From yesterday’s comments we get today’s Question of the Day… Is Elneny really this good or is Ramsey really that bad?
It’s something that I have thought about myself. What am I really watching when I see Elneny play football? For this discussion I think we need to look at Elneny and Ramsey in the context of the player they are replacing, Cazorla. That looks like this:
So, basically, what you get is three different types of players. Elneny leads Arsenal in passing %, hitting 92% overall and 72% from long balls. This is the role Arteta played at Arsenal when he used to play for us back in the 1960s. The other number he does that is Artetaesque is the possession loss: low possession loss numbers go hand in hand with players who perform a metronomic function in midfield.
I don’t know why Elneny’s tackle numbers are so low. Perhaps he hasn’t had a chance to tackle as much, or perhaps he is learning the game, or perhaps Coquelin has just been on fire.
Cazorla leads Arsenal in passes per game, is second in key passes, and is fourth in dribbles.* Cazorla provides Arsenal with a second creative option in midfield. He likes to collect the ball and redistribute but he also can provide the final ball that Elneny hasn’t done so far.
And then there is Ramsey. And look, it’s just straight out true about Ramsey, he LOVES going forward: his shots numbers are like a forward, his possession loss is like a forward, and he doesn’t create for his teammates, kinda like a center forward. What Ramsey also offers, however, is that he tackles and intercepts like a midfielder and he’s third in pass volume behind Cazorla and Elneny!
My answer to the question is: none of them are good or bad but rather Arsenal have three different flavors of center mid to play alongside Coquelin.
All three players are insanely active on the pitch, Elneny runs more than all of them but Ramsey is no slouch – he goes back almost as much as he goes forward. With Elneny you have a player who sits deeper and dictates play with his passing but isn’t yet providing the final ball or breaking up opposition attacks with tackles. With Cazorla, you have a player who loves to recycle possession and provides a second attacking outlet in midfield. Cazorla is also a master at getting out of tight spaces with a groovy dribble. And with Ramsey, you have a player who makes runs into the opposition final third and never hesitates to shoot while trying to break up play from the front. Elneny is your long range gun, Cazorla is a middle gun, and Ramsey is a forward gunner.
All that said, this is a small sample for Elneny and there are signs that he can do all the things Cazorla can do. For example, Elneny had his best game of the season so far against Barcelona. It’s a statistical “one off” but in that game he was…
93% accurate on 45 passes, had 2 key passes, was 3/3 dribbling, was 3/4 tackling, made 2 interceptions, made 2 clearances, made 3 fouls in the right areas of the pitch, and scored Arsenal’s only goal.
He was Arsenal’s best player on the day and frankly gives Arsene Wenger a “selection headache” between him and Ramsey at the moment. Until Cazorla returns from injury, that is!
*Ox, Alexis, Welbeck are all in front of him but they are all 50% dribblers while Cazorla is a 80%. This is mostly down to the fact that the front three players are attempting dribbles in and around the box where it is crowded and Cazorla is attempting them in midfield where he has more space and fewer defenders.