Despite admittedly beginning this season in rather assured style, Arsene Wenger and his unpredictable Gunners outfit nonetheless shot themselves in the foot last weekend by losing away at the Hawthorns to a determined West Brom side.
Although Arsenal certainly endured their fair share of misfortune on the day, the manner in which the defeat came couldn’t help but feel distinctly characteristic of the side we’ve become accustomed to over the last few seasons. Whilst the quality has always been there for the Emirates faithful, Wenger’s team simply fall at the least expected of hurdles time and time again with every passing year.
However, although the loss itself will undoubtedly arrive as a source of great frustration in and around the North London club at the minute, news of Francis Coquelin’s potential 12 week lay-off arguably goes down as the worst aspect of the entire defeat. Put in no uncertain terms, the emerging Frenchman was vital to any perceived success the Gunners were hopeful of achieving this term.
[ffc-gal cat=”arsenal” no=”5″]
So will Arsene Wenger manage to rally his troops following the recent bad news at the Emirates, or have Arsenal’s title hopes now gone up in smoke as a result of Coquelin’s upcoming spell on the side-lines?
The Beautiful Game can certainly prove somewhat discouraging at times.
Every single year Arsenal seemingly begin their campaign with a truly promising range of squad depth on offer – but as the usual ‘injury-curse’ comes round to haunt the Emirates faithful at an equally reliable rate each season – the Gunners are invariably left clutching at straws as they approach the end of every season.
Whilst certain members in this current Arsenal squad do in-fact seem suspiciously injury-prone, leaving question marks surrounding the overall mental strength of the players on offer at the Emirates, Francis Coquelin just doesn’t seem like a player who would be side-lined unnecessarily.
The 24-year-old defensive midfielder has simply been a revelation since establishing himself as a first team regular under Wenger. Via his no-nonsense attitude in the middle of the park, ability to break up play consistently, and never-say-die-attitude when the going gets tough – Arsenal will ultimately be left looking vastly more vulnerable without such an important asset on board. In the end, Coquelin’s reliability just isn’t equally matched by the other midfield options on offer to Wenger right now.
The North Londoners have therefore paid big-time for failing to bring a single outfield player to the Emirates this summer. It seemed like a rather questionable decision at the time – and as was largely expected among the wider English footballing community in general – now the Gunners are in a severely weakened position because of it.
Injuries can no longer be considered an excuse at Arsenal. The Emirates faithful have experienced the frustrating phenomenon for quite a sustained period of time now, so the Gunners hierarchy simply should have planned for such an outcome whilst they had the chance over the summer.
Without a defensive midfielder as good as Francis Coquelin on board, Wenger will be forced to rely upon the less than convincing exploits of Mathieu Flamini. Arsenal’s squad looks incredibly thin on the ground all of a sudden – and let’s be honest – far from looking like a successful Premier League title winning side. The club’s genuine title hopes at the start of the season have therefore been damaged significantly.
Be that as it may, however, the January transfer window nevertheless offers Arsene Wenger a way out of his side’s current injury plight. Although bedding in new talent halfway through the season can never be seen as ideal by any accounts, there are still several promising options out there should the Gunners finally see fit to get their much anticipated cheque-book out once again.
If the North London club can manage to tie down one of the many impressive names they’ve been linked with in 2015/16 – including Granit Xhaka, William Carvalho and Lars Bender – then Francis Coquelin’s recent injury could perhaps be seen as a surprise blessing in disguise.
It may force Wenger’s hand in the transfer market somewhat, subsequently improving the overall look of his squad once his French midfield enforcer finally returns to the first team fold.
As Arsenal and high profile transfers don’t always walk together hand-in-hand however, it remains to be seen just how influential the January transfer window will prove at the Emirates this season.