Mohamed Elneny Is Finally Producing His Best Form for Arsenal

It's taken six years, one loan move, three managers and almost 100 games, but Mohamed Elneny is finally producing the sort of displays many Arsenal fans hoped he was capable of.

The Egypt international was instrumental on Sunday as the Gunners finally ended their run of 29 league games away to the traditional 'big six' without a victory, beating Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford.

On the day, Elneny was as steady as can be, offering hope - perhaps - that alongside Thomas Partey, he can finally help Arsenal's soft underbelly toughen up.

Elneny and his current boss lined up together at Arsenal during Arteta's playing days | PAUL CHILDS/Getty Images

Since his arrival in the winter of 2016, several central midfielders have departed north London, including Lucas Torreira, Matteo Guendouzi, Jack Wilshere and Francis Coquelin. All four showed promise at times, but failed to consistently impose themselves on proceedings.

They exemplify the notion of the last decade or so that Arsenal play attractive attacking football at the expense of a stable defence and solid midfield, ultimately leading to tough viewing when it comes to looking at the end of season Premier League table.

During the first half of Arsene Wenger's reign, there was a beautiful balance of skill, technical ability and a steely toughness that made them almost impossible to defeat. At the heart of proceedings was a midfield that encompassed all of those attributes.

And while the direct parallels to Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit and co. are extremely premature, the qualities that Elneny and Partey produced over the weekend certainly encapsulated all that has been missing in the Arsenal engine room since their departure.

Other midfielders such as Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi have struggled to make a long-term impact at Arsenal | Visionhaus/Getty Images

Martin Keown, a former Arsenal man who epitomised their previous rugged and resolute nature, was also impressed with what he saw from Arteta's new-look midfield:, remarking to BBC Sport: "It was in midfield where Arsenal took control of the game, and that was mainly down to Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny.

"The Gunners have struggled in that area in the past, but Partey is looking like a very good signing and Elneny has made such an improvement that it feels like he is a new addition too. Elneny appeared to be on his way out of the club before Arteta took charge at the end of last year. I like the way Arteta has given him another opportunity – and also how the Egyptian has taken it."

The 28-year-old spent last season on loan at Turkish giants Besiktas before returning to resurrect his Arsenal career. Nobody would have batted an eyelid had Arteta shown Elneny the door over the summer, but his early-season displays have already indicated his growing importance to the Spaniard.

Arsenal's number 25 has featured nine times in 2020/21, losing only one of those matches - the Gunners have lost twice more without him in the side. After several years of struggles in the English capital, Elneny is making himself almost undroppable.

His relentless pressing in the dying embers of the match at Old Trafford forced Victor Lindelof to relinquish possession and summarised everything he brings to this Arsenal side. A work rate, passion and desire to fight for the shirt that has been missing in the club's more 'luxurious' players in recent times combined with a game intelligence and quality needed at the highest level.

The Emirates has always been home to exciting players capable of show-stopping moments in the final third. Samir Nasri, Alexis Sanchez and now Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Willian and Bukayo Saka produce the memorable highlight reel flicks, tricks and finishes.

Arsenal finally have balance in their squad not just flair players | BEN STANSALL/Getty Images

But now it's the stomping ground of a player who takes as much pride in frustrating the opposition and keeping a clean sheet as a striker does in scoring a goal. Every side needs at least one of those players, and Arsenal had been missing such a figure for too long; they just didn't realise over the past few years that they may already have the solution.

Source : 90min