Francis Coquelin’s Injury: How Will Arsenal Cope in his Absence
There’s nothing more frustrating than seeing the injuries pile up at Arsenal. Before the weekend’s loss to West Brom, the Gunners were without Jack Wilshere (ankle), Tomas Rosicky (knee), Danny Welbeck (knee), Aaron Ramsey (hamstring), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring) and Theo Walcott (calf). These are players that are vital to the team but Arsene Wenger’s side had soldiered on without them but as if losing to West Brom wasn’t bad enough, the Gunners lost two more midfielders in the game with the aging Mikel Arteta suffering from yet another calf strain and most importantly, Francis Coquelin, suffering a knee injury.
Coquelin was doing his bit to control the game but in his bid to recover possession after being sloppy with the ball, he clashed with West Brom’s Claudio Yacob and came out second best. According to the folks present at the Hawthorns, Coquelin left the West Midlands on clutches. He has also undergone scans to assess the extent of the injury and tests have shown up substantial ligament damage.
There has been some swelling on the knee and further tests would be taken when the swelling subsides. The initial prognosis shows that Coquelin could be out for as much as three months, which will be a massive blow to the Gunners. It has been a fairy tale year for the French midfielder as he was recalled from his loan at Charlton amid another injury crisis and he established himself as an indispensable player in the squad.
Coquelin didn’t only become a figurehead at Arsenal, but he was right on par with the very best in the Premier League. The table below showcases Coquelin’s defensive stats with Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic, Manchester United’s Morgan Schneiderlin and Manchester City’s Fernandinho.
|Premier League Only||Coquelin||Matic||Schneiderlin||Fernandinho|
|Appearances (subs)||12 (0)||10 (2)||10 (1)||12 (1)|
|Tackles made (per game)||3.2||3.5||3.0||4.0|
|Interceptions made (per game)||2.7||1.9||3.1||1.5|
|Fouls committed (per game)||0.9||1.8||2.5||3.3|
|Dribbled Past (per game)||1.1||1.1||1.1||1.3|
|Clearances (per game)||0.9||1.5||1.7||0.8|
|Aerial Duels Won (per game)||0.8||1.8||1.0||0.5|
|Blocked shots (per game)||0.3||0.1||0.3||0|
|Pass Completion percentage||91.5%||89.6%||90.7%||89.2%|
|Long Balls (per game)||2.6||2.2||4.6||1.8|
Coquelin has a better pass completion percentage than these guys and he commits the least amount of fouls, which shows how his tackling and interceptions have improved. Losing a player like Coquelin is a bitter blow for the club because his unique style of play – the anchorman role, and he has become so good to the extent that the manager didn’t see the need to invest in another holding midfielder this summer.
With Arteta all washed up and Mathieu Flamini not a dependable outlet to use in midfield, the only plausible thing for the manager to do will be to deploy Aaron Ramsey alongside central midfield with Santi Cazorla, thereby allowing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain a chance on the wings. The only issue would be whether Ramsey would have the positional awareness and discipline to play in the holding role.
With Coquelin potentially out till late January / early February, one wonders if Arsene Wenger would delve into the transfer market to purchase a new holding midfielder. Only time will tell but for now, we have to brace ourselves for life without the Coq, and it’s never fun when you can’t use your Coq (pun intended).
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