Is Wenger really going to play Elneny in Arsenal back 3?

I am all for trying things out, in fact a lot of Arsenal fans have been urging Arsene Wenger for years now to be a bit more adventurous or experimental when it comes to playing formations, making substitutions and various other aspects of the game.

I think we were all relieved when the Frenchman finally decided to give the increasingly popular back three system a go towards the end of last season, with no small success, and you could well argue that if he had done so earlier then we may have finished a lot closer to the top of the Premier League.

However, we do not want to experiment or take risks unnecessarily, especially in games that matter like the Premier League ones, so that is why pre-season is a very good time to give young players a chance, have a go with different player positions or team shapes and all, but when the serious business starts you want to be at your best.

So I was a little bit worried to read the bosses words on the Arsenal website about Mohamed Elneny playing in the middle of a back three for Arsenal, as he did in Australia and China. Wenger reckons the Egyptian did well but for me he looked out of his depth and I would not have much confidence in him doing the job for us there in EPL matches.

Arsene said, “Elneny is a player who has a fantastic mentality and attitude, and his main target is to help the team. When he plays there, of course he does extremely well.

“Of course [he needs to learn the defensive side], but I always felt that a good central midfielder can be a good centre back. With the fact of course that when you’re playing in the back four you have to be decisive in the challenges, you have a bit more flexibility in the middle of a back three. He can do that.

“Overall on tour, I played players like Elneny in a back three and he coped very well. Maitland-Niles sometimes played at centre back as well, even in the big games against Chelsea.

“You see their strengths and their weaknesses, and you learn a lot about your players and your combinations too. The advantage we have is that we have a good stability in our squad, so I already know who I can combine with who, more or less.”

Do you think that Elneny is a realistic option for an Arsenal back three?


Updated: July 28, 2017 — 7:06 pm


  1. Wenger starts off well by getting Kolsanic and Lacazette

    Then he does frustrating things like say he wants Eleny in back 3. Another thing is Wenger saying the last couple of weeks will be busy. Wrong strategy to wait for the last two weeks to get top signings

    Back to Eleny. He is a MIDFIELDER, and let’s be honest,he isn’t a great one. Defenders should play in defense. They specialize in that position. If we need another CB, then sign one.

    Wenger Can still make this summer a big success but he needs to get two more top players minimum. Lemar and a Top CM. But it’s not looking good at the moment

    Wenger is going back to his old ways. He will never change

    1. I don’t think Wenger respects Defense very much. Most of our great defense of late 90s early 2000s he inherited. He never really got a top defensive midfielder to make-up for Viera. He has not built a very strong defense since the Invincibles

      Playing Eleny and Niles at the back. Sometimes he used to play Flamini at LB shows that.

      I think he thinks that CD is not a big deal and Midfielders can be just as good. That’s bad thinking.

      A STRONG defense is a key to winning the PL. Only experienced Defenders should play in the back 3 or 4.

      1. The entire Invincibles backline was solely brought in under Wenger. Viera wasn’t a defensive midfielder.

    2. To be fair Arsenal Girl, I see nowhere in the statement Wenger wanting to play him as a CB. We have too many CBs if anything and good competition.

    3. Not sure the objective of creating negative headline

      … you have written Wenger said “You see their strengths and their weaknesses, and you learn a lot about your players and your combinations too” … doesnt thar answer your own question about why he is trying Elneny and other players out in match conditions !!
      Kos Mustafi and Holding / Per will line up unleas we get a spate of injuries… Chambers is there also as well as Monreal so plenty ahead of Elneny for CB

  2. Careful now… its unfair to champion lucas’ corner with how he’s not had a chance n all that… so maybe arsene sees something in mohammed elneny that we’re not aware of. I have seen chances taken with kola (remember) and his career is noteworthy – 2x invincible titles to his name. In short let’s be fair and give him a chance. You never know, could be we’ve a Adams mark2 on our hands.

  3. Remember Resource?

    OT: the third bid for lemar was not the 44m one. That was the second bid. Third bid was 55m plus add ons. No more news from me regarding Lemar this was all agreed earlier this month. Clubs will announce the move soon after finalising monaco’s deal for diakhaby. For those of you asking for other targets, arsenal do have other players that they look at just like every other club. there is no other noteworthy “target” apart from Mahrez and now tracking seri that is the news that I have regarding there targets. Alexis is alexis.. Don’t believe anything you hear unless its official. There are murmurs about him staying though.. but nothing concrete all rumours. Ozil, ramsey and chamberlain will be extending their contracts and announcements will be made once things are finalised..

    1. The Wizard of Ozil

      I like you ‘remember resource’ ‘kev’ and ‘resource’. All in one.
      You seem to have the most positive views here. Made my day. Was feeling down after the Sanchez topic…

    2. Honestly speaking I’m not resource.I’m his deputy.I take over when he’s not around.Hi boss.

  4. Sometimes it can work Kolo Toure was initially a midfielder so was Lauren, but Elneny is cut from a different cloth, let’s just hope the boss is praising him to boost confidence. Besides we have a fair few out and out centrebacks now.

    Am I the only one that misses the days when we had young players coming through our academy and giving opportunities that doesn’t seem to happen as much these days. Didn’t we used to redicule the likes of Chelsea for just buying everyone until something or someone works. I’m all for adding a couple of players here and there but some fans are talking about signing 6 or 7 players at an average cost of 40million each! OK let’s say we do that, then what? We do it every season? In that case might as well scrap the youth system all together. We just lack consistency at the moment, we either have a good start, good middle or good end of season never all three.

    1. We haven’t got anyone apart from maybe Beilik that could make the step up to the first team. I’m sorry but players like Adelaide and Niles will never be Arsenal first team regulars

      1. How do you know Adelaide or Niles won’t become regular starters?These are players with world class potential and if everything goes well they should eventually fulfill their potential and look to fight for their place.I expect Jeff to be one of the best midfielders in the EPL in the future.As for Niles he can become a player who commands things in the centre.Wenger just needs to stop misusing him.It’s killing his confidence.

  5. Hey Wiz, all three are the same person, don’t you get it?!

    1. Admin alone knows….but he won’t tell ?

  6. Even with Paulista and Mustafi out there is Per, Koscielny, Holding and Monreal why does Elneny need to play there?

    Bottom line, to save money.

    Remember he did the same with Monreal one preseason. Nacho became a CB overnight it seemed according to Wenger. This man will never learn his lesson.

    1. And didn’t that eventually pay off with Nacho becoming a competent CB. A position in which he played and kept Chelsea at bay to win the FA cup.

  7. Wenger will blame Europa league scheduling for his failure to win title this season should we not win the league.

  8. Wenger will surprise all the nay-sayers, detractors and ones undermining him (again) he can out- think everyone on these social media threads and still has a record to prove it. We have arguably the last of a unique generation of manager at arsenal. The ones that criticise him no-end are the ones meant to be behind his team. That’s what I said “his team” because for all the flack sent his way each and every one of us still look-out for the team he decides over the length of the season. He won’t be with us forever, the 2 years will pass in jiffy – then what?? naysayers masquerading as fans will be readying a guillotine for the next manager and have the audacity to compare him/her to Wenger.

  9. Arsenal team is Wenger’s experiment ground.. What else?

  10. Perhaps Wenger should take a gamble by experimenting with powerful commanding centre backs like Virgil Van Dyk or Sahko from Liverpool. Personally I’d buy Sahko , he is cheaper than VVD but just as good plus he is miles better than Gabriel , Chambers and Elneny, pity he had a falling out with Kopp hence he was loaned out to Crystal Palace .

    1. Have you actually watched Sakho play or are you naming him cos you heard his name in the media.

  11. I really think Wenger has used Elneny a CB purely based on the fact we are so short on CBs this pre-season for different reasons. I think Wenger wanted to stick with the 3 at the back through pre-season to prepare the team for that formation so had to use a makeshift defence. He could have gone back to the old formation whilst we are short on number then switched to the back 3 when our CBs return but that would be counter productive.

  12. Such experiments could be costly

  13. No, he’s not a Natural Center back, would rather give Holding chance to get more experiences, to be honest it’s very had to get a decent CB in this current market, because the money would be too much for them, i would prefer a DM and convert either Monreal or Kosiniac to a CB than spend another money on a CB. Get Lemar , Sanchez Stays, Get a Proper DM and we are good to go

  14. Is Wenger really going to play Elneny in Arsenal back 3? What kinna silly question is that?

    .Did he stutter when he made comments about his intentions to play Elneny there?

    Wasn’t Wenger the same man who brought in Kim Kalstrom when we were in an advantagious position in the league during 2013-2014 when it was a striker that we desperately needed & furthermore made it public that he was aware of Kalstrom’s injury when it was confirmed the player had an injury after his medicals?. Wenger is the orchestrator of almost every failure of ours because he’s in the helms deep of every Arsenal transaction,dealings,decision making & policy initiation.

    All I hear my fellow Gunners spew on the Sanchez issue is that “we should let him go( which I agree) because nobody is bigger than Arsenal(which I find hard to believe) because Wenger has shown time & time again that he’s bigger than Arsenal for overstaying even when its totally obvious that he delivers no more & even shows the arrogance of coming to say “nothing the fans do get to him & he will only leave in his own choosing” n still gets cheered on & supported by you blinded deluded lots but yet you chumps still come here to make noise about how nobody is bigger than Arsenal….

    The biggest message you can show to any player or person that displays arrogance on us is by the fans standing up against & successfully exiting any autocrat or oppressor in the club starting from Kroenke Gazidis & Wenger and I promise you guys that from then no player will try anything silly on our beloved Arsenal

  15. Didn’t read the article but if Wenger were to continue to use Elneny in the back three it would be complete madness.

    1. Just like Javier Mascherano being converted into a CB from DM was madness right?

  16. The Wizard of Ozil

    No, not Elneny. Not a good header of the ball. Closes his eyes when heading. Fears physical contacts in the air. No…no…no

  17. I agree with the coach; the man (Elneny) is fantastic. in the field we have 11 players; but Elneny is always your scapegoat, stop the B.S.

  18. Using a defensive midfielder as a cb is just starting from Wenger n Elneny, Mikel Obi was sometimes used at cb, mascherano of barca too etc. Why do we always Blame Wenger for everything, Elneny is becoming surplus in d midfield, Asene is just trying to give him chance to place, especially wen our cb starters r injured. If he play well there nothing bad

  19. I mean not just starting from Wenger n elneny

  20. Wenger is proving again and again he’s out of date and worst part is that he’s not going to change that attitude. He just can’t offload Debuchy, Jenkinson, Gibbs, Coquelin and Wilshere nor renew the contracts of those we need that is Alexis and Oxalade. From the beginning of the window we were in touch with Monaco for Lemar with an insulting offer which keep on rejected. By the time clubs who are interested in serious buying completed deals for Silva, Bakayako, Mendy and all. We, Arsenal with a greedy manager and board believe in financial benefits more than footballing reasons keep on begging like a shameless creature and insulting the other clubs and it’s own Fans. Fans be prepared for a worst season ahead and reward him with a life time contract. Players like Isco, Goretzka and Seri won’t cost you world but he’ll neglect it so royally like his precious years when we had opportunity to sign Van Dyik, Wanyama Kostas Manolas and the very Lemar itself on a much lower fee. He’ll end up with panic buying just like in the past and fool is again. By the time he bought Lacazette almost every fans might have renewed their season tickets. So it the same time of the year to bluff us all over and over again and again.
    Identify those who are to be offloaded and renewed before the end of the season. Identify the areas to be strengthen and the players. Act wisely for that and you’ll be enabled to do you business ASAP. The end result is our team will be good enough to be champions and on the financial terms you’ll have to spend more.

  21. Yes he will….he likes to do these kind of stupid experiments using players out of their positions.

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