Will the absence of Francis Coquelin hurt Arsene Wenger?
After taking charge of the Gunners in 1996, Arsene Wenger has brought success to the club in his reign multiple times. But he has not been able to win the Premier League in over 10 years and the supporters and critics alike are always quick to point it out. In the last two seasons, Arsenal have looked like giving the Premier League leaders a run for their money but have not been able to lift the grand trophy. They however, have found success in the FA Cup in two cosecutive seasons.
This season, in summer, Arsene Wenger was in no mood to spend big as he welcomed just one player in the form of Petr Cech. The squad looked weakened comparatively to the other top flight clubs and the fans were a bit circumspect. But come the start of the season, the club has played some scintillating football brushing aside teams in the domestic league. Their biggest moment this season came in the Champions League trophy group stage victory against German giants Bayern Munchen at the Etihad.
The manager has also managed to find the right combination in wake of injuries to several first team players. Danny Welbeck, Thomas Rosicky, Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain are all on the side lines. But more recently, the club has lost two of its holding midfielders in Francis Coquelin and Mikel Arteta in the same game against West Browich Albion.
All these injuries are sure to hamper the progress of the club but none more than their in-form defensive midfielder Coquelin. The French International has been an important player for the Gunners so far this season. Sitting in front of the back four, Coquelin’s role in the team is not only to provide cover for his defensive line but to also keep the game running when Arsenal are passing the ball around.
The midfielder has been in top form for his club as he has often bridged the gap between the defense and attack for the Gunners. He is responsible for breaking up play in the midfield and to try and find the right pass to his front line. Coquelin does this almost to perfection as he and Santi Cazorla work in tandem to get Arsenal going when under pressure.
Coquelin has been at the heart of the midfield for Arsenal and has appeared in 12 games so far this season. He has completed 342 forward passes at a success rate of 91%. This stat shows his importance in getting the ball up front from within their own half. He has also been superb in defense as he averages almost 3 tackles per game, which is among the highest in the league this season. He has also made 32 clearances in his 12 games which is also on the higher side for a midfielder.
Coquelin’s future at the club was also in discussion before the start of the season but his performances in the first quarter of the season have shown that he is capable of making the Arsenal side stronger. To lose someone of this caliber will always hurt a side and Arsene Wenger will get to know about it sooner rather than later as he has almost minimal depth in the squad in this position.
Wenger has announced that his midfielder will be out till at least the turn of the year at a time where the transfer market will be open. The number of injuries to his squad will surely tempt Wenger to make some investments and the holding midfield area will surely be of some concern. There are not too many players at the moment in Europe that can better the offerings of Coquelin but his injury prone career may make Wenger re-think about his transfer strategy.
There are 2 months of intense football left for the Gunners before the return of their favored defensive midfielder and it will not be easy for anyone in the squad to replace Coquelin in his current form. But Wenger is short of options and will surely hope that his players are fit and ready to play as quickly as possible. If injuries continue to hamper the club, Wenger will surely have to come up with a plan B and start thinking about back up players for each position.
The absence of Coquelin may not hurt the club as much as the absence of players like Sanchez and Ozil would but the work rate and responsibility of a Francis Coquelin can never be under-estimated. His loss may prove to be a huge factor in Arsenal’s season and Wenger will have his work cut out in the festive season that has games in a glut. It will not be easy for the Gunners to approach the English festive season with so many injuries and these fixtures can well decide the outcome at the end of the league.
If they are able to come out of that fixture list with minimal damage and with their best defensive midfielder ready for a come-back, Arsenal will surely pose a serious title challenge at the later part of the season. Leave your opinion on how the absence of Coquelin will affect the London franchise.
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