In a match ultimately overshadowed by our incapacity to close games out, Mohamed Elneny continued to excel in a midfield role, where he has settled in perfectly since his January switch from Basel.
Operating alongside Aaron Ramsey as part of a midfield two, the Egyptian protected the defence whilst Ramsey looked to be the focal point of Arsenal’s attacks with the ball at his feet, looking for options both left and right in possession.
As for his passing, it was typically crisp and accurate whilst he was effective in helping to push the Sunderland players out wide, battling well to reduce the focus on Mertesacker and Koscielny at the back. It became evident that the likes of Wahbi Khazri and Fabio Borini were opting to move away from the centre of the park, more so in the second half, to avoid squandering possession when promising opportunities arose to get forward quickly.
Alongside him, you had a player that has continued to divide opinion with his performances this season. Although admittedly a more attack-minded player, Ramsey seemed keen to get the ball quickly at feet and play forwards – but lost it too often when trying to force near and around the area, which was frustrating to see especially with Arsenal chasing the all-important opener.
It never came in the end, but Elneny made sure to recycle possession by going backwards if required to keep Sunderland players chasing the ball in their attempts to create a chance of their own.
As illustrated by this player dashboard, Elneny had a higher pass success rate (94.3%) than any other starting player on either side and was effective defensively as well as on the front foot.
The Egyptian was intelligent to pick his moments when going forward but also had the engine to track back quickly when needed to support the backline. With two successful take-ons, three successful tackles and two clearances – as well as suffering four fouls – he was tough on the ball and used his hefty frame to good use.
Performances like these just reiterate Elneny’s importance to the side and how he’s rapidly becoming one of our most consistent players with every passing week.