Arsene Wenger believes Mohamed Elneny has proven that he can perform on the big stage and is likely to be given his third start in consecutive fixtures against Watford in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup at the Emirates Stadium. The Egyptian has been an ever-present member in the FA Cup squad, starting against Burnley and Hull City following his move from Basel in January and was also pitted alongside Francis Coquelin against Tottenham at White Hart Lane.
The 23-year-old coped well with the high pressure of the match before a moment of madness from Coquelin saw the Frenchman being sent off, putting the game in jeopardy. With Ramsey out for another four weeks, Elneny is expected to take up a pivotal role in the Arsenal midfield, at least till the likes of Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere are back to fitness to start for the first team. Mikel Arteta and Tomas Rosicky are also unavailable with no date given for their availability before the end of the season.
Cazorla expects to be back early in April, having recovered from a knee injury he picked up against Norwich in November while Wilshere is being eased into the first team. Mathieu Flamini is the other option who can play in the Arsenal midfield but Wenger is likely to go with the pairing of Elneny and Coquelin for the ties against Barcelona and Everton the coming week, which can decide the fate of their season.
"He looks like he is ready to play," the manager told Arsenal's official website. "I consider every formula that is possible to give us a balance. At the moment I think Elneny in central midfield can cope.
"We have Flamini, we have Coquelin who can cope as well. They have shown [that] already. The formula can change as well if needed but that depends on the games. Every game will be different now.
"In our job, you want to perform in the next game and the next game is an important one because we have fought hard to get there and that is our purpose. After that we deal with the next one.
"If you have a good run, you sometimes absorb them without any problems. If you have a bad result, of course there is no time to digest sometimes and to get the belief back in the squad. We want to do that and what is very important is to be in there and have a chance to show how good you are," he added.
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