Mikel Arteta is in agreement with Arsenal legend Martin Keown over Mohamed Elneny after the midfielder’s impressive display against Chelsea.
Elneny, 29, was a substitute for 10 straight Premier League matches before being thrust into the starting lineup at Stamford Bridge. The Egypt international came in to replace Albert Sambi Lokonga due to the summer signing’s poor form.
Elneny operated well alongside fellow central midfielder Granit Xhaka, helping Arsenal to win 4-2 in the London derby.
Reacting to the decision from Arteta, Keown said: “It was the right call to bring Elneny into the team. Lokonga looks as if he is not quite ready, yet.
“They have an array of players, [Mateo] Guendouzi and [Lucas] Torreira are out on loan. Elneny is still here for a reason.
“Obviously, Arteta doesn’t quite believe in [Lokonga]. Lokonga hasn’t taken the opportunity, and Arteta has gone back to Elneny. I don’t think he has ever let Arteta down.”
Elneny could start again during Arsenal’s match against Manchester United at the Emirates on Saturday. Ahead of the game, Arteta lauded the player at a press conference.
Mikel Arteta joins in on Elneny praise
“I say that for me he’s one of the most important players in the squad,” Arteta said (via football.london). “He’s a phenomenal person and as well a great footballer that sometimes gets overlooked.”
English striker Eddie Nketiah also put on a show against Chelsea. He hit two goals to make it seven for the season in all competitions.
“It’s what he does all the time,” Arteta said of the 22-year-old. “He hasn’t had enough minutes to show what he can do.”
Bukayo Saka joined Nketiah on the scoresheet that night. He bagged a late penalty after being brought down by Cesar Azpilicueta in the box.
The winger kept his cool and finished past Edouard Mendy. Having missed the vital spot-kick in the European Championship final, it must have been a good feeling for him.
On Saka, Arteta continued: “What it tells me is that moment that he had and that experience that he had is over. He can take big decisions at big moments and that’s what I want.”
Centre-forward Alexandre Lacazette is recovering from Covid, which means he is a doubt for the clash this weekend.
“He trained yesterday and hopefully he will be feeling [okay] today,” Arteta remarked. “After Covid we have players that have struggled for weeks, [while] others have recovered quickly. Hopefully he can recover quickly.”