by Arsenal in January 2015 for £6 million from Basel. An experienced player at the ripe age of 25, El-Neny is a player with bags of technique and copious amounts of energy. He is renowned among Arsenal fans for his constant sprinting on the pitch and his selfless drive for the team. El-Neny also ranked among the top midfielders last season for having one of the highest pass completion rates in England. El-Neny, however, also has some attacking flair as he scored 5 goals in 27 games in his last six months at Basel. He also displayed his goalscoring prowess after scoring a brilliant strike against Barcelona at the Camp Nou. The Egyptian international has the ability to keep the play ticking with his passing ability and his ability to cover humongous amounts of distance per match offers Arsenal an extra competitive edge. However, the main reason why El-Neny could be the difference maker for Arsenal this season is because he has a point to prove. At the age of 25, El-Neny is just beginning to enter his prime and the following season could determine whether he can push on from the fringes to become a starting member at the club or end up fizzling into a permanent squad player at Arsenal. The following season or two should prove to be a real opportunity for El-Neny if he is to cement a starting XI berth at Arsenal.
Thus, while fans might be hoping for a marquee midfield signing by Arsene Wenger, it is quite possible that the solution to Arsenal's problem could be one overlooked diamond-in-the-rough from Egypt instead.
Where will Arsenal finish in the League this season?
© 2017 MohammedSajid