We’ve badly missed Francis Coquelin during his lengthy absence, but the Frenchman could be set for a surprise early return against Burnley in the FA Cup this weekend, according to the Daily Mail.
We’ve been stuck with Mathieu Flamini in defensive midfield for the last few months – although that is partly down to Arsene Wenger, who refused to give Calum Chambers a run in midfield despite the youngster impressing.
We’ve looked far more lightweight and exposed without Coquelin in the side, and it’s fantastic news that he’s returned to training ahead of schedule. A start against Burnley seems unlikely, but we may well get to see him making an appearance off the bench. This could put him in good stead to retake his place in the coming weeks, and perhaps even see him start the Premier League game against Southampton next week.
We’ve been without Coquelin since November, when he suffered a rather innocuous looking knee injury. It obviously turned out to be far worse than first feared though, and we’ve seen just how important he is to the side during his absence.
The Mail’s report suggests Coquelin will either feature in the FA Cup or for the Under-21s clash with Stoke, but we’re all hoping we’ll get to see him on the bench for Burnley.
The signing of Mohamed Elneny should obviously ease some of the burden on Coquelin, but the Egyptian international may well take some time to settle in. The sooner Coquelin returns the better, although we obviously need to avoid rushing him back and injuring him again.
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Burnley looked like a relatively decent draw when the fourth round was first announced, but they’ve been on an incredible run of form recently. Their last four wins in the Championship have been 4-0, 5-0, 3-1, and 4-1, with the latter coming against promotion candidates Derby.
Their impressive goalscoring form suggests we’ll need to be tight at the back, so Coquelin featuring would certainly be a boost.
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Should the 24-year-old be handed some game time against Sean Dyche’s side? Or would it be better to continue easing him back in?