2) Arsenal’s midfield clicks with Elneny, Xhaka and Ozil playing together
Enough and more has been said about Francis Coquelin’s contributions (or the lack of them) in recent games. The French midfielder was not in the squad today and it was Mohamed Elneny who started alongside Granit Xhaka.
The Egyptian midfielder offers a lot more than Coquelin when going forward. He is very mobile and actively involved in Arsenal’s attack – unlike Coquelin who plays as if he has a fear of venturing into the final third.
Elneny’s mobility and desire to receive passes in the thick of the action was a refreshing change to Coquelin’s limited range and it also freed up Xhaka to focus on finding the wide forwards. For a change, Xhaka played 90 minutes without getting booked.
Together, the pair had 213 touches of the ball – 25% of the touches Arsenal made in the entire game. Xhaka himself completed 106 passes with an 89% success rate – many of which set Arsenal on their way thanks to his clever distribution of the ball.
The pair’s movement was also instrumental in allowing Ozil to roam between the lines and switch sides at will. The German playmaker had one of his best games in recent weeks as he was given the freedom to combine with Alexis Sanchez, finishing the game with a well-deserved goal and an assist.Published 06 Apr 2017, 03:08 IST