The last couple of days or so has seen a meltdown of almost catastrophic proportions across the Arsenal fan base due to the injury of our seemingly only capable midfield enforcer Francis Coquelin. The knee injury sustained by our ‘police officer’ has many believing that our title challenge could suffer greatly as a consequence, although I believe this is a rather ridiculous analogy after the loss of only one player.
However, this does not mean that Arsene Wenger and his merry men will not feel the force of being ‘Coq-blocked’ themselves. Coquelin’s impact upon our team has been incredibly influential with most of us fans agreeing that we had finally found a solution to our ongoing DM fiasco. This fiasco unfortunately become a stern reality once again in the aftermath of that fateful visit to West Brom but with the run of fixtures we are about to embark on being against inferior opposition, we may not feel the full force of not having a talented DM. Or we could suffer greatly in typical Arsenal fashion, you just never know at times with this club.
Nevertheless, why the loss of only a single player may not impact upon a team as a whole it can have a significant impact upon a team mate with whom they have forged an effective partnership. Just look at how Mertesacker suffers whenever Koscielny is stricken to the medical room. Partnerships can be crucial to a players form and impact upon the team which in my opinion means that Coquelin’s midfield partner Santi Cazorla could be in for a difficult period. Although it could be argued this difficult period begun against Spurs with Le Coq still in the line up!
A partnership is broken, at least for a few months anyway
The Coq-Caz partnership in the heart of midfield has been a building block for success in recent months for Arsenal. The unlikely duo have forged an understanding which has become crucial in providing a combative yet pragmatic pairing in the heart of Arsenal’s midfield which has earned widespread acclaim.
I have said many times on this website how crucial Cazorla’s impact next to Coquelin has been for this Arsenal side, it was a position change which seemed strange at first but sometimes you just have to trust Wenger’s decisions. It was a bold move but it worked, much to our satisfaction.
However, now that this partnership has been sadly interrupted by yet another cursed injury we could see Cazorla’s impact from this deep role decline as he tries to adjust to the loss of Coquelin. Against West Brom when Arteta was brought on for what was in truth a dreadful cameo we saw first-hand a midfield pairing that was certainly not up to the standard of Arsenal football club.
Yes both Arteta and Cazorla can play the pretty passes which has led to then being described ever so regularly as the ‘distributors’ but it was glaringly obvious that the required energy levels and willingness to defend and cover the necessary space was not there.
The defensive nous seemed to be sucked out of our midfield as Le Coq hobbled off and despite Flamini coming on and trying to provide some steel it still wasn’t the same, especially for Santi. Mathieu may have recently become a billionaire but it has been clear for some time that as a team we do not function correctly with him in the line-up, unless were playing Spurs away that is.
In essence Coquelin’s injury could have just as much of an impact upon Santi as it does upon the player himself and it is an issue which Wenger will have to solve if we are to sustain this title challenge.
Ramsey’s central reintroduction could be vital
A solution to this problem may be that our returning Welshman Aaron Ramsey is shifted back into a central role. The energy Rambo brings to the heart of midfield could be exactly what we need in light of Coqeulin’s absence. It is true that Ramsey places his attacking prowess above his defensive duties but he is more than capable of filling a void in a deeper role in our time of need.
Lest we forget Rambo’s best spell at the club came from a deeper central role where he became a combative goal scoring machine which was earning universal acclaim and was turning Arsenal into a serious force. His injury in the 2013/14 season was the main cause for our collapse in my humble opinion.
Even though he has performed admirably on the right hand side this season it seems written in the stars that the next few months should be spent central for Rambo. His partner? Well Arteta forged a rather effective duo with Ramsey with his passing abilities and calmness perfectly complementing the Welshman in recent seasons. While Flamini will no doubt be helped by the tireless legs of Ramsey as a source of vital protection which he most defiantly requires if he is to play a part within this set up.
An option that could be explored is a Rambo Santi double pivot, this has been experimented with before and despite the obvious lack of defensive capabilities it could be a viable option against lower quality opposition, which we are facing in the next few weeks.
It will be interesting and a tad nervous for fans to see who fills in these midfield positions for the months to come, Santi could turn his form around and find solace in a new midfield partner but this to me seems unlikely.
Over to you Mr. Wenger to try and solve an issue which has left me and many other fans scouring for options but with no definite answer.