Yesterday Arsène delivered his injury news update via the official site and, quite deliciously, it included confirmation that everyone bar Santi and Jack are back in training. So that’s Rosicky, Welbeck and ahead of schedule our midfield destroyed Francis Coquelin.
I can’t tell you how pleased I am. Well, I can, via this blog, but you get my meaning. This is fantastic news and I’ve already seen how much of a boost its given Arsenal fans that I talk to. I’d never go down the route of proclaiming anybody in the squad ‘like a new signing’, but such has been our history with injuries, that I didn’t think we’d see Le Coq until March, whereby he’d need a good couple of weeks of training before he even make the subs bench. I thought we weren’t seeing him until Barcelona at home at the absolute earliest, so to have him available now is awesome. As it is, he’s already completed two weeks of training and by the sounds of it, he’s ready now to be integrated in to the matchday squad.
This changes the dynamic of the team entirely. We’ve looked a little leggy in that anchor of midfield – understandably given Flamini is older and has been asked to play a lot of games – but with the return of Le Coq we have an energetic player who will probably even given Ramsey a run for his money in terms of ground covered each game.
Think about that for a second; two lung-busters in the engine room of our team. That bodes well for the shape of the side I hope. Sure, it won’t have the purr about the engine as a Santi/Coq axis, but it will have the injection in power that should see us out of more scrapes.
Coquelin is better with his distribution than Flamini too. Many other bloggers have noted how the players don’t tend to find Flamini with passes as much as they do with Chambers or even Arteta, but with Coquelin out of the side I expect us to be able to control possession from deeper than we have been doing, which will alleviate a little bit of pressure on the back four too. Coquelin’s return will probably therefore not just have a positive impact on the midfield, but also the defence, as he inspires new confidence from his defenders that thy will be there for him when they need him.
Will he play from the star this weekend? Not sure. Arsène has his options back and I wonder if he’ll give Elneny a run out in midfield instead. The guy seems to have been bought as an understudy to Coquelin and probably more in the mould of Arteta as a long-term replacement, but I doubt Arsène will play both together from the start. I’d be a-ok with Coquelin getting 20 to 30 minutes against Burnley though, with a view to a start against Southampton, hopefully to get our stuttering league form back too.
I also wonder whether Rosicky will play from the start on Saturday too. He’s been out a long time and has only had one 45 minute run out with the under-21s. If it means that he too has a cameo on Saturday, then that would be great, because he’ll get a great reception from us all inside the stadium. Because of his age and his injury proneness, I think many of us take for granted just what he brings to the side. His ability to glide past players, that quick turn of pace and a little bit more energy about his game, makes him the perfect kind of impact player that you need when legs are tiring. I think he’ll be used sparingly for the rest of the season, but having him back will certainly give us a boost and do you know who I think would love having him buzzing around? Mesut Özil. Rosicky is the exact type of player Özil will enjoy playing quick interchanges of football with, because Rosicky has a very quick footballing brain. He’ll make a pass and the millisecond the ball has left his foot he’ll be moving in to a new position to receive it. Whether or not he can make full matches remains to be seen, but as an impact player I think he’ll be called upon once or twice. And that could be big for us.
There’s also the return of Welbeck within the next couple of weeks, which will strengthen our attacking options, and probably surprise a few people too. He’s been out for so long that many have already written his Arsenal career obituary. But I’d ask those people to take a little time observing his past performances, or trying to think back hard about the sort of player he is. He runs channels, he gives energy, he has decent ball control and whilst he’s sporadic in front of goal, he still weighs in with some. I think if he’s given a run of games some people will be plesantly surprised. And isn’t that the best kind of surprised?
Anyway, we’ll get a pre-match presser and more stuff from Arsène today, so let’s hope there’s plenty of positivity about it.
Cheerio for now.