Despite all the injuries this season, which isn’t anything new, Arsene Wenger has seen his squad fight adversity, making their way to the top of the Premier League table. Competing in three competitions means there will be a lot of minutes to be played, and Wenger is well aware of what he needs to bring into the squad in order to solidify Arsenal’s title contention.
The Frenchman announced in a press conference that the North London club will be active this month.
I don’t give much away because I don’t know what’s happening with transfers.
I want to talk about them and hopefully we are capable of doing something in the next 10 days.
It’s more about quality than quantity because our players will not stay out injured forever. Francis Coquelin is starting to run, Santi Cazorla will be back mid-February, and Mikel Arteta is back now, so hopefully, if we can add one, if needed, two maximum.
There has been a lot said about Basel midfielder Mohamed Elneny completing a medical ahead of a £7.3 million transfer, but there have also been reports that while both clubs and the player have reached an agreement, the Egyptian is waiting for international clearance. We’ve seen many players in the past struggle to get a work permit, with Joel Campbell being one of the latest, so this minor detail could be a big pain in the a** for Arsene Wenger.
While I don’t know much about Elneny in terms of watching him play regularly, I have seen him play in European matches with the Swiss outfit and he has been impressive. Although listed as a defensive midfielder, he comes across as more of a box-to-box midfielder. That’s not to say he wouldn’t be able to fit the role of the injured Francis Coquelin because let’s be honest, if Wenger thinks Mikel Arteta can help fill that void, there’s no reason why a 23-year old Elneny can’t.
Defensively, he has averaged 2.4 tackles in the Europa League while taking part in every match. In comparison to Francis Coquelin this season prior to his injury, the Frenchman averaged 2.8 tackles across all competitions (16 appearances). Again, I think both bring different styles of play to the table, but at such a young age, Elneny could really flourish in North London.
My one concern here is similar to my concern with any transfer in January – will they be able to adapt to the style of play in the Premier League, and if they can, will it happen soon enough to make an impact?
We all know the Premier League is on it’s own level. From the congested schedule to the level of competitiveness across the board, we’ve seen some of Europe’s best arrive and fail. Seeing as Elneny is only 23-years old, he has plenty of time to grow and get used to things, but getting thrown into the fire halfway through the season with loads of pressure on the squad to deliver a Premier League title, that may not be easy to cope with.
Yes, I understand he’s won the title with Basel in Switzerland, but we can’t compare the pressure of winning the title there, to the pressure on the title contenders in the most watched footy league in the world.
As we all wait to hear the final verdict on him, Victor Wanyama has also been another name that’s been thrown around a few times. I’m actually a big fan of the Kenyan, and the best part about a potential transfer is the fact that he’s been in the Premier League for three years now. He not only has been able to get used to the high demand of the league, but he is also very familiar with the opposition, making him a smart choice for a January signing.
At 188cm tall, Wanyama would offer more size in the midfield which we haven’t had in a while. Don’t get me wrong, Coquelin does one hell of a job throwing his body around, but having another enforcer like Wanyama to back him up would be fantastic. He knows what his job is on the pitch, and he’s not one to try and stray forward, getting caught out of position, exposing Per Mertesacker’s obvious lack of pace.
How about those 3.1 tackles per match! Like I said, we need someone who is going to impose themselves, and this guy can offer that.
I wouldn’t mind seeing both come into the squad, knowing that it’s very likely that Rosicky, Arteta and Flamini could be on their way out in the summer. These two would fill those voids and give the squad a good amount of reliable depth.
The question now is who is Arsene Wenger really targeting, and who will be the chosen one? Or two?