The biggest news since our win at City is rumblings of a new contract for our in-house shit house, Francis Coquelin. Which is absolutely brilliant in every way.
Coquelin is a testament to Arsène’s trademark patience with his players. Looking at the names he’s taken from teenaged nobodies to household names is remarkable. I’m glad we’ve found an – albeit short term – fix to the dearth of defensive midfield options currently at the club. The fact that our solution was sourced internally is especially pleasing.
I suspect Arsène sees Coquelin’s resurgence as the perfect excuse for putting off chasing a DM this window; frankly, I don’t blame him. Whoever we can get into the team now probably won’t be good enough to continue on with, so why bother? It’s better to stick with what we have in central midfield. Between Ramsey, Coquelin, Rosicky and others, I think we’ve got the numbers to last the rest of the season.
Where we could use an addition is at the back. I’m still not convinced Laurent Koscielny or Calum Chambers are fully fit, and there is no way that Per Mertesacker isn’t at least a little battered and bruised. He hasn’t had a proper rest in years. Again, it is January, so getting what we’re after is no easy task.
Nonetheless, the papers have linked us with two defenders, both from La Liga: Villareal’s Gabriel Paulista, and Valencia’s Nicolas Otamendi.
I can’t admit to knowing much about either, but it’s nice to see us sniffing around in Spain some more. We haven’t put a foot wrong signing a player from there since, well, Sebastien Squillaci, but that shouldn’t overshadow the fact that there are deals to be had. Nacho Monreal being the most recent example.
If they’re good enough, sign one of them, and we come out of January looking tidy indeed. Our defensive core is looking rather tasty, with five up to five contracted full backs vying for two starting spots next season.
What interests me more than our defense is the impending midfield shake-up.
The contracts of Coquelin, Abou Diaby, Mikel Arteta, and Mathieu Flamini all expire in the summer. This is a huge opportunity to free up a lot of cash to store forever and ever under Arsène’s mattress tied up in players who aren’t contributing enough to the team.
I’ll love Abou Diaby for ever and ever, but even on the alleged sporadic pay-as-you-go deal, it’s just not worth keeping him around. We’re never going to fix him, it’s best just to wish him well and send him on his way.
My sentiments are a little different towards Mathieu Flamini. His form from last season has taken one of the sharpest nose dives I’ve ever seen from an Arsenal player. No one has attempted explaining it either. Sadly, it’s probably because no one cares. Flamini’s re-hiring reeked of desperation at the time, so it comes as no surprise that we’ve stalled on giving him a bumper deal. I’ve enjoyed his enthusiasm and general calamity in his play, but turf-shredding tackles can only get you so far in this game. It’s probably time to say goodbye.
What this means for us is the possibility of a truly new-look, young Arsenal midfield. For once, the lack of an old guard would be welcome in my eyes. I think the best outcome in this contract situation would be getting Arteta to sign a player-coach contract, and letting the rest be byegones. We’re ever so close to having a complete squad, but there’s still some trimming to do yet.
Right now, I’m just happy that some of our problems are solving themselves. Cheers Francis.