Saturday, December 10, 2022

“He’s shown what he’s capable of” – Arteta impressed by new boy Lokonga

Having racked up 684 minutes across 11 appearances this season, Sambi Lokonga has quietly become an important member of Arsenal’s first team squad.

Still only 22, the summer signing from Anderlecht probably wasn’t expecting to see so much action but with Granit Xhaka sidelined by a knee injury until 2022 and Mo Elneny and Thomas Partey set to take part in January’s African Cup of Nations, his quick adjustment to Premier League life has been very important.

Mikel Arteta has been impressed by what the Belgian, who was recruited after positive feedback from Vincent Kompany, has brought to the Gunners midfield.

“Sambi has shown a really quick adaptation, a lot of intelligence in his game and courage,” said Arteta ahead of Sunday’s match with Watford.

“He’s a player that is constantly trying to affect the game in the right way.

“It was a big task to ask him to play the amount of minutes that he’s done in the league in such a short time.

“He’s shown that he’s capable of doing it and handled the situation really, really impressively.”

Who knows, if he can stay fit and keeps up his current form, there’s a pretty high chance Lokonga could end this season as the club’s most consistent presence in the heart of midfield.

Having been tied down to a long-term contract when he signed for £16 million, it bodes well for the future.

Interestingly, in a new interview with Belgian site Sud Info, Sambi has revealed just how much research Arsenal did on him before negotiations began in earnest.

“I was almost a little surprised that they knew me so well, even though now, with data, all the clubs have a lot of data on each player,” he said.

“During this discussion, the coach made it clear that he was counting on me.

“He told me that I would get playing time, which was important to me, and that it was up to me to perform on the pitch to get as much as possible.”

We’ve certainly been true to our word.

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C.B.

He’s strong and athletic, something we’ve needed for a long time in midfield, since the days of Gilberto, Vieira and Petit.

Hope he keeps improving and keeps his place.

Abdullah

Ohhhhh Sambi Lokongaaaa

Heir apparent to the most brilliant chant in recent times.

Pastor Simon

The lad is a joy to watch. By the time he is 25, He will be unplayable… The future is bright and even This season, Europe is guaranteed with the way we are playing now

Henkamp

Nothing is EVER guaranteed — especially where football is concerned.

Prakhar

Sambi can do a bit of everything. We have lacked that in midfield. Ability to carry & dribble as well as distribute. Defensively capable of operating as a holding midfielder. Potential is there to go World-class!

Thierry Bergkamp (non negotiable)

People talk about Partey being the new Vieira. I don’t remember if it was the Villa match, but Sambi had me thinking it was the most Vieira like performance I’ve seen from an Arsenal player. He showed a bit of everything, minus the size and physical dominance

mc1892

I’ve been a bit disappointed with Partey this season to be honest. His passing has been pretty poor (relative to what we were expecting/ saw at OT last season), I really don’t like that long, looping/ draw pass he always plays out to Saka. Wastes precious seconds for him to wait for it to arrive and bring it under control. I know there were some really crucial blocks last week, but he’s still not been the presence I was expecting. I’d even go as far to say he looks a bit pedestrian at times. Am I just expecting too much?

mc1892

/ seeing things wrong it appears haha

Gunnermite

This simple test will help you; try all our midfield combinations minus Partey and come back with your findings.

Johan

yes, and if you applied that test to Xhaka over the past five years, you might well be drawing a similar conclusion.

ARW

I think you are right in the fact his passing hasn’t been as crisp. I think he has been playing a slightly different role, more breaking up play and for some reason when he’s playing that role his passes aren’t as sharp or accurate. I do think he has played that role really well though. When xhaka and partey play together I think we see the best of partey; not to take anything away from Sambi, what a talent he is. I just feel patey feels a little more secure alongside xhaka, not wearing the slightly more panicked last man… Read more »

The Beast

I agree that some of his passing hasn’t been up to scratch & a bit frustrating at times but I wouldn’t say he’s been pedestrian so far this season.

Personally I think he’s probably the best in our squad for working the ball out of tight areas close to our box when we’re looking to counter, like he did on our 2nd goal against Leicester. Strangely for me it’s the simpler passes that he gets wrong from time to time.

mc1892

The ball carrying/ dribbling transformation in this team is crazy. A year ago we had.. Maybe 1 player who could do that? I’m not including Pepe as I don’t necessarily think that’s a strength of his (though he definitely does). Tierney was the only guy who would consistently beat his man.
Fast forward 12 months and we’ve got ESR, Saka, Sambi, Tierney, Tavares (based on a very small sample size). Really changes the dynamic of the team when you’ve got that threat from so many different angles, it’s great.

Aaron

Brilliant signing.
Has the physique and the nous to play the midfield role. The closest to a Vieira we have had in a long time.

Long May it continue and wish him all the luck in staying injury-free.

Havyn

Don’t know why you brought Elneny in. Elneny has been here for years but never improved. Whether African Nations Cup or not Lokonga is ahead of him. He should’ve gone last summer but he wanted big money so he has chosen to sit on the bench and pocket his weekly wages.

Raje

Elneny is a squad player willing to sit in the benches and do his part when he is brought in. Such players are hard to find

The Beast

Why would you assume Elneny chose to sit on the bench just for money? Money the club thought his services were worth btw. You his financial advisor?

Limited though he is, he’s never looked as though he wasn’t giving his all whenever he’s come on.

Brady’s bunch

I’d agree with you he’s always been very professional and I have no issues with him being in the squad.

db10s

Yup and every squad needs a hardworker doing the dirty side of things. Happy to fill in when needed.

Arsenal are not the kinda of club that can juggle 4 world class midfielders especially without CL football.

A Different George

I think everyone agrees Elneny is a limited player. But that is really exaggerated sometimes. When he has had some playing time and is match fit, he is an accurate, safe passer–yes, often sideways or back, but he has had matches where he plays much more progressively. He chases back and pops up all over the pitch to make important interceptions. And, most important, he still does this in the 90th minute. You cannot be a top four club if Elneny is your best midfielder. But you might need players like him in the squad.

EmileSmithWhoa

Mo may be a bit down on the list for starting but I bet that with certain set ups he would surprise some people. He is better than given credit for.

SMH

it’s also his role with us. It’s the same with Xhaka, when playing for their country, they are the playmaker, playing nearer to the other goal instead of ours. Both of them do have the ability to play a good through pass, however in our team, we do not have to make do with them as playmaker, we just get someone else to do it and have them play nearer to our goal. Never doubt the dedication of both of them, just like what you said limited overall ability.

Havyn

Sambi has improve his body mass though

The 49th Partey

When I saw Diaby play for Arsenal the first time, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Until then I was sure Viera was the perfect midfielder. Then a lot of bloody bad luck struck and an entire generation of Arsenal midfielders just never hit their true potentials in that 11 years drought. Diaby, Wilshere Flamini, Song, even Ramsey, a Nastri snake and Cobragas never quite did it.
Lokonga reminds me of Diaby, he’s still miles away from Diaby’s class but he’s only getting better with every game. Looking forward to his first man of the match/player of the month plaque. Coyg.

ARW

What a player diaby would of been. Not forgetting the lost potential of eduardo and rosicky.

Filipe

Diaby, Rosick and Cazorla…
Justo só unfair for everyone who loves football…

Filipe

Just so *

db10s

I would say Ramsey too. Post leg break Ramsey looked like a different player.

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