Om Ali, come to mama

I’m a little excited here, I have to admit it.

Today, Arsenal announced the signing of Mohamed Elneny, albeit with the ominous words, “The transfer is subject to the completion of regulatory processes.” Elneny joins Arsenal from Swiss club FC Basel.

Here’s Elneny, looking fine in his Arsenal kit.

Elneny, one of our own. Source:

There is a high likelihood that this will be the only acquisition during the winter transfer window, but that doesn’t dim my enthusiasm. I’m delighted that Arsene Wenger got on with it quickly, identified his greatest area of weakness, selected his man, and obtained him with little drama.

I’m equally delighted that Mohamed is a defensive midfielder, a position for which we currently find ourselves short, and where we face some needed transition as Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini, show signs of physical deterioration that signal the end in the not-so-distant future. Mohamed is 23 years old, not an inexperienced youngster, but a player with prime years ahead of him.

I’m also happy to see the video that Arsenal released of him. I’ve been around the block a few times and understand that every player looks good in his best moments. (Remember the amazing highlight video Arsenal circulated of Marouane Chamahk? He even lived up to it, for at least five minutes…. Come to think of it, with the right music and video effects I probably seem gazelle-like just walking to the train.) Now, I’d be a little happier if a video of a defensive midfielder showed a few more crunching tackles and interceptions rather than sweet passes and rocket shots that hit the back of the net from distance, but I guess I can welcome a few goals from our new guy.

What made me happiest of all was that he is an Egyptian. As you know, we celebrate Arsenal wins with our Gooner Triumphal Feast, featuring a dish of the country of the player declared to be man of the match. So many European players, so many European dishes, so very similar. So meat and potato-y. My turncoat kids actually have been known to root for an Arsenal loss so I’ll have to make one of their boring favorites for dinner on match day. But Egypt! A new exotic palette of culinary possibility! Surely I’ll be able to turn my kids from traitors into supporters.

I popped open one site with Egyptian recipes. The site had  a remarkable number of recipes, all involving lentils. As you may recall, when we celebrated our win against Sunderland on Saturday, I selected a lentil recipe to celebrate Spaniard Hector Bellerin. I loved it, but it was not well-received around the table.

I popped open another site: Lentils and beans.

At long last, I came upon this site. Now we are talking. Yes, more lentils, but also some other good stuff.

How can you go wrong with a little om ali?


Admittedly, my kids are unlikely to be excited for a Mohamed Elneny man of the match event, but I have excitement enough for all of us.

Arsenal played Liverpool yesterday, a wild match that ended 3-3. Arsenal took the lead after halftime, but allowed a Liverpool goal with only a few minutes to go. Disappointing, but these things happen.

We stay in first place in the Premier League on goal difference. Man City also tied Everton yesterday, but Leicester City beat Tottenham, moving back into second.

This season continues to stay as tight as can be. Let’s hope that Mohamed Elneny provides a bit more of what it takes to set ourselves apart.

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