22nd November 2015: Reports say Coquelin out for 3 months

As if Sunday evening wasn’t depressing enough in it’s own right as we ‘look forward’ to another working week, reports have emerged from France suggesting the knee injury sustained by Francis Coquelin during yesterday’s defeat at West Brom will keep him side-lined for 3 months.

Arsenal fans the world over will be losing their sh*t right now and understandably so, because not only is Coquelin crucial to our side, but we’re approaching the busiest period of the season and as I and many others have been saying since pre-season, not signing another quality defensive midfielder last summer was a massive gamble by the boss.

Well, if tonight’s reports prove true, I’m afraid just like last season when we suffered in the opening months of the campaign having failed to sign another central defender, we’ll only have ourselves to blame. We do have Mathieu Flamini of course for the immediate future, so the Frenchman will now have to up his game and form an understanding with Santi Cazorla until Coquelin returns, or we sign another defensive midfielder.

The alternative would be to ask another player, like Aaron Ramsey for instance, to adapt his game and focus on the type of chasing and intercepting Coquelin’s so good at, or perhaps even see how Calum Chambers fares in front of the defence given that Arsene Wenger has previously suggested he could play there.

That said, the only time I can remember Chambers playing for us in midfield was in the defeat at Southampton a year ago, so if that game is any kind of gauge, we’re better off using that as a very last resort.

In terms of who may be available to buy in January, obviously I have absolutely no clue but I’d suggest even if players aren’t being openly touted by clubs, we ‘make’ them available by bidding high enough.

If, for instance, Sevilla’s Grzegorz Krychowiak has a release clause of say £20m, as reported last summer, then trigger it. Just don’t say nobody good enough was available or we can’t resort to the transfer market every time we sustain an injury.

Of course we can’t, or given our rate of accumulating knocks, we’d have a squad of about 450 players. But with Mikel Arteta and Flamini surely being shown the door at the end of the season, we have a definite need to buy in the defensive midfield area. So do it January rather than July.

Bid for William Carvalho. Or Victor Wanyama. Or whoever the hell is deemed of the required level to play for us, but just get it done. For the record, I haven’t seen enough of Krychowiak, Carvalho or even Wanyama, to have a definitive opinion on their quality or suitability to our side, but the management must already have a good idea of who they’d like and I’d trust their judgement.

Before this news broke this evening, I was planning to go over yesterday’s game again and perhaps take a look at some of the post-match reaction but I think that game is best off consigned to history.

We play Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday so Arsene will have his pre-match press conference tomorrow and we should get more information on Coquelin’s injury then. But for now, we’re forced to envisage the foreseeable future without one of our most important players. And it’s worrying.

See you next week.

12th October 2015: Wenger gets scientific and William Carvalho loves Arsenal

Greetings Gooners. The US space agency NASA has revealed ambitious plans to establish a human colony on Mars by 2030. Can I just be the first to recommend they recruit Diego Costa for the ‘Earth Reliant‘ phase of the mission? Grant a favour for the entire human race and fire the cheat into space.

Speaking of science, Arsene Wenger has been discussing studies into the link between scoring the first goal in a Champions League game and winning the match, as well as which one factor gives a side playing at home the biggest advantage over their visitors. Talking with Arsenal Player, Professor Arsene said:

When you look at the history of all these games, most are decided by the first goal. A new scientific study within the Champions League last year found that, more than ever, the team who scores first wins. Why? Because it puts the team in a very strong position to be able to counter-attack, and that is the easiest way to attack without opening yourself up. Having said that, I think on a longer distance the current numbers about away games will be reversed. I recently read a scientific study that covered all types of sport and what came out was that home teams are still favourites to win games, and not because of the motivational factor of the players but purely because of the support of the crowd. In a variety of sports, they came to the scientific conclusion that the biggest advantage of the team that plays at home is the support of the crowd. That’s not my impression; it’s the result of a scientific study. They eliminated all the other factors that could come in. It was a simple conclusion – it’s the home support that gives the advantage of the team. This home support can also turn against the home team if you don’t start well and if you are 1-0 down, but it also shows that influence is very strong.

Nothing ground-breaking there to be honest, so I’m not sure they needed to bother with a ‘scientific study’ because most football followers would have given you those conclusions if you’d have simply asked them.

Anyway, now we know it’s scientifically proven beyond any shadow of a doubt so we can all rest at ease; positive home support really is like having a 12th man and if we want to beat Bayern Munich next Tuesday, we just need to draw first blood. Simple.

I’m not sure about you, but I’d have preferred a study into why Arsenal win an abnormally low percentage of games when certain referees (Mike Dean) are in charge. The conclusions from that study would have been much more interesting as far as I’m concerned and nowhere near as predictable.

I mean, it could be pure coincidence, it could be that he’s a closet Tottenham fan, or maybe, because he’s just a sh*t ref – but at least we’d know and could rationalize the newest ridiculous decision he gives against the Gunners, which statistically, is certain to be the next time he’s in charge of a game involving us.

Meanwhile, Sporting Lisbon’s defensive midfielder William Carvalho, linked with a move to north London about a billion times over the last few years, has been speaking about his admiration of Arsenal in an interview with Portuguese newspaper A Bola. He said:

I am where I want to be right now, which is Sporting, but if I ever do leave then it’s a sign that my work here was well done. I dream of winning the Primeira Liga here. I prefer not to say too much, but there is a club with which I’ve always been fond of: Arsenal. Because of Thierry Henry, a player with whom I have always enjoyed watching. Maybe this is why I look with so much affection to the Premier League.

I’ve not seen Carvalho play more than a couple of times but according to many observers, he’s a smart, efficient, powerhouse of a performer in the middle of the park, boasting strength, size, decent passing but above all, a reassuringly robust presence in front of a defence.

He was named player of the tournament at last summer’s under 21 European Championships and we were rumoured to be lining up a bid before he was sidelined for a few month through injury, ruling out any chance of a transfer materializing.

I’d guess he’s just one of a number of players in that position we’ve scouted and considered so time will tell if Arsene and his staff rate Carvalho as highly as he rates us.

Back tomorrow.