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October 2016
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When will the glue master be back? Arsenal look forward to Santi’s return.

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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8 comments to When will the glue master be back? Arsenal look forward to Santi’s return.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    And we have missed his goals too , Walter . Hope he is ready to start soon.

  • Andy Mack

    Elneny needs a few more games to prove he’s a viable alternative to Coquelin but I think that will be the case. In fact Elnenys additional benefit of having a good shot may just about tilt the position in his favour. However I seem to remember Coquelin had a decent shot as a U21 player, so maybe he’s just been hiding the shooting urge for the last season or so…
    Either way, IMO we miss Santi playing more than any other player including Ozil.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    For a diminutive player he leaves a giant sized hole, hope he is back soon and quickly returning to his best.

  • I just want to let Walter know that my thoughts and prayers are with the people of Brussels and Beligum today after this savage attack. May God be with the families of those murdered and the families of the injured. I have lived all my life in Belfadt and I have seen firsthand the devastation of bombs, I have seen things no human being should ever see and I no the hurt and pain this leaves along with the scar’s it leaves.
    It’s things like this that that make football secondary and rightly so.
    At the same time it also gives us a release for ninety minutes to try to free our minds of the horror. It was my life line and still is.Thinging of you. Xxx

  • Barry L

    Agree completely Walter.
    In the first half of the season we had Le Coq and a deep-lying Cazorla enabling Ozil to weave his magic. It also allowed Rambo license to roam.

    The big advantage though was Santi’s ability to change defence into attack QUICKLY. Since his injury our midfield build-up has been terribly slow and predictable, resulting in a drought of goals in a number of key games.

    Hoping to see the little General back in the side before the season end.

  • para

    Yes we really missed him. Is he back this season at all?

    Exiting prospects with Coq, Carzola and Elneny interchanging means they each won’t get too tired out too soon. This brings back options to the team that we have sadly missed.

  • Mandy Dodd

    We have not just missed Santi, but those a bit like him…..first and foremost, Jack, to a lesser extent, Rambo……then, Arteta and TR
    Jack is becoming a real worry……now looks like a season out…..with a hairline fracture?? I long for this excellent player getting a proper run in this team, as Arsene says, the game speaks to Jack.
    One day, we will be relieved from this injury curse…..we might get similar injuries to key players over a season to that experienced by Leicester…..or Spurs….that will probably be the day we are relieved from mike Riley.

  • ob1977

    Good article, and also agree completely with Mandy, if you think Santi would have been our 1st choice for the playmaker spot, then Jack, then Arteta, then Tomas, even AOC, then Ramsey, I put Ramsey last as worryingly hasn’t looked like he can play the part when played in there this season… So Elneny looks to be a great addition…

    But the point is our creativity has been wiped out, but yet we are still among the most creative teams in the league, although this is probably down to the worrying increase of negative football in the league…