Arsenal’s injury concerns in midfield could be about to grow after Mohamed Elneny was forced off during the club’s FA Cup fifth round victory over Sutton United.
Elneny, starting his first game for the club since returning from Africa Cup of Nations duty with Egypt, partnered Granit Xhaka in midfield as the Gunners took on non-league opposition at Gander Green Lane.
Arsene Wenger aired his concerns over Sutton’s 3G pitch ahead of the match and the Egypt international became its first victim in the first-half. Elneny needed treatment after 31 minutes after turning awkwardly on the artificial turf, but was able to carry on until half-time.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was called upon to replace him in the second-half, with the Gunners going onto secure a 2-0 win through goals from Lucas Perez and Theo Walcott that sets up a quarter-final clash with Lincoln City.
Arsenal are already without two of their midfield options in Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla. Wales international Ramsey suffered a calf injury in the 2-0 defeat to Watford at the end of January while Cazorla remains a long-term absentee having undergone surgery earlier in the season.
If Wenger’s decision to take off Elneny was something more than a precautionary move, the former Basel midfielder will at least have time to recover before Arsenal’s next match. Due to Southampton’s participation in the EFL Cup final, the Gunners have a free weekend coming up before returning to action in a crucial Premier League clash against Liverpool on 4 March.
While Arsenal came through unscathed on what could have been a tricky night at Sutton, Wenger admitted post-match he was unable to enjoy a minute of Monday’s match.
“I don’t really enjoy tonight because we absolutely had to do the job and it is tricky,” the Gunners boss told BT Sport. “It is important for the confidence of the players. At Bayern we were 1-1 and then in the second half it all went wrong so at half time today at 1-0 up it was not finished.”