Evening all and Happy Christmas Eve. A bit of a short post today and I’ll get straight to it.
When Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla were both ruled out with long-term knee injuries recently, my initial thought was: ‘Boll*cks. There goes the season’. Mainly because our fine form over the last 12 months had been built on their partnership in the middle of midfield and they seemed to dovetail and complete one another’s game like Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny behind them.
But over the last few games, Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini have proven themselves very able replacements indeed, as we’ve racked up wins over Olympiacos, Sunderland, Aston Villa and Manchester City. And Coquelin spoke to Arsenal Player to explain why he thinks the Ramsey-Flamini axis works so well. He said:
Every player is different but the most important thing is that the team continue to do well. They have both come into the middle. Aaron was playing a bit more out wide and he probably prefers to play centrally so he’s doing extremely well. Mathieu is also playing well and they have shown great stuff since the day they came into the team together in midfield. You can see the results and we have had big wins like the game against Manchester City. This season that is the good thing, that everyone’s going in the right direction, and that we know we have quality. If someone gets injured, the spirit in the squad is really good. As soon as someone comes in, they put a shift in and you can see that even when we lose a lot of players, because the team is still really strong. That’s really good for what we want to achieve, to win the title, so it’s great to be able to count on everyone. The good thing is that everyone gets along with each other in the squad and that makes a lot of things easier. When you go to tell someone off, you do it and everyone takes it in a good way. We all want to go in the same direction. It’s a great partnership. Aaron is a little bit more offensive. Mathieu was getting forward a bit more compared to what he did in the first games he played, but against Manchester City he showed a lot of discipline to play really well. He’s really important in big games and they both showed great quality, which is really good for the next game coming up.
You’ve got to love the ‘togetherness’ vibes emanating from London Colney at the moment and long may they continue to flourish. A happy camp always bodes well for results but from a footballing point of view it’s great to see that the team is capable of absorbing injury blows, readjusting, and continuing to produce positive results.
I haven’t studied the stats but I’d guess we enjoy less possession without Cazorla and Coquelin, because they’re both more comfortable in possession and efficient in distribution than the players they’ve been replaced by, but then the new duo bring different qualities to the table themselves. Ramsey’s superior goals and assists output compared to Cazorla for instance, or Flamini’s greater experience of top-flight football over Coquelin. Whether Ram and Flam can be as consistent a pair as Caz and Coq have been this calendar year remains to be seen, but they’ve certainly started faultlessly.
The next big test will be against Victor Wanyama and co. on Boxing Day when we travel to Southanpton and I’ll preview the game on the day, but for now that’s it from me.
See you soon.