It has been an up and down season for this Arsenal side so far, and their defensive work isn’t exactly winning many awards. The Gunners have yet again been hit with a number of serious injuries and suspensions, meaning manager Arsene Wenger has had to improvise with his back four on too many occasions.
Long-term injuries to both Matthieu Debuchy and Laurent Koscielny was the initial worry, after the two first-choice defenders were set to the sidelines during the opening days of October.
Callum Chambers has been forced to step up into the first team immediately, which is something Wenger didn’t want to do just yet, after the Englishman was bought as back up to his counterpart Debuchy.
An out of form Mertesacker and the inexperience of both Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal is one of the reasons Arsenal have conceded 11 goals in 10 games in the Premier League, the highest of all top four teams.
So what next for the Gunners? Kieran Gibbs was our latest injury scare, and the vulnerability of Chambers could lead to another suspension, it’s just a matter of time before we need cover in defensive positions.
I’ve taken a look at five players Arsene Wenger could deploy to help out a defence in need of a lifeline.
1. Francis Coquelin
Squad Number: 22
Preferred Position: Right-back/Centre Defensive Mid
Originally brought in as a centre defensive midfielder, Coquelin brings to Arsenal what a number of players can’t boast. Versatility. Signed in 2008 after completing a trial spell, he joined up with the team before heading out on loan to Lorient and Freiburg, where he gained regular first team football.
Coquelin has experience playing right back, left-back and just in front of the defence, so has a keen knowledge of positioning and understanding of how to read the game. At 23, he is nearly hitting his peak ability of around 26, so we know there is still more to come from him.
He prefers his right foot but is just as good on the left, meaning he won’t have to keep cutting in if he does ever cover Gibbs at left-back. Fans already know his name and what he can do, so it wouldn’t come as a shock to see him used at any point this season.
He is now on loan at Charlton until December 1st, but could return and make an impact.
Is he ready?
Having already played a number of games in an Arsenal shirt, Coquelin isn’t new to a first-team match day experience, so it won’t come as a big culture shock to him. He is ready-made to play, gaining confidence from Wenger using him on the bench so many times this season just in case.
The only fixture he has started though was in the Capital One Cup defeat to Southampton, where he played the full 90 minutes at left back.