Francis Coquelin's injury is cause for worry for Arsenal

Arsenal's Francis Coquelin receives medical attention after sustaining a injury

Francis Coquelin suffered a knee injury in Arsenal's 3-0 win against Chelsea, and his absence could be more detrimental to the team than many fans think.

Arsenal's Francis Coquelin after sustaining a injury

Francis Coquelin sustained a knee injury in Arsenal's 3-0 win over Chelsea in the Premier League, a lone blight on an otherwise perfect day for the Gunners.

The introduction of Granit Xhaka - fast becoming a fan favourite - in his stead seemed to be a positive thing. There have been calls for the Swiss to start over Coquelin anyway in the last few weeks, so surely the fast-tracking of his inclusion in the starting line-up was a blessing in disguise?

Perhaps, but it is a risk nevertheless. 

Chelsea's Diego Costa in action with Arsenal's Francis CoquelinDespite the introductions of new midfielders Xhaka and (in January) Mohamed Elneny, nobody quite commits to the defensive side of the holding midfield role quite like Coquelin, who is set to miss three weeks with the injury. 

The aforementioned duo are more than capable of putting in a challenge, but both also have a penchant for playing a box-to-box role as well. If Xhaka - the obvious starting replacement (as seen against Basel) - is able to balance his attacking instincts with his greater defensive responsibilities, then Arsenal will thrive despite the absence of Coquelin. 

However, it is important to remember that for all Xhaka's undoubted talent at both ends of the pitch, he is still new to the Premier League. As is Elneny, to a lesser extent. 

Arsenal's Granit XhakaWhile it has not been a summer of drastic change for Arsenal, new players are being introduced into the side, and players are adapting to new positions. Laurent Koscielny is building a new partnership with summer signing Shkodran Mustafi, while Alexis Sanchez is adapting to the central striker's role.

The central midfield pairing of Coquelin and Santi Cazorla is a tried and tested combination. Rugged steel and technical playmaking in the centre of the park had previously worked a treat for Arsenal, and while much of the rest of the spine found its feet, it was important to maintain some stability where possible.

The likelihood is that Xhaka would have replaced Coquelin eventually anyway, and when Aaron Ramsey returns from his own injury there will be even more competition for places.

The truth is, though, that Arsene Wenger most likely had a plan to integrate his new signing more effectively, and Arsenal fans will simply have to hope that the very talented Xhaka is able to hold the fort defensively and gel with Cazorla to form a partnership that is as effective, or perhaps even more so, than Coquelin's was with the Spaniard.

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