Arsene Wenger believes Mohamed Elneny is starting to show his best form for Arsenal.
The 25-year-old has had to be happy with a place on the fringes of the Arsenal first team since joining from Basel in January 2016.
But this season the Egypt international has taken on a more pivotal role, especially in the Europa League where he has featured in all of the Gunners’ games.
Wenger’s side will face Atletico Madrid in the semi-final of that competition later this month, with Elneny no doubt hopeful of being involved.
He set up both of Arsenal’s goals as they came from two goals down to draw 2-2 with CSKA Moscow in the second leg of their quarter-final on Thursday, helping the Premier League side to a 6-3 aggregate win.
“He a super-popular player and everybody inside the club loves him,” Wenger told the club’s official website.
“But he’s not only loved, he is also a very good player and he showed that in Moscow.
“In the second half in Moscow he played in defence then afterwards, when he moved back into the middle of the park, he gave assists.
“He works hard and is generous. Overall, I think he did very well.”
With 57 caps, Elneny will return to Russia as part of the Egypt World Cup squad this summer and will still be an Arsenal player having extended his contract last month.
Wenger went on to reveal there had been some interest in the midfielder, who saw a late red card in last weekend’s 3-2 Premier League win over Southampton rescinded earlier this week.
“I never wanted him to leave, I always wanted him to stay,” the Arsenal boss added. “I must say that we had demands for him but he always wanted to stay too.
“And I’m very happy (about the red card decision) because I think it was a wise decision and he will be available for Newcastle.”
While the decision to overturn his dismissal means Elneny will be available to feature at St James’ Park, Arsenal could be without two other midfielders.
Granit Xhaka missed the trip to Moscow through illness while Aaron Ramsey played the whole 90 minutes despite requiring staples in a nasty cut to his leg in the first half.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is available having been cup-tied in the Europa League but fellow January recruit Henrikh Mkhitaryan is still sidelined with a knee injury.