Elneny relishes strike against Barcelona, sets sight on Premiership, Eagles’ clash
Egypt’s Mohamed Elneny was one of the few outstanding players in Arsenal’s 1-3 loss to Barcelona on Wednesday night, but his efforts just fell short of taking the Londoners to the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League.
The Pharaoh says he was happy with his performance against Barcelona, but disappointed by the result, to the club’s official website.
The Egyptian midfielder has seen limited game time since joining from Basel in the January transfer window.
Recent weeks have seen his game time increased significantly though with a number of starts in the Gunners midfield.
The latest of those was against Barcelona in the Champions League, in which he got his side’s only goal of the game and his first for the club in a 3-1 defeat. And he admits he was pleased with his display, adding that his team must now turn their focus to the Premier League title race.
“I’m happy with my performance, but not that happy about the result. I knew it’d be hard, but there is no ‘hard’ in football,” he told arsenal.com.
“We did what we could. Sure, we lost, but we tried our best. We were playing against a big team.”
“We’re still up for the league. We need to focus. We still have nine games to go and God willing we can do it.”
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Whether Arsenal can actually compete for the title now, however, remains to be seen.
Elneny worked tirelessly to help shield the back four against Barca’s vaunted attack and made a number of key interceptions, but still had enough energy to push forward in attack. He should have done better with a first-half chance but his finish for Arsenal’s goal was exquisite, as he received a pass from Alexis Sanchez just outside the area and curled a shot into the top corner.
It was his first goal for the club and his long-range shooting ability could be a much-needed weapon that Arsenal can use to help stretch defences.
The former Basel star is also vital to Hector Cuper’s quest to qualify Egypt for the Gabon 2017 African Nations Cup, with two decisive games against Nigeria around the corner.
The 23-year-old star is expected to team up with his mates after this weekend’s match against Everton in the English Premier League.
Already, Cuper has picked him as some of the stars to confront the Nigerian armada in Kaduna on March 26 and Alexandria three days later.