It was one of the injury problems that Arsenal fans had most feared this season, along with other key players like Alexis Sanchez. But with Arsene Wenger having failed (or chosen not) to sign what we think of as a proper defensive midfielder for years, the role of Francis Coquelin in the Arsenal team was seen as perhaps the hardest to fill.
Now we have three months to get by without the French midfield warrior and there has been a lot of talk about who best to use to fill his boots as well whether the boss will need to sign a new DM in the January transfer window. For now at least Wenger must make do with with the options already in our squad.
While the two obvious choices are Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini, once the club captain is fit again after yet another niggling injury, the manager has mentioned that Calum Chambers might be a good option as he has been getting used to the position in training.
Quite a few people have also suggested that Aaron Ramsey, just back out the treatment room himself, might be the best choice but Wenger does not appear to agree with that one. As he explains in an Arsenal.com report, Wenger feels that it would be wrong to play the Welshman in that deeper role because it would be a waste of Ramsey´s main talent.
The Frenchman said, “Ramsey is more an offensive player. I will use him sometimes there [centrally] when the game demands, but is he naturally with Cazorla a balanced pair? Defensively, certainly, it’s a very adventurous one!
“I used Ramsey on the right because he gives us a balance, because we have Ozil who is an offensive player, we have Sanchez, we have Giroud or Walcott and Cazorla so to balance a bit defensively, I use Ramsey on the right. That’s where I will certainly continue to use him.
“He is not afraid to tackle but he likes to go in the box and he has a good timing of runs and he wants the ball and he wants to go forward. If you take that out of him, and you say ‘look, you have to sit now, and sit there and wait,’ you kill his strengths.
“He [Ramsey] can do [the deeper role]. It is not that he cannot do it, but he can do it [more effectively] with Coquelin. Cazorla can [play alongside] Coquelin.
“Cazorla and Ramsey is a bit [attack-minded] and you know in my mind I have seen that the turn of our results last season was when I went for a bit of stability and put Coquelin in there. Now I am a bit cautious on that front and I do not want to unbalance the team.
“Arteta is not a Coquelin-type but he is a tactical player who loves to sit now because he is less [focused on] going forward.
“In my mind I always had Arteta and Flamini and Coquelin. But Arteta was injured so I played always Coquelin. Now with Arteta and Coquelin both injured we are of course a bit short. That’s why I play Chambers for 10 or 12 minutes to see how he positions and we are happy because he can do it.”
So have Arsenal got enough without Ramsey to cover for Coquelin?