Deschamps May Risk Diaby, Coquelin Wants To Play And The Ox Admonished
It’s a weekend without Arsenal in action. The next round of World Cup qualifiers take place on Tuesday, subsequent to which players will head back to the Emirates. Hopefully all of them will return with bones, muscle, tissue and ligaments intact so we can continue our good start to the season when we host Southampton in six days time.
Didier Deschamps wants to play an exhausted Abou Diaby against Belarus, something which will concern Arsene Wenger. After a long period out, two games in the space of four days could prove too stressful for the midfielder. Les Bleus have enough options on the bench with M’Vila and Cabaye more than capable of filling in so the sensible thing would be to start without Diaby and introduce him later in the game if the situation demands.
But Deschamps is as enamored with Diaby as Wenger is and France’s new coach will be keen to build on Friday’s victory over Finland so one can understand his insistence on starting Abou. Many thousand Arsenal fingers will be crossed Tuesday evening, let’s hope the 26-year-old comes through unscathed.
Speaking of French midfielders, young Francis Coquelin has given himself until January to cement a place in Arsenal’s starting eleven failing which the 21-year-old may consider leaving the club. Arsenal have already extended his contract six months ago and Arsene Wenger has assured the player he’s very much part of the Gunners’ plans this season.
Nevertheless, barring injuries it will be difficult for Coquelin to claim a starting place anytime soon. With Arteta doing a stellar job further back in midfield, Diaby indispensable when fit and Cazorla getting his Arsenal career off to a fantastic start, the soonest Francis can expect a look-in will be at the end of September when Arsenal host Coventry City in the League Cup.
Based on his performances at the end of last season, there was a possibility the Coq could start at right-back in the absence of Bacary Sagna. But although Carl Jenkinson hasn’t been spectacular, the former Charlton youngster has done well enough in the first three games to deserve his place in the starting line-up.
Arsene Wenger’s dilemma is further compounded by the fact that Coquelin did not have the best of pre-seasons. And when he played for France U-21s on Friday, the youngster managed to get sent off in a 2-1 loss to Slovakia. Perhaps the frustration of sitting on the bench after an impressive end to last season is playing on the midfielder’s mind.
Personally I hope he gets his chance and stays at Arsenal. He’s got all the attributes to become a successful midfielder – good passing range, constant movement off the ball, dynamism on the ball and excellent work rate. While Arteta will continue to remain vital in the short-term, Francis Coquelin could be his long-term successor in that distributor role deeper in midfield. If the youngster can improve his tackling ability and curb his impetuousness, Alex Song’s departure is likely to benefit Coquelin more than any other player.
Elsewhere, another Arsenal youngster is receiving both praise and criticism for his latest performance for country. Apparently, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was lauded for his attacking display and criticized for his defensive work rate by manager Roy Hodgson after England’s 3-0 victory over Moldova. The England manager is also seemingly unhappy with the 19-year-old for failing to out in a good shift in the second half knowing in advance he would be substituted after 15 minutes.
Without being too harsh on the Ox, you have to say it’s something that’s been noticeable in his Arsenal career as well. Especially when he starts matches. Although the youngster can dazzle in patches, his second half performances rarely live up to the promise shown in the first half. Possibly it’s a matter of fitness as the cramp at Anfield might suggest but if Alex wants to start games regularly, he will need to be far more consistent over 90 minutes.
More tomorrow. Until then.