What do Arsenal have to do to get a good press? Play Partey and Elneny

by Tony Attwood

Whichever way you look at it, Arsenal are currently outdoing Manchester United.  We are unbeaten in the last five Premier League games against them, winning three, drawing two.  Is that not worth a mention?

Apparently not, because the Guardian in its report of yesterday’s match still needed to paint a negative.  “It means the Gunners have a first Premier League victory at Manchester United since 2006,” they said grudgingly, as it seemed to me.  Yes that is true, but why pick that rather than highlighting the much more contemporary point that Manchester United have not beaten Arsenal in the league since the 2017/18 season?

Or lets try another: since 2014 Manchester United and Arsenal have played each other 14 times. 12 of those games have been in the Premier League and two in the FA Cup.  Now judging by all the commentaries before the game, and indeed that Guardian piece after the game, you’d be excused from thinking that Arsenal are hammered time after time.   So what would you go for: 12 wins for Man U?  Or maybe just 10 for Man U? Here is the answer:

  • 6 wins for Arsenal
  • 4 wins for Manchester United
  • 4 Draws.

And if you are a newspaper or blog reader, or a viewer of TV channels that cover football, you would excused for not believing me, because of the incredible negative headlines and commentary from the media.   Well, here’s the list…

Date Game Res Score Competition
9 Mar 2015 Manchester United v Arsenal W 1-2 FA Cup
17 May 2015 Manchester United v Arsenal D 1-1 Premier League
04 Oct 2015 Arsenal v Manchester United W 3-0 Premier League
28 Feb 2016 Manchester United v Arsenal L 3-2 Premier League
19 Nov 2016 Manchester United v Arsenal D 1-1 Premier League
07 May 2017 Arsenal v Manchester United W 2-0 Premier League
02 Dec 2017 Arsenal v Manchester United L 1-3 Premier League
29 Apr 2018 Manchester United v Arsenal L 2-1 Premier League
05 Dec 2018 Manchester United v Arsenal D 2-2 Premier League
25 Jan 2019 Arsenal v Manchester United L 1-3 FA Cup
10 Mar 2019 Arsenal v Manchester United W 2-0 Premier League
30 Sep 2019 Manchester United v Arsenal D 1-1 Premier League
01 Jan 2020 Arsenal v Manchester United W 2-0 Premier League
01 Nov 2020 Manchester United v Arsenal W 0-1 Premier League

To my surprise it is the Daily Mail who point out what has been going on…

“Paul Pogba got the wrong side of Hector Bellerin, and Manchester United served up their fifth penalty in seven home league games.

“Prior to that, it had taken them 101 league matches to have the same number given against them at Old Trafford. Bit hard to argue the effects of having no fans in the stadium with numbers like that. Either Manchester United have become exceptionally clumsy since lockdown, or referees didn’t like getting on the wrong side of 75,000 locals any more than we thought they did.”

It is not quite how Untold has been expressing it – we’ve used the academic studies of referee behaviour in the Premier League – but we accept the point.   Who’d have thought it?  The Mail and Untold in harmony over the behaviour of referees.  I wonder why the Guardian still sticks to their solid view that there is nothing wrong with refereeing in the Premier League.

So what was the cause of our improvement?  For once it is not Untold on its own putting forward the answer to a conundrum, for others agree.   We’ve got Partey and Elneny.

Now just in case you think I’m jumping upon the bandwagon at this point I would respectfully refer you back to my commentaries on Elneny

“Elneny: I thought he was very good in Barcelona, but he’s just getting better each game – and making the fee we paid for him look ludicrous.   I really believe this guy is going to be the heart beat of the team for the next few years.  And he’s still only 23.” That was 5 April 2016

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

Moving on…

13 April 2018: .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.”

In the build up to this season we were perhaps alone (or at least one of the few) in highlighting the return of Elneny and in our article on 15 September noted that even the Guardian had turned things around and announced…

“Elneny looks ready for top flight.”

Now, months behind the times as ever, Football.London is saying “Arsenal legend Gilberto Silva has praised the Gunners for picking up a big win at Manchester United, and says that the midfield duo of Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny “look like a powerful partnership”.

The Boot Room said, “The Egyptian has worked his way back into Arteta’s plans this season, and his showing against the Red Devils was finest this term.  He worked brilliantly as a unit with Partey, and the pair came in for praise from Arsenal Invincible Gilberto Silva after the game.  The Brazilian former midfield enforcer wrote on Twitter: “3 huge points. Elneny and Partey look like a powerful partnership. Congratulations @Arsenal.”

It was interesting that as the season started and Elneny turned up in the pre-season games I mentioned a few times how he had developed.   On 26 August we said, “everyone seemed surprised to find that Mohamed Elneny can and does play well.”

Now I don’t like to crow… oh actually I do.  Especially when against massed opposition I ventured the view four years ago.

1-0 to untold.


3 huge points. Elneny and Partey look like a powerful partnership. Congratulations @Arsenal

— Gilberto Silva (@GilbertoSilva)


13 Replies to “What do Arsenal have to do to get a good press? Play Partey and Elneny”

  1. I shared a few stats about Mike Dean’s refereeing Arsenal games (source: Transfermarkt) and it seems to me that it was not so much Mike Dean v Arsenal FC as much as it was Mike Dean v Arsene Wenger.

    Dean has given seven penalties to Arsenal since 2000-01. Four of those since Wenger’s departure (Spurs 2018-19, Cardiff 2018-19, Watford 2019-20, Man United 2020-21). So, he has already given us more penalties since Wenger’s departure (we have played 83 league games since Wenger’s departure) than in 18 seasons prior to it (we had played 684 league games between 2000-01 and 2017-18). Aubameyang has converted all three penalties given to us by Dean in the post-Wenger era.

    His penalty record against us stands at nine. Seven of nine were given during Wenger’s era while the remaining two were given in matches Dean had given a penalty to us before it (Spurs 2018-19, Watford 2019-20).

    In the context of two yellows for red cards, it’s worth mentioning he gave three red cards to Arsenal after two yellows – Eboue v Spurs at WHL (2008-09), Wilshere v United at Old Trafford (2012-13) and Cazorla v Chelsea at SB (2015-16). Last night, he could have booked Gabriel for his second yellow card offence. If either SAF had been in charge of United or if the crowd had been allowed in, he’d have booked him.

    For those who like trivia…

    1) This was the first league victory for Arsenal at Big Six (or, as I call it, Big Five Plus Spurs) since 2015 when we won in Manchester (against City) with Dean in charge and with our first goal coming from a penalty (converted by Cazorla) after a foul on a Spanish full-back (Monreal).

    2) This was the first league victory for Arsenal at Old Trafford since 2006 when we won 1-0 with a second half goal that came after a former Barcelona youngster created a goal for our African striker which last name begins with “A” and in which our German goalkeeper kept a clean sheet. We played in white shirts back then as well, Solskjaer played for Man United and saw his last-minute chance (the best one for United on that day) saved by our German goalkeeper.

  2. I have never understood the negativity towards Elneny. Really pleased to see him being rightly praised for his role in yesterday’s win. Quite nice to see Gilberto commenting about the midfield performance after discussing with a friend some post match comments comparing Partey with Viera and stating that I thought Partey was more Gilberto like in his performance. In the German commentary we did not hear much of his name but both he and Mo knew what to do and when to do it. Is Partey perhaps the next silent wall?

  3. I saw the problem of Arsenal over reliance on Aubameyang for scoring goals in the PL for the club. But he has not disappointmented as he has delivered for Arsenal for the past two seasons running by scoring goals in the PL for the club in their numbers.

    Which culminated to him winning the golden boot award in 2018-2019 season but jointly with two other players playing at a different club side. And he narrowly missed out on winning the award again last season when he was piped to it by the eventual winner in the player of Jamie Vardy of Leicester City who got the award awarded to on the 23 goals tally he scored for his club in the PL to Aubameyang’s 22 for Arsenal, which was a repeat of the total goals he scored for the club the previous season in the PL.

    But this season in the PL, teams have appeared to have find a way to stop Aubameyang from scoring goals for Arsenal in the regularity that he used to score for them in the last 2 seasons. A situation that saw him misfiring for the club scoring only twice in his 7 PL outings as he struggled to find his bearing.

    I had during the last summer transfer window advocated for the signing by Arsenal of a top quality senior top club team striker of a proven over 20 goals per season goals scorer at the top level of the game like Danny Ings at Southampton has been doing.

    Who if he’s signed by Arsenal last summer widow for option and cover, will be complementing the goals scoring efforts of Auba, Laca and Nketiah for Arsenal in the PL this season as the trio Arsenal strikers will be refreshed with the of signing Ings or the like of him. Which will not have led to us currently seeing Auba, Laca and Nketiah struggling to score in the PL for Arsenal as the trio are currently seen struggling.

    For, the proven over 20 goals top club senior team striker will be scoring goals in the PL for Arsenal this season as his system of play to score would not fully have been understood by the opposition teams. But if he’s marked to prevent him from scoring regularly, that will free Auba from concentration markings by the oppositions giving him freedom to be pouncing at goal scoring. And the same thing will apply to Lacazette too.

    Even if Auba and Laca do recovered their bearings and start to regularly score for Arsenal in the PL as the first half of the season pans on, but still, it will not be unwise for Arteta to refresh his trio strikers by doing a top quality senior team striker’s signing of a top League with over 20 goals per season regular goals scorer during the next January winter window for option and cover.

    Hopefully by then the club will be able to offload Mesut Ozil, Sokratis and any other player or players at the club who could be surpluse to requirements to free funds and space that will allow Arsenal do bring in the new striker signed for refreshing Auba, Laca and Nketiah. Who all should be retained but not sold next January.

  4. .Not taking anything away from the team as it was a creditable performance but one should keep in mind that United are a loss poor side having lost to the likes of Palace and a thrashing by Spurs.
    I still not see us finishing top4.
    Title challenge is far away.The idiot fans who said we will win the league by a country mile once Wenger leaves can they come forward and accept their mistake.

  5. Elneny is more than just a pass and move player . He has vision and the movement which was curtailed by the tactics employed by his previous manager at Arsenal who concentrated on possesion before all else
    . For Egypt and whilst he was in Turkey he was allowed to make the forward runs and those runs have created goals for us this season . Where before he was constrained in going forward I believe that with both himself and his partner in midfield being more forward looking we will see a player that would never have materialised for us . Pepe , Nelson , Saka and Martinelli will benefit and make us a more potent attacking force and less reliant on Auba and to some extent Lacazette to supply the goals .

  6. Mo25 was the exceptional yesterday. Delighted to see someone put their head down and work like he’s done get a reward. Too many these days can’t take it when they get criticised but he’s responded and shown what a class player he is.
    Onward and upward

  7. Rosicky@Arsenal

    I understand your frustration but what’s done is done and for your own sanity I think you have to move on.

    For my part as much as I love/d Wenger I think he did have to move on, not because he wasn’t still a fantastic manager but because it was being made impossible for him to continue.

    I think when Wenger arrived he was universally admired for all he brought to the game. Revolutionary new training methods. Better scouting. Better diet. Better pitches for heavens sake ! All culminating in some of the most breath taking football we had ever seen……..then he went and created the invincibles. Bad move. A French man with a ‘French’ or at least a ‘foreign’ team showing everyone, including their beloved Man Utd and Sir Alex Ferguson how it should be do. That was all too much for, what is in my opinion, a rabid right wing, Xenophobic, verging on racist, media. And even if you don’t accept that assessment I think it’s undeniable that this country still had/has a problem with the French. Just an opinion but it’s what I believe.

    From that season onwards everything changed. This upstart Frenchmen needed to be put back in his box. Que MIKE RILEY, agent provocateur. The way we were refereed from that day onwards turned on it’s head. That is not just my theory, statistics to that extend have been reproduced on Untold Arsenal on many occasions, and Josifs earlier example (*reproduced bellow), of how one referee, in the shape of Dancing Dean, beautifully demonstrates this very notion. In addition to that, and possibly even more crucially because it empowered the new method of refereeing us, was the way the media turned on us with a maelstrom of venom spite beyond anything I had ever seen or thought possible.

    The way we were now being refereed, which resulted in at least 4 of our players maimed by thugs, allied to how we were now being abused by the media, set in motion a narrative of endless critisism and negativity that permeated throughout our Club, from ex players, to the broader fan base. No matter what Arsenal did, or more accurately what Wenger did, from that day onwards he was never going to be allowed to reach those dizzy heights again. constantly qualifying for the CL on a Zero net spend was ridiculed. Winning 3 FA Cups in 4 years and achieving the second most consecutive CL qualifications in Europe was derided as a failure. Oh if only Arsenal could be as good as Spurs !!!

    As such, given the ridiculously toxic atmosphere that had been created around the club, one genuinely poor season was all that was needed to hammer the final nail in Wengers coffin.

    I honestly think if those top 4 finishes during ‘the baron years’ when we operated on a zero net spend, the consecutive CL qualifications, and the resurgent FA Cup triumphs, were given the credit they deserved by the media, and the referees reframed from tilting the pitch to an unplayable degree, and most importantly the fans had appreciated what he had achieved and stuck with Wenger, I honestly believe he would of got us back to the top. But it is all supposition and just my opinion, I realise many will disagree.

    Either way the media and their PGMO cohorts were never going to allow that to happen.

    On a brighter note and luckily for us we seem to of found a very capable replacement in the shape of Arteta. If he achieves half of what Wenger did he will of done remarkably well.

    *Dean has given seven penalties to Arsenal since 2000-01. Four of those since Wenger’s departure (Spurs 2018-19, Cardiff 2018-19, Watford 2019-20, Man United 2020-21). So, he has already given us more penalties since Wenger’s departure (we have played 83 league games since Wenger’s departure) than in 18 seasons prior to it (we had played 684 league games between 2000-01 and 2017-18).

  8. Well, I believe players improve, especially under different managers. The reverse could be the case too.

    Mo Elneny had/has one very vital quality I appreciate in midfielders – MOBILITY. He’s very mobile, plays simple and runs all day. But even under Arsene Wenger he couldn’t measure up to the standard to cement a regular place.

    Fans were rightly calling for his neck that most wanted his loan to Besiktas to have become permanent.

    But he came back, met a new manager and worked hard to be part of the team. Luckily for him, Mikel Arteta appreciated his work rate and improved his tactical sense.

    More luck came in the signing of Thomas Partey. Elneny seemingly found a perfect partner for his game to become topnotch and appreciated.

    For me, the Egyptian was my man-of-the-match at Old Trafford. And if the season ends now as it is, I will vote him our best midfielder of the season.

    He should now realise nobody hated him… it was, and is still, about performance.

  9. “Fans were rightly calling for his neck”… How can that be “rightly”. He was learning and growing. Those negative fans demanded he be kicked out the club. Had they been listened to, we wouldn’t have had him now. Worse, since undoubtedly other players realised he was a player growing into his position, who just needed some time, they would have thought, “well if that is what Arsenal is – a club driven just by fans and journalists” they’d have opted to leave as well.

  10. @Tony…

    There are players who were fantastic early on but later disappointed.

    1. Jack Wiilshere though injury-induced.

    2. 7Denilson.

    3. Diaby – injurt-induced.

    And a player like Sanogo, even Bendtner … maybe if there was another manager, they may have become their own Elnenies.

    Most player performances are built around the managers confidence of giving repeated game time, trust and playing the player in his most productive position.

    Thank God we still have Elneny and he looks set to have finally fought his way to real Arsenal relevance.

  11. Tai

    “Mo Elneny had/has one very vital quality I appreciate in midfielders – MOBILITY. He’s very mobile, plays simple and runs all day. But even under Arsene Wenger he couldn’t measure up to the standard to cement a regular place.

    But he came back, met a new manager and worked hard to be part of the team. Luckily for him, Mikel Arteta appreciated his work rate and improved his tactical sense.”

    Yet another thinly veiled dig at Wenger to go with all your others. The following are some of your other digs at Arsene Wenger, the man you claim to love:

    “So I reckoned that having played four seasons with Wenger that Arteta knew exactly why they were failing season after season”.

    —Failing season after seas? Really?

    “Any year he didn’t win the title should be considered a failure”


    “A man of such pedigree should regard mere top four finishes as failures”.


    “Why didn’t Wenger win the title 14 years after his last? Stubbornness! And that is the plain truth”

    —So it was all down to Wengers stubbornness then ? Really?

    “Then after 2006, Wenger seemingly forgot the very vital physicality of the English game and suddenly became interested in just technical players”.


    “However, my undiluted love for the great man shouldn’t stop me from honest assessment, especially in this new era”.

    Undiluted love you say?

    The more I read from you the more I think you didn’t even like Wenger, let alone love him. Just calling him ‘Le prof’ every now and then means nothing.

    Oh, and I’m not ‘picking on you’ I’m just pointing out what an absolute hypocrite you are.

    And as for your “Fans were rightly calling for his (Elneny’s) neck” comment, that just about sums you up perfectly.

  12. Tai

    “And a player like Sanogo, even Bendtner … maybe if there was another manager, they may have become their own Elnenies.”

    And yet another pop at Wenger. You really dont like the man do you.

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