I am very surprised that no one suggested that Mohamed Elneny was not the obvious choice to play in midfield against Brighton on Saturday after Thomas Partey as ruled out through injury. Arteta refused to let the Egyptian midfielder leave in the summer as he was needed as backup to Xhaka and Partey, so once it was decided that Xhaka would be covering for Tierney surely the vastly experienced Egyptian should have been a shoe-in.
The 30 year-old has not had many games for Arsenal this season, only featuring in 7 games in total, but he played every game for his country at the AFCON where Egypt lost in the final on penalties, and he played in all their games in the recent international break, so he was definitely fit and ready to do his job.
Instead, Arteta chose to go with with the much less experienced and out of form Lokonga, perhaps hoping that ESR, Martinelli, Saka, Lacazette and Odegaard would be able to score enough for his performance to not be too important, but that plan obviously back-fired as we only got one real breakthrough right at the end of the game.
I am sure that Arteta should have found a different solution to the left back problem before the game, with either Holding or Tavares making up the numbers, and then the back line would have had Xhaka and Elneny in front of them to help stop the onslaught on the defence.
We have many more defenders to choose from than midfielders, so leaving the middle of the pitch totally exposed seemed like a very irrational idea in my book.
What do you think?
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Video – Mikel Arteta post-Brighton “It’s time to criticise ourselves”