In what could prove to be a real turning point in the season, Francis Coquelin looks set to make his first Premier League start since injuring himself in November, as reported by the Evening Standard.
We’ve been without the Frenchman for months following his knee injury against West Bromwich Albion, and his absence has unquestionably been noticeable. We’ve been overly reliant on Mathieu Flamini over the past couple of months, and that has certainly been to our detriment.
Calum Chambers has shown he’s able and willing to do a job in defensive midfield, but Arsene Wenger has kept faith in Flamini for some bizarre reason. The ageing French midfielder even got the nod against Southampton in midweek, and although he didn’t make any major mistakes, we look a far weaker side when Flamini starts.
Coquelin however, is arguably one of the finest defensive midfielders in the game at the moment, and the news that he’s set to start our clash with Bournemouth is a huge boost. The 24-year-old started our FA Cup game against Burnley last weekend and made a cameo appearance against Southampton. He should be fit enough to start against the Cherries too, and we badly need him back too.
Flamini isn’t the worst player in the world, but he’s been completely ineffective in midfield, shown a complete lack of discipline, and his age is certainly catching up with him. His inability to do the job alone – combined with his tendency to wander forward – means other players have to cover for him, and his shortcomings definitely meant Aaron Ramsey had less freedom.
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The acquisition of Mohamed Elneny should also help push Flamini out of the team, but our top priority is to get Coquelin back in the side and performing at his best once again. He’s a game changer on his day, and that’s not something you often hear about a defensive midfielder.