It is bad enough that Arsenal continue to pick up injuries more often than Cristiano Ronaldo picks up a mirror, but we also seem to get a spate of players in the same area ruled out at the same time. Like having to face Borussia Dortmund without our two best keepers Szczesny and Ospina. Or losing the right back Debuchy and centre back Laurent Koscielny for the last few weeks.
And now it is the central midfield area that looks dangerously exposed, after losing Jack Wilshere and Mikel Arteta to long term injuries in the last two games. With Abou Diaby still not fit enough to feature in the match day squad, Arsene Wenger’s options are almost non existent.
Aaron Ramsey for Wilshere and Mathieu Flamini for the captain are direct and obvious replacements, although on current form they are slightly inferior substitutes, but Rambo looked a lot better against Dortmund and you would expect them to be adequate cover. THe problem is that after them, who do we have? Perhaps Oxlade-Chamberlain could do Ramsey’s job, although he does not have the same defensive discipline and then you are looking at academy players like Zelalem.
But the deep lying midfield role has even less cover, except for Francis Coquelin who was sent on loan to Charlton Athletic on November 3rd. THe good news is that it was for just a month initially, meaning that we can and surely will recall the 23-year old. With the run up to and during the festive fixture list, the French midfielder is bound to get a few chances to show what he can do in an Arsenal shirt.
So the decision to send him on loan could be a great one, as he has played and impressed in all three games since the move and is likely to start against Ipswich this weekend as well. Coquelin will return to the Emirates with match sharpness and hopefully self belief.
He might not be available for the visit of Southampton on Wednesday, but then we have Stoke next weekend with games against Newcastle, Liverpool, QPR and West Ham before the new year. So will Coquelin’s recall help the Gunners through this injury ravaged period?