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Elneny, Wenger speak ahead of FC Basel clash
Elneny, who spent three years at FC Basel before moving to Arsenal last January, will face his former side in the Champions League at Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.
The Egypt international revealed to Arsenal’s official Website that he is excited to play against Basel, stressing that he enjoyed his time in the Swiss capital both on and off the field.
“I have good memories of my time playing for them. It will be a good opportunity to see everyone again and the fans, who I have a very good relationship with,” Elneny told Arsenal official website.
In a place he spent three years at, he feels that he credits Basel with his development, gaining experience in both the Europa League and Champions League.
“I didn’t have a lot of experience before I moved to Basel. I learned a lot and gained plenty of experience playing for them in both the Champions League and Europa League.
“I also learned how to be more punctual both on and off the pitch, and not to fear any opponent we face. I liked the club and enjoyed my time there,” he added.
Elneny also spoke about his close relationship with fellow Egyptian international and current Basel defender Omar Gaber.
“Omar is like a brother to me, ever since we played together for the Egyptian youth team,” he said.
The Arsenal midfielder described his compatriot as a “talented” player and expected he will succeed at Basel.
“I told him when he moved there that he will like it at Basel and the people will support him. He’s a good player and I wish him all the best,” Elneny added.
Another Arsenal player who has close ties with Basel is Granit Xhaka. Not only did Granit go through the youth ranks and play for Basel’s senior team, but also Taulant Xhaka, Granit’s older brother, still plays there.
Wenger said in his pre-match conference that former Basel players Xhaka and Elneny helped him better understand the Swiss champions.
“Xhaka plays against Xhaka tomorrow, and so it’s a family job basically…I think they might hide each other some truths as well, but of course we know Basel well because we bought Elneny last season from Basel,” Wenger said.
“It’s the team that has dominated the Swiss championship for years, and they have had excellent results in England because they have beaten everybody – Man United and Chelsea and [drawn against] Liverpool. So they have made strong results in Europe,” he added.
The Arsenal manager added that midfielder Francis Coquelin wouldn’t be included in the match’s squad due to injury. This might give a bigger opportunity for both Elneny and Xhaka to play more minutes.
“He is out for the game tomorrow, but it should be a short-term injury because the scan was quite positive and I think it will be three weeks out,” Wenger said.
Arsenal and Basel are together in Group A with PSG and Ludogorets Razgrad. After matchday 1, all teams are tied at one point apiece.