By Walter Broeckx
The match against Everton was a match in which a few players proved themselves to be in better form after having been a bit below par over the last weeks.
Let us start with Coquelin. Of course he isn’t the most flashy player in the team but his mostly unnoticed work rate is oh so important for the team. Francis finally looked to be back to the level he had before his injury. Seeing the passing lines from the opposition so he could easily intercept the balls and start Arsenal attacks. Running around chasing opponents down and forcing them in to errors. And shielding and protecting his defenders and helping them out whenever was needed.
Might his improvement have something to do with the also very good match we saw from Elneny? After a good match at Barcelona he now also impressed. I have seen a statistic in which they showed that he ran most of all the Arsenal players on the pitch. In fact he ran 2 km more than the second Arsenal player. Running 12.5 km in total. And that after having played at Barcelona hardly 56 hours before!
Once Elneny to Arsenal became more than a rumour I did some digging and one thing was said about him a lot: that Elneny has an immense work rate and can run, run and run some more. With Coquelin another player who has a high work rate and can run a lot it was one of the reasons I think that Everton never really got a foothold in the match.
The combination Coquelin – Elneny is looking promising. With their high fitness levels they can make it difficult for each team and certainly when playing away from home they look to be a partnership that can help the team out.
To be honest I do think that Santi is better when it comes to attacking than either of them, so maybe in home matches one might prefer Santi (when he is fit again) in the place of one of those two. At home we usually face a big parked bus and then it is more important to have a very creative player like Santi than a runner like Elneny or Coquelin. When Santi is fit again and will play it will be a tough choice for Wenger to pick one of them.
We all know that Santi-Coquelin works extremely well but we haven’t seen a partnership between Santi and Elneny yet in action. If this would also work then we will have a great option and could interchange them depending on how they feel and how their condition is at the moment.
So could we see a partnership Elneny-Coquelin when we play away from home and a partnership Santi-Coq/Elneny at home? It wouldn’t surprise me to be honest. The only thing is that to see this we must have Santi back to full fitness and after being out for so long with a knee injury it can be tricky for him to come back in to the team and perform from the first minute.
We have seen it with the other long term injured players so far. Alexis looks better in the last two matches but it took him a very long time and still isn’t completely the Alexis from before his injury. Coquelin also wasn’t as impressive and took a while to get going. So I expect it will be the same for Santi once he will back. I just hope the fans will give him time to come back and not get on his back if he faces some troubles in his first appearances.
Missing Santi is one of the biggest problems this Arsenal team has faced in fact. The little man is one of the players that has a big impact on our game plan.
Now we are more or less totally dependent on Özil on the creative side of our game. But with both Santi and Özil on the pitch the opposition has a more difficult task. If they go all after Özil it will open up space for Santi to exploit. And if they go after Santi, it will leave more room for Özil. I also read somewhere a few months ago that when we scored usually one of the two had started the move and most of the time both had been involved in the build up to the goal.
So not just the defensive combination Santi-Coquelin was sorely missed but also the attacking combination Santi – Özil has been missed very much. Santi was the one that glued attack and defence together in the team.
Let us hope that he can be the same player he was before his injury and will bring his experience and his lovely skill back to the team and lift us to a higher level.
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