Why Elneny started over Sambi Lokonga in Arsenal’s defeat to Man United

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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.

‘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:

 

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Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 Chelsea FC 14 27 33
2 Manchester City 14 21 32
3 Liverpool FC 14 31 31
4 West Ham United 14 8 24
5 Arsenal FC 13 -2 23
6 Wolverhampton Wanderers 14 0 21
7 Brighton & Hove Albion 14 -2 19
8 Leicester City 14 -3 19
9 Tottenham Hotspur 12 -6 19
10 Manchester United 13 -1 18
11 Brentford FC 13 0 16
12 Crystal Palace 14 -1 16
13 Aston Villa 14 -4 16
14 Everton FC 14 -7 15
15 Leeds United 14 -7 15
16 Southampton FC 14 -7 15
17 Watford FC 14 -7 13
18 Burnley FC 13 -6 10
19 Norwich City 14 -20 10
20 Newcastle United 14 -14 7
Player Team Goals
Salah, Mohamed Liverpool FC 13
Vardy, Jamie Leicester City 9
Jota, Diogo Liverpool FC 8
Mane, Sadio Liverpool FC 7
Dennis, Emmanuel Watford FC 6
Antonio, Michail West Ham United 6
Ronaldo, Cristiano Manchester United 6
Raphinha Leeds United 6
Fernandes, Bruno Manchester United 5
King, Joshua Watford FC 5
Son, Heung Min Tottenham Hotspur 5
Smith-Rowe, Emile Arsenal FC 5
Silva, Bernardo Manchester City 5
Pukki, Teemu Norwich City 5
Wilson, Callum Newcastle United 5
Maupay, Neal Brighton & Hove Albion 5
Cornet, Maxwel Burnley FC 5
Sarr, Ismaila Watford FC 5
James, Reece Chelsea FC 4
Mount, Mason Chelsea FC 4

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