Arsene Wenger: Mohamed Elneny needs to get used to physical play
LONDON -- Arsene Wenger says Mohamed Elneny still needs to get used to the physical aspect of the English game but was pleased with the Egyptian's Arsenal debut in the FA Cup win over Burnley on Saturday.
Elneny started in the 2-1 win at the Emirates, his first appearance since joining from Basel in January for £7 million. The midfielder showed his ability to push forward and tried several shots from distance, but he was also muscled off the ball a couple of times and lost a few challenges in midfield.
"I felt he started a bit cautious, played a bit secure, then became more adventurous and had some good shots on goal," Wenger said after the game. "His mobility, his work rate was exceptional. For the rest, he needs to adjust to the power of the game in the Premier League.
"This was a good welcome today. Certainly he has learned a lot today. It will take him some time to adjust to the power side of our game here, but the intentions, the mobility and the technical level are good."
Wenger also welcomed Francis Coquelin and Alexis Sanchez back to the lineup, with both making their first starts since getting injured in November. Sanchez set up the first goal for Calum Chambers and then scored the winner in the second half as Arsenal advanced to the fifth round and stayed on course for a third-straight FA Cup title.
It showed just how important the Chile forward could be for Arsenal in the second half of the season, and Wenger said the long injury layoff could end up working in the team's favour.
"He had a long rest now. It's true that when he got injured you could see signs of fatigue. Two months' rest I think is a good winter break," Wenger said. "Today he came through well, and you could see that physically he's ready."
Wenger has only lost once in 41 meetings with lower-tier teams in the FA Cup, but Burnley gave Arsenal a scare when they equalised through Sam Vokes in the first half.
"We needed to work," Wenger said. "At the start it looked like it would be easy because we had a lot of the ball and good opportunities around the box. When it got back to 1-1 it became a different game because I think we were a bit shocked, and they gained belief."
Burnley manager Sean Dyche saw his team lose 3-0 at the Emirates in the Premier League last season before being relegated to the Championship, and said his team played with a completely different mindset on Saturday.
"We wanted to be a more awkward customer, and I think we were today. We gave them plenty of problems, created chances, and scored a fine goal," Dyche said.
"A lot of pleasing things, but you come to win no matter where you are. So that's the ultimate disappointment, that we didn't get anything from the game. But overall I was pleased with the performance."
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him @MattiasKaren.