Why Mohamed Elneny started over Sambi Lokonga in Arsenal’s defeat to Man United
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has provided an explanation for his decision to hand Mohamed Elneny a surprise start in the club’s meeting with Manchester United this evening.
Smith Rowe & Odegaard not enough
The Gunners marked their return to action a short time ago.
After bouncing back from a first defeat since August courtesy of a 2-0 downing of Newcastle at the weekend, Arteta and co. tonight made the trip to Old Trafford for a Premier League showdown with Manchester United.
Arsenal were no doubt aware ahead of kick-off that a victory would have seen them climb clear of capital rivals West Ham, and into the English top-flight’s top-4.
When all was said and done, however, the visitors, ultimately, were put to the sword by an under-manned United outfit.
Both Emile Smith Rowe and Martin Odegaard did manage to find the target, but Bruno Fernandes’ strike on the stroke of the interval, followed by a 2nd-half brace from Cristiano Ronaldo, saw the Red Devils come away with all three points in Michael Carrick’s final game in charge.
COOL. CALM. CRISTIANO.
Ronaldo smashes Man Utd into the lead from the spot! #PLonPrime #MUNARS pic.twitter.com/lJBCwFzOoS
— Amazon Prime Video Sport (@primevideosport) December 2, 2021
‘The way he plays’
Amid an overall disappointing performance on Arsenal’s part at Old Trafford, one area of the pitch highlighted as a major problem area post-match has been the middle of the park.
This comes with Thomas Partey having again majorly flattered to deceive, in a midfield pairing with Mohamed Elneny.
The latter’s inclusion from the off on Thursday raised more than a few eyebrows ahead of kick-off, though Elneny, to his credit, was actually one of the Gunners’ better performers over the course of the 90 minutes.
Nevertheless, speaking in his post-match interview, Mikel Arteta was drawn on his decision to make use of the Egyptian over Sambi Lokonga, after the Belgian excelled in a starring display versus Newcastle just days ago.
And the Arsenal boss went on to cite Elneny’s ‘experience’ under the bright lights in Manchester, as well as his recent efforts in training, as key:
Arteta on Elneny over Sambi:
I think we need a player with the experience that has played here in that arena, that was incredibly good last year when he played. The way he’s been training, the way he plays and because I believe sometimes we have to do tough things for the game.
— Kaya Kaynak (@kayakaynak97) December 2, 2021
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