Mohamed Elneny arrives to fill the midfield gap + Arsecast 375

Good morning everyone, welcome to another Friday, but not just any Friday, oh no. Today is a Friday after a Thursday on which we signed a player. One of the best kind of Fridays ever, even if it is really really cold here today.

In typical Arsenal fashion, completely out of the blue and under the radar, the news dropped that we had signed Mohamed Elneny from FC Basel. BOOM. He arrives for a fee believed to be around £7m, no doubt with some add-ons, and ready to fill our midfield gap. All the hassles of visas are done and dusted, although apparently there’s still some paperwork that has to be filed before noon today if he’s to be eligible for Stoke on Sunday.

His arrival is timely, you’d probably say, as our midfield issues look like they need something different to what we have in order to solve them. Would Arteta for Flamini make things better? It’d be a risk, even if he is naturally a better fit with Ramsey than the Energy Saviour. Without ever really having seen Elneny play, I’m going out on a limb here to say that he has all the qualities we need to make our midfield functional again, and that he can slot in immediately without any period of adaptation and play to his highest level straight away. That’s what we should demand, right?

In seriousness though, there were some hints from the manager that he views the new man as somebody who can perform in couple of different positions, saying:

He can be box to box and be a holding midfielder so that is for us very promising. We wanted a versatile player and I wanted a player who can play defensively, but can as well play to box to box.

His strengths are his technical level, his vision, his intelligence, his disciplined attitude and his physical attitude to compete at a high level. I think he has the physical qualities to play at the top level.

You have to think that in the short-term at least, he’s going to be earmarked for a deeper role rather than one with more attacking ambition – that’s where the need is most pressing. There’s a nice profile piece on him in the Guardian here, which is worth a read, and the player himself spoke about his happiness at joining the club:

Arsenal is one of the world’s greatest teams, and I am very keen to participate positively with my new team, God willing, and to give my best for the team and for myself. Arsenal is one of those teams that everyone enjoys watching and of course I would love to play for such a great team.

He also sounds like a man with real ambition:

Arsenal is one the biggest clubs in the world, I know everything about it and its players. I would like to tell the fans that, although you have not seen much of me, I promise I will contribute positively with the team. I am hoping that we win the Premier League and cup this season, and the Champions League as well.

And once we win those, he will turn his attention to curing cancer, bringing about world peace and ridding society of its greatest menace, people who sit on buses and listen to music through the speaker of their phone rather than using headphones. I think we can all agree those people need to be sent to the salt mines at once.

So, it remains to be seen quite how quickly he’ll be given his debut – there are some suggestions the manager is thinking of putting him straight in against Stoke on Sunday – but it’s a positive move to get a player in relatively early in January (by our own standards anyway). Arsene will meet the press this morning, so no doubt we’ll have a clearer view of his intentions once they get the questions about world events out of the way and finish with their attempts to, even now, get him to call Jose Mourinho a twat.

Bonus reading: Arsenal’s Egyptian connections :: Obligatory Welcome Video

There’s other team news we need to get on top of too, most pressing of which is whether or not Alexis Sanchez will be involved on Sunday. It’s obvious we’re being super-cautious with them, and the manager referenced a fitness test today or tomorrow, but it’d be a welcome boost if he were able to play some part, at least, at the Brittania at the weekend. We’ll find out in due course.

Time now for this week’s Arsecast, and joining me to look back on the 3-3 draw with Liverpool is Amy Lawrence. We chat about the game, some individual performances, the midfield dysfunction, Joel Campbell’s emergence, Olivier Giroud’s striking and whether we might see Mohamed Elneny given a baptism of fire at Stoke. There’s a look ahead to the game against Stoke on Sunday, some Aaron Ramsey death base guff and all the usual waffle.

You can subscribe to the Arsecast on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download the Arsecast directly, use the link below the player, and if you are a regular listener via iTunes, if you would be so kind as to leave a review/rating that would be greatly appreciated.


You can find all the team news and everything else over on Arseblog News throughout the day, more from me tomorrow.

Until then, stay warm.

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Fan of Arsenal, Robert Pires and most everything to do with rum and whiskey. Writer, podcaster, ace flintknapper, sluggish centre-half. Smiter of those that ought to be smote.