Of the many talking points from the Sporting Lisbon game, one of the most controversial for many was the decision to play Mohammed Elneny. To me, the Egyptian is a decent enough player, who can play at centre back, if required. Indeed, some players lose their spark and forget how to be the best in their favoured position if turned into a ‘Jack of all trades.
However, there is no denying that he has been completely outshone this season by his central midfielder lookalike, Matteo Guendouzi. In fact, nearly the whole team have looked ordinary in comparison to the £7m signing from Lorient, who once again played a starring role, as Arsenal continued their amazing winning run.
Guendouzi orchestrated virtually every attack, which is a rare trait, particularly with teenagers. The impact he has made is similar to that made by Cesc Fabregas, although in style he’s more like Emmanuel Petit.
Another talking point is the form of Danny Welbeck. The England striker plays with his heart on his sleeve and will be sorely missed when he moves on a free transfer at the end of the season. He scored the only goal of the game and had another harshly chalked off for a foul, presumably. On this form, Welbeck will be a bigger miss than Aaron Ramsey, who is a shadow of his former self.
Likewise, Henrikh Mkhitaryan failed to impress, and it’s hard to see where he fits into this current Arsenal team.
Meanwhile, Granit Xhaka looks solid as a left back, rather than a left-back-in-the-changing-room, so that augurs.
Stephan Lichtsteiner on the other flank looks less assured than his compatriot, surprisingly.
Holding and Sokratis make a solid partnership, protecting Leno’s goal, so no wonder the impressive German kept a clean sheet.
At the other end, Aubameyang cannot be expected to keep scoring goals for fun, if he’s to be played on the wing and from the bench. In a way, he’s adjusted too well to his new role and now seems better at crossing than he is at shooting. Like Elneny, he could become another victim of his own versatility.
All in all, though, it was another pleasing performance from Emery’s men although they must learn to be out of the traps more quickly or risk ending the winning streak prematurely.