It’s Marseille, Leipzig or Red Bull Salzburg, and Mo Elneny is nowhere near good enough

By Tony Attwood

According to a number of reports on last night’s game Arsenal were out and just sneaked back in.

It is quite hard to collate that with winning 6-3 overall, but that is the way it was presented on Radio 5.  It was a curious point: somehow Arsenal were out, and only by the sneaky underhand approach of using the last 15 minutes of normal time and spot of added time to score two goals (a dirty trick if ever there was one) did Arsenal go through.  Just.  6-3.

As one headline (this from the Telegraph) puts it “Danny Welbeck stops the rot as Arsenal survive early scare to stumble into Europa League semi-finals.”   So a 6-3 stumble.

A similar approach would be to suggest that if a team scores a winning goal in the third minute of injury time in a league match, to increase their points take from the game from one to three, that is cheating.  But it wasn’t even that.  We stumbled through 6-3.

There were just two periods in this two-legged affair in which CSKA were going through, during the period when it was 1-1 at the Ems and between the 51st and 76th minutes in Russia.  All the rest of the time it was either unclear who would win (as when the first game kicked off for example) or it was Arsenal.

And yet “Arsenal’s Europa League dream lives on – just” and “Danny Welbeck stops the rot.”

But let’s move on to the man who gave the pass that led to the goal that “stopped the rot”.  Mo Elneny.  Who was also the man of the match by some reckonings.  The man who was described on TV by Paul Merson as “Nowhere near good enough”  when he was signed.

On 8 March 2017 the Telegraph was back on the theme, having moderated it a little to say the jury was “still out” on whether he was “good enough for Arsenal.”

In November 2017 Martin Keown called Elneny “almost a passenger”.  On 20 January 2018 there was one those little twitter outrages that the media love to encourage (so the journalist can just copy twitter gibber and not bother about writing a proper story).  HITC reported twits (sorry tweets, although twits is probably right) saying

  • Elneny is the worst, don’t think he ever makes a forward pass
  • Elneny is garbage!!!
  • I could have played Elneny’s role today. Passing sideways and receiving clearances on the half way line ain’t hard when your 4-0 after 20 mins.

Not everyone agreed, as one reader twotted

  • Great performance but Elneny was my Man of the Match today. He was bossing that midfield like he owned it

To which the reply came in

  • Why aren’t we selling welbeck n elneny

Which is interesting give that at one point last night Welbeck “latched on to a wonderful Mohamed Elneny pass to finish calmly 15 minutes from time.”   And indeed Elneny won the man of the match award in some quarters for last night’s display.

It is, perhaps, fortunate that journalists and twotters don’t run the club.

The other teams through are Marseille who were behind in the first leg, Red Bull Salzburg who scored four in 20 minutes to knock out Lazio and of course Atlético Madrid who lost to Sporting Lisbon on the night.

The draw is today.  Here is the Spanish table

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 31 24 7 0 79 16 +63 79
2 31 20 8 3 51 15 +36 68
3 31 20 5 6 59 31 +28 65
4 31 19 7 5 77 34 +43 64
5 31 15 4 12 52 53 -1 49
And in France (it’s tight at the top!!!)
Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 32 27 3 2 96 22 +74 84
2 32 21 7 4 77 34 +43 70
3 32 18 9 5 69 36 +33 63
4 32 18 9 5 64 38 +26 63
5 32 13 8 11 41 38 +3 47

And finally Austria

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 29 19 8 2 61 20 +41 65
2 29 18 3 8 54 36 +18 57
3 29 13 10 6 51 33 +18 49
4 29 14 6 9 40 30 +10 48
5 29 14 4 11 51 49 +2 46

Atlético Madrid are the clear favourites and Arsenal the second favourites to win the competition.  Arsenal have lost the same number of league games this season as all the others put together but it is interesting that Arsenal has scored more goals than any of the other three teams in the finals.  But then we have also let in more too.

Anyway, some of the supporters who twit have been shown to be twits but have quickly forgotten their attacks on Elneny and now moved on to Jack Wilshere.  It’s a short life, being a football hero.



20 Replies to “It’s Marseille, Leipzig or Red Bull Salzburg, and Mo Elneny is nowhere near good enough”

  1. Quite right about the know-alls actually knowing f-all Tony. That’s why they aren’t managers it’s just amazing that they think they know better than highly, experienced professionals!

    My other point echoes your views about how we “stumbled” into the semi-finals. I thought we were under the cosh for a while last night and it certainly wasn’t comfortable at 2-0 down. Nonetheless, if any other team had come back to 2-2 away from home in Europe it would have been, “digging in”, “grinding out a result”, “showing resilience”, “taking advantage”, “splendid counter-attacking”, “never say die attitude”. But you’re right, we’re just lucky……………apparently.

  2. El Neny has always been a solid player.

    The media take on last night was utterly predictable. They’re gutted Arsenal went through.

    Atleti scraped through yet they are untouchable. Of course we will draw them in the semi final and the hacks will rub their hands with glee. Wish it was glue.

    Thanks Tony.

  3. Doesn’t really matter how you paint it, until the final flurry we were on rocky ground. We didn’t look fluent and were second place all over the pitch. To deny that is to not only have a glass that’s full but to have beer all over the counter too.
    As a club , a group whatever , we seem to have a psychological problem of being ahead and it gets worse the further we go. When we have teams on the ropes we drop into a superior passing mode and fail to press our advantage. I suppose our performance at home illustrates this .4-1 up at half time and we pass the game out and don’t play with the same intensity in the second half ,where certainly another couple would have made the trip to Moscow irrelevant . As it was it left everyone including the manager biting their nails for the first hour and a bit throughout last nights effort.
    Until we learn to go at teams when we have them down we will repeat this performance time and time again . The teams we play are of a high standard and if you drop your guard they will hurt you . Too often we get into the mindset of being superior and drop down a level and frequently we get caught out in the process. ,

  4. Putting aside what the media said for a while Wenger himself said:
    ‘If you look well at the game again, we were in trouble in the first half. Once we moved to a five we looked much more stable and didn’t give so many chances away. The second goal comes from a long distance shot but in the box we didn’t give anything away anymore.’
    I was always confident that we’d score at some point to make the game safe, but we do do things in an arse about fashion sometimes don’t we, but with the match long hard running of Elneny, Ramsey & Welbeck we were always going to be the stronger later in the game.
    The Mail typically showed a photo of a fan with one of those ‘Wenger Out’ banners, but didn’t mention that it was a CSKA supporter.

  5. Well, then Ronaldo stopped the rot and Real Madrid just sneaked into CL semin-finals like burglars….

  6. Elneny is so useful for us. In my opinion he should be a starter whenever we play a back 4. Xhaka, who seems to be our preferred player to protect our back 4, isn’t anywhere near him defensively. Wilshere, despite all his will power, looses the ball going into dead ends to often. A little bit like Sanchez did.
    Elnenys sublime passes, also shows he is not all about sideways passing. He just doesn’t take too much risk. And that imo, is perfect for someone in that position.

  7. There was no point in Russia they were going through! It was 4-3 until we scored.

  8. Both the passes by Elneny which set up our two goals where Ozil quality and that is the highest praise we can give.
    Once again both goals we conceded could have been avoided, the first whilst being a good save initially Cech should not have presented a second chance on the follow up. I know it is being ultra critical but a top goalie would have diverted the ball away from the danger area. Furthermore our defenders didn’t react either, all standing like statues, unlike the Russian who quickly pounced on the loose ball. The second goal was much the same, Cech again making the save but presenting the follow up on a plate to the opposition.
    Once again we were guilty of handing out two goals to the opposition which should have been prevented. It has happened time after time this season, rarely do we concede a goal resulting from our opponents good play, they are usually as a rersult of a defensive balls up. Untill this is sorted we will not be challenging for a strong league challenge.
    I would love to know how many goals we have conceded this season due to our own errors, does anyone have any idea?

  9. I always thought that we would be great in ‘dead rubber’ games , as mostly any 3 goal leads are. We were oft reminded of this in one of the Bayern CL games when we won 2-0 there.

    But after the collapse of Barca and the almost near tragedy of Real Madrid , it may not be enough .Was this in the back of the minds of our players ? Adding to the cold and hostile Russian reception.

    And the scores in the other Europa QF games shows that its not really over until some rotund person of the female persuasion sings, or failing which, Paul Merson squeals !

    We were admittedly not on our usual game and we were on shaky ground after their second goal , but I was always confident that we would score at least once.True class will show .

  10. When others play rubbish and still win, they are shoeing the character of great teams. When Arsenal play rubbish and they win, they are not good enough.

    Why don’t they EVER see anything good in thus team?

    I hope we ‘scrape through’ to win the cup and give some people nightmares.

    Now, where is Bricksfield when you need him to help rub it in?

  11. I almost looked over my shoulder when I saw your comment AFTER mine. That was scary my friend!

    How did you know I was going to ask for you to help rub yesterday’s triumph in? Telepathy or what?


  12. @Stan the man – can you name the teams please? I think because there is a psychological problem at Arsenal.

  13. Atletico are beatable, ask Sporting.All that sideline shouting doesnt mean too much when your out there. Time for us to stop being scared, even if their manager is the darling of the Wob.
    Q is can Mhiki get back for the second leg?

  14. @Cyrano. If it’s Atletico that Arsenal got, then, I suspect the semi-finals draw was fixed to follow most Gooners bandwagon apathy but excluding me who have been thinking if Atletico Madrid play against Arsenal in the semi-final, they’ll knock us out.

    But how wrong can they be, for, have these Gooners forgotten that Atletico are not unbeatable? They are certainly a beatable side. Despite their currently being 2nd in the La Liga table does not mean they’ll stop Arsenal at the semi-final stage who are currently 6th in the EPL table. On the contrary, I do believe with all the Arsenal beliefs in me that Arsenal will be the team that will eventually knocked out Atletico Madrid to reach the final and win the Cup for us at the very end of Arsenal season campaign. Cyrano, if according to how you stated the names of the 2 teams in your comment is followed. Then, I assumed Arsenal will first play Atletico at the Ems with the second leg at Atletico. Right? But even then, I am strongly of the belief that believes Arsenal can and will knock out Atletico Madrid without suffering a defeat in the 2 legged semi-final clash.

  15. Yep Sam, London home, Madrid away. Fingers crossed we’ll beat them over two legs (or pray like hell to the almighty Ref). I do think the team would be up for it, but qualify w.o a defeat, I do not think. 2-0, 1-2?

    If we *do* beat them, does that mean the clamors for Simeone as the solution to all our problems would stop? Even if we win the thing, it would be ‘go away on a high’ etc etc

  16. We are who we are, warts and all. If Atletico are favoured, who cares? We know how Atletico plays…hard challenges everywhere…a bit like that lot up Seven Sisters. A lot will depend on how it is called by the 3rd team on pitch. But, hey, they are beatable. I find it curious that more people don’t adopt the fortress mentality when the media attack us. The 5th columnists will be out in force come the next round. (And, yes, I see the historical connections)

  17. Q is can Mhiki get back for the second leg?

    Or Costa ? I think we can win at home but will need to be more organised in Madrid . Sloppy defending will invite Greizmann and Costa if fit and they are both fairly reasonable finishers. They score goals but don’t let many in , their average this season is 1 goal against every two games in la liga and scored 1.26 approx. A win followed by a strong defensive performance that catches them on the break could well see us in Lyon.

    Probably the best yardstick for us is that they lost 2-1 to Chelsea at home but got a 1 -1 at the Bridge. going to be tight I reckon.

  18. (Grain of salt)
    Express explaining Wenger saying Mkhitaryan to return for Atletico 1st leg.


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