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Is Elneny’s time at the Emirates coming to an end?

By Jahid Islam

Hello, readers of We Love You Arsenal! I’m Jahid (@JahidFullStop) with an article on a peripheral player propelled into the starting XI in three huge games, and who returned a trio of efficient performances in the centre of that midfield. Of course I’m talking about our Egyptian Engine… the Ramadan Ruud Gullit…. the central midfield-a from El Mahalla el Kubra (yes I did read his wikipedia page)! If you haven’t clocked by now, I’m on about Mohamed Elneny.

More specifically, I’ll be asking whether or not I think his recent performances have warranted a contract extension that’s been touch-and-go prior to those games against Yanited and Chelski. What does it mean for the direction of ‘the rebuild’ to retain such an inconsistent player? Is it worth clinging onto a near 30-year-old midfielder as opposed to giving a younger player like Sambi Lokonga more opportunities? Pull up a chair folks, and grab a strong cup of tea, unless you’re fasting, that is.

Alright, so first things first. When we signed Elneny from FC Basel, I was in year 9 at secondary school. That was back in 2016. Fucking hell. For reference, I’ll list some shit that happened all the way back then:

  • Remember the Zika virus? Yeah, that was knocking about back then. Thankfully there hasn’t been a major virus outbreak since then that’s made the last 3 years a living hell. I’m crying inside right now. And that’s not a self-isolation joke.

  • Rodrigo Duterte was elected president of the Philippines. Interesting, innit? He’s the guy who’s been sending death squads around to kill drug addicts, dealers, and any criminals. Safe to say, human rights ain’t high on his to do list.

  • Brexit. And life’s been peachy since then. I will remain apolitical.

  • The Donald got elected over in ‘Murica. ‘Bigly’. ‘Ghina’.

  • And to bring it back to Socc… sorry, football, Siu-R7 won his first international trophy with Portugal at the Euros, beating the Frenchies in the final, in their backyard.

Yet since signing for us, Elneny’s made just 140 appearances, with 43 of those coming off the bench. That’s an average of about 21 games a season in all competitions. For comparison, Xhaka’s managed 105 more, and in half a season less.

His inconsistency is what makes watching Elneny so, so frustrating. There’ll be some games in which he’s superb, such as against Chelsea wherein Partey’s absence was barely felt. But in the same 90mins, he’ll have some instances which leave you utterly bewildered, and not in a good way. Like when your crisps gets stuck in the vending machine (rue story). On both occasions, I was left very confused.

Credit where credit’s due, the kid’s got a set of legs on him. Actually, he’s nearly 30, calling him a kid is grossly inaccurate. Anyway, he can run around and press like a motherfucker, which obviously has its advantages. But other than that, I don’t see a blatantly obvious reason for keeping him around except for the fact that its better than playing Ødegaard there. Whilst Sambi’s got a lot of potential, I wouldn’t trust him with the keys to that midfield at this stage, and it troubles me that we’ve had to give them to Mo, a position so pivotal to the entire system that ‘Teta’s constructed.

To extend his contract beyond June 2022 for anything other than the preservation of his market value would be, in my humble opinion, a serious misstep from the higher ups at Arsenal. I’d lump Elneny in with the likes of Cedric, Pepe (don’t murder me Pepe-stans), and maybe even Lacazette to some extent; they’re all players who’ve clearly had and still have good performances under their belts, but over-relying on them is a potentially fatal miscue that could derail an entire campaign.

However, until a leggy, neat in possession, 3rd choice central midfielder can be signed, I don’t see Elneny leaving anytime soon. There’s nothing that can be done, just like when my hula hoops got lodged between the peanuts and the M&Ms. I still haven’t gotten over it. I know you’re not supposed to, but I tried shaking the machine and banging on the glass, but to no avail.

Getting back on topic, Elneny clearly leaves it all, no matter how shit it may be, on the pitch, which is clearly a sign of ‘pashun and desiyah’. That alone could be enough for Mikel to keep him round for another year or two, but this isn’t Year 5 sports day. There’s no trophy for participation, and the stakes are way too high to gamble it all on individuals with such variability in performance. In the immortal words of Claude, ‘IT’S TIIIIIME TO GOOOOOOO’.

I’ve been Jahid, @JahidFullStop, for WLYAblog! Thanks for reading, let me know your thoughts, and I’ll catch you in the next one. Ba-Bye!

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