Elneny The Water-Carrier: Now That is a Compliment!

Water, is taught by thirst.
Land—by the Oceans passed.
Transport—by throe—
Peace—by its battles told—
Love, by Memorial Mold—
Birds, by the Snow.

By Emily Dickenson

Carrying water and not spilling it is a skill. Quite a few fans have been calling our Egyptian midfield dynamo ‘just a water-carrier’, as if being a water-carrier is somehow something to be ashamed of. Elneny, as an Egyptian, will fully know about the importance of water. Without the wonderful river Nile and its habit to overflow and thus irrigate the land on its banks seasonally, there would never have been an Egyptian dynasty which lasted for millennia and gave us the most exquisite art-works and artifacts. No water no life and no civilisation.

See the source image

If the supply and distribution of water were managed well by the Egyptians then life would be good and there would be spare time for great things to happen. Those water-managers and carriers were vital; and our water-carriers and water-managers, Elneny and Xhaka, are just as vital to Arsenal.

There is an obsession with having at least one deeper-laying midfielder to be a ball-carrier: a foxie-foxie boxie-boxie who just runs with the ball and hands it over to the attackers or, ideally, delivers that beautiful through-ball time and again. The fact that such a player leaves huge space behind them and with that leaves our midfield and defence vulnerable, seems not to matter. Yet this is exactly why Arsenal have not been able to move on in recent years. We were leaky at the back and gave away far too many chances – and Arteta’s first priority is to stop the rot.

Just get a ‘proper DM’, they say, and get rid of that donkey, Xhaka! Get that Partey guy and all will be swell. Ah well, Arteta seems to see things differently, and being a former midfielder and having played under Arsene and co-managed with the Pepster, I think he knows what is needed more than you and me, don’t you think?

The combo of Xhaka and Elneny may not be sexy for some, but to me – and yes I am the kind of guy who can look at a man-made wall and say ‘now that is a fine wall’ – it is a joy to watch. Tidy, eager, calm and organised, the Swiss and Egyptian water-carriers make us tick and purr. Arteta tried to tame Guendouzi and Ceballos but Elneny is a natural in this role, and it shows.

I wrote previously about the importance of Willian, who both works hard and will make regular connections with our deeper-laying midfield to carry the ball forward if required. This will make a huge difference in terms of chance-creation this season. But if you watch carefully, you will also see that Xhaka and Elneny are actually supporting our attack more, but rather than run forward with the ball – so often a time-consuming and wasteful activity giving defences an opportunity to organise themselves – they prefer to pass their way through whilst keeping it tidy between them and behind them.

And there is one more point. If a team plays 3-4-3 with two marauding wing-backs then that much-desired forward thrust from midfield will be coming from them, in the first instance. They need to be launched with good passes and combination football, and they will also need to be covered for, as huge gaps are left behind every time they join the attack. Hence we need two disciplined water-managers and carriers to keep the balance right.

This does not mean that Arteta will not be looking at some added thrust from the centre of midfield, or that Elneny cannot be improved on. There is hope that Ceballos will develop further and Partey may still join the very Arsenal-party that Mikel is organising, but let there be no doubt that Elneny is an important player for us and Arteta is counting on him.

Water is taught by thirst.

By TotalArsenal.

43 thoughts on “Elneny The Water-Carrier: Now That is a Compliment!

  • You must see a lot of him up there Total, how would you describe him, is he quick, is he strong, good in the air, two footed, has a good shot, technical?

  • Nice post btw, Elneny has been given the opportunity and he’s taken it in his two hands and has probably, in the short term, leapfrogged Ceballos.

  • The role is less natural for Ceballos as he really wants to be more forward where the attacking action is, but he had good games v Citeh and Chavs in the FA cup and I am sure we will see a lot of him. I reckon Elneny may be cover for Xhaka too and a combo of Elneny-Ceballos in certain games, especially in Europe, would not surprise me.

  • Well said TA. Hey I’m all for it.

    1. I love a feel good story. We’ve see players turn it around (Xhaka) and we’ve seen fringe players become key pillars when given an opportunity (flamini when gilberto was given extra time off. Coquelin too). I love defensive midfielders but you don’t always need the big frimpong type brutes. The game has changed. You just need to pressure and run. Arteta and carzola were thought of as attacking midfielders buut they adapted into deeper lying mids that were. Tasked with ticking the ball over. Elney can do it too.

    2. I think a team needs a player that can run all game and constantly present as an option. He’s like an energiser bunny. Just keeps going. You can’t teach that work ethic. That’s heart.

    3. It suits our style of play. It allows more freedom for Willian. That’s a positive because with freedom he creates havoc. Take out Willian and Saka/pepe will have the same luxury.

    4. As arteta has said – elneny’s attitude is infectious. What’s not to love about a player that enjoys playing and is grateful for the opportunity. That’s a breath of fresh air from the spoilt brats like mini luiz or ozil.

    5. Save money and spend it elsewhere.

  • Excellent points, OzG. Re your point 3: Elneny also frees up Xhaka a bit more so he can deliver his diagonal and over the top balls a bit further up where they are more effective. For example, he played in Auba over the top with a good ball and that could easily have been an assist.

    You are also spot on about his energy levels and natural running ability. Where Ceballos often looks done in after 70 minutes, the walk-like-an-Egyptian Elneny just keeps going..

  • I like the article and agree with the main conclusions of the conversation.
    And I’m certainly pleased with a large-margin away win including a clean sheet – even though against a soft opponent.

    Elneny’s main strengths are indeed his energy, his reliable passing (of which I though was rather short-range, but he surprised me on Saturday), and his absolute lack of weaknesses.
    Yet, my questions as follows:
    – Can we assume that Partey is a an Elneny 2.0 and would/could act/fill the same role?
    – Assuming that we make a single change of the line-up, and replace Mo with either Ceballos, Aouar or Partey, would Arsenal’s style of play also change?
    – With the increased offensive threat Dani, Houssem – or even Emile and Julian – provide, would it be offset by a significant defensive risk, if Elneny’s DM role in midfield is replaced by a CM or even an AM?

  • No Total. Just no. Firstly, I don’t like the attempted equalization of Elneny and Xhaka. Xhaka was maybe the best in his position in Germany the year we bought him for 30 something million if I recall, which is the equivalent of 50 million now I guess. In the eyes of all our managers he is a key player, and I’m sure is respected by opposing coaches too. Xhaka is not a water carrier. He is our iron man, and he has special skills to boot. What do you think ElNenys value is on the real open market? What do you think we could get for him? In todays financial environnent, the true answer could be embarassing.

    It’s fan fantasy to make Elneny out to be the perfect player for our situation, just because we can’t afford to upgrade in midfield, where we desperately need more than one addition. So we just happen to have the answer to our prayers available on our books? How fortunate.

    You all know I get caught up in our own hype when things are going well, like anybody else. But we have a glaring hole in midfield, and the window is still open. I’ve said this before, we are loaded up front, and have prospects to improve our defense. It will be poor management if we let the window close without improving the connection between the two.

    Elneny can be handy against the top teams when we’re trying to scrape out a point by a cautious defensive strategy primarily, and hoping for a break. That’s his upper ceiling. The top teams also have dms with much more skill than him. Against three quarters of the league, we will need someone who can make a difference if we need to break through a parked bus. Xhaka is our steady deep defending midfielder, with incredible distribution talent. Having to add a defensive only player next to him weakens the lineup. But I’ll keep cheering for him to do well and give him as much credit as I can. He’s a great guy and a hard worker.

    P.S. I got linked to this post as a suggestion on the Google homepage, that’s cool.

  • J. I like your passion and in real life very few people ever say No to me hahaha. Very refreshing. 😉

    We differ in opinion but I like it that you say you cheer him on. I really think we will get an extra midfielder, maybe even two and you will be a happy man. But Elneny will play a big role this season- of that I am convinced.

  • Great vid, Eris. A beautiful symmetry.
    Thanks TA for an interesting read. The luminous Emily D is huge in our household.
    Israel draws 80% of its household water supply from the Mediterranean, passing it through a desalination process. Their astonishing work ethic and genius has, over the past 70 years turned a desert into a garden. I sense Mikal is doing something similar, working with our players, transforming and freshening their talents and attitudes to bring Spring into our beloved House of Arsenal. Mo is an example of this, the buds are evident. May they flower and turn this season into a fruitful one.

    A Light exists in Spring
    Not present on the Year
    At any other period —
    When March is scarcely here

    A Color stands abroad
    On Solitary Fields
    That Science cannot overtake
    But Human Nature feels.

    It waits upon the Lawn,
    It shows the furthest Tree
    Upon the furthest Slope you know
    It almost speaks to you.

    Then as Horizons step
    Or Noons report away
    Without the Formula of sound
    It passes and we stay —

    A quality of loss
    Affecting our Content
    As Trade had suddenly encroached
    Upon a Sacrament.
    Emily D.

  • @JNYC

    I get your points but i think using market value as a benchmark isnt all that worthwhile. 6 months ago we’d be lucky to get 2 million for martinez. Now he’s going to get 10x that amount. You could do the same for players up or down.

    What would we have said about flamini? A midfielder that caught a break in the champions league as a backup right back. Then another break with Gilberto going. According to transfermarkt his value tripled before going too Milan on a free. And that’s back when 35 million for robinho was huge!

    Sometimes it clicks for players. The system. Confidence. Hit their prime. Coaching. I think it could work. Partley may be a 45 million dollar flop. After all, a year ago people barely even mentioned him. You can see the google trends over the past 5 years with ‘thomas partey’ = barely a thing. Even last year. Then it x4 when manu, arsenal, transfer are listed as ‘breakout trends’

    All subjective value. DMs are like CBs at the moment. A few new one gets that big multiplier added to their price. A miracle gabriel didn’t….somehow.

  • All those questions are relevant and part of the conondrum, PB. I think Arteta is keen to keep it tight and tidy in midfield, and XhakA and Elneny are quite like Arteta and Song back in the days. What we lack is numbers in those positions. Torreira is just not impressing Mikel, Guendo is out of favour, Ceballos is an option but we need at least one more experienced midfielder who can play in the XhakA and or ‘Elneny’ role.

  • Wow Stuart, I love your comment. Please keep them coming. Love the water analogy and the poem by ED. She is great and what a deep and vivid poem you have chosen!

  • Oz, good points about market values. I used those to supplement what I observe from watching our midfielders. The true answer is that I don’t think we could offload him if we wanted to, for any fee, considering his salary is too much for smaller clubs. It’s not that we should get rid of him though, because if Torreira leaves, I think we should keep Mo around. Just use him sparingly.

    I missed the match review comments, but Willian looked sharp and worked really hard. That’s one reason i lamented the other day about the extra subs voted out. We have Willian, and PEA over 30 and important, with lots of depth in those positions. …….
    Ceballos looked like something that we’ve been missing and havent seen in over a year- a creative midfielder who can feed Pepe, Auba, Laca, Eddie and Saka. It was a promising cameo.

    Is Emi sold officially? After watching Chelsea today, that Kepa signing is one of the biggest busts in years, should we offer them Emi for 50 mil? Just kidding. I dont want to make them stronger, because we will battle them for top 4.

  • Nothing official yet, JotBA. I am wondering whether some accounting stuff is in the way of announcing the signing of Auba and the sale of Martinez at the moment…

  • Garth Crooks had only 8 games to pick from. 🙂

    Emi is indeed on his way out.
    It’s hard to evaluate if we’re getting a decent price for him, because maybe if he stays, next summer he would have a market value of 35-40M. However he wasn’t satisfied with 2000 guaranteed minutes (out of 5000) a year – and the chance to fight for more! – so he is leaving for Villa, where he will be competing with Heaton, 34 (reliable English goalkeeper with international caps in every age group), Kalinic, 30 (Croatia’s gigantic keeper, who is currently injured), Nyland, 30 (Norway’s #2 goalkeeper) and Jed Steer, 27 (a guy with U16, U17 and U19 caps that is with the club since academy). I think Martinez will be disappointed, and there will be nobody else to blame.

  • Pb, I do not think he will edge out Heaton, and he will still be on the bench. Maybe he will not get even 2000 minutes for them, and he will be disappointed to go to a lesser club and still be second fiddle.

  • I think it is unrealistic to assume that Martinez would not become Nr1 GK. They would not spend that sort of money currently to have him as nr2or having to compete for the position. Martinez would also heve looked for assurances re this.

  • Just a small point, because Martinez was qualified as a home based player and it’s looking as if we’re signing an Icelandic replacement, that’ll mean we’ll currently have 19 foreign players in our 25 (17 foreign) squad. therefore if my dodgy arithmetic is correct, for Arsenal to sign both Partey and Aouar, we’ll need to sell/loan out 4 foreign players?

    Good luck with that!

  • Great news regarding Aubameyang, most important signing of the summer and whose to say that he won’t stay beyond those three years?

    Jeorge Bird
    Arsenal reject Sheffield United’s offer of £3 million for Balogun. Says Arsenal want a total package worth around £15 million. Expect there will be further offers to come from other clubs.

  • TA– Another of the sites I visit (and have a good bit of my trust)– posted they were informed by the club to ‘turn notifications on’– in expectation of an imminent announcement. Then, when I saw the Arseblog post– knew it was just a matter of time until Arsenal.com added it officially. Arsenal.com aren’t the quickest to get their site updates published.

    Consider where Arteta have brought us just since December. Hard to grasp!
    Fabulous day today! 🎆


  • Bergkampesque, the only place where football and poetry (emily dickinson, to boot!!) live in such harmony …
    About Mo, let’s also keep in mind, that he has it in him too to be dangerous around the opponent’s box (his curler against Barcelona at the camp nou, his superb assist for danny in moskow against cska, …).
    Last sunday, Mo could have scored a great goal against fulham, after Laca’s should-have been-an-assist backheel: his dummy was great, instinctive stuff,the way he darted into the box was impressive, and had it not been for a great block, he would have had his name on the scoresheet. To do so more often, he’s the kind of lad who needs confidence, which is just what mick provides him with.
    Auba’s re-signing’s great news, of course. The sums at stake for the signing of a 30+ player still make me dizzy, but his seemingly never-ending run of form is nothing short of sensational, and his injury-free career is testament to his professionalism.
    Last week-end, during the Fulham game HT, Gilles Grimandi seemed to imply that our captain had huge offers from major clubs on his plate, which probably means that this club really does mean something to him too. I wouldn’t be surprised if he should celebrate the deal in classy fashion next Sunday, hammering the hammers …

  • Best news of the day, Aubameyang putting his signature on the document. I did say that was likely going to happen as that’s just the way he will roll. Chuffed; and proud to be a gooner.

  • I am happy for Auba.
    Let’s hope that his astronomical wages won’t disturb the dressing room dynamics.

    On Martinez: I’m sure he want and does his best to keep the #1 spot. I just assume he will have some competition, as Villa’s current goalkeepers didn’t sign up to be #3 choices either.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s