By Editor Wayne Veysey | Former Evening Standard, Press Association and Goal chief correspondent with 17 years experience of breaking big stories, including exclusives like this
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Arsene Wenger will put his faith in Mathieu Flamini until the January transfer window offers him the chance to refurbish his injury-ravaged midfield.
The loss of Francis Coquelin for between three and six months has persuaded the Arsenal manager to re-evaluate his midfield anchorman plans.
With Mikel Arteta hampered by a calf problem and Jack Wilshere unavailable for another month, Wenger plans to use Flamini as the protector of the defence in the coming matches, starting with Sunday’s Premier League trip to Norwich.
Aaron Ramsey made a midweek return as a substitute in Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Dynamo Zagreb after a month out with a hamstring injury but Wenger believes the Welshman is better suited to an attacking midfield role.
Speaking at his weekly media briefing on Thursday, Wenger said of Ramsey: “He is not a tactical, defensive player. We have [Mesut] Ozil, who is an offensive player, [Alexis] Sanchez, [Olivier] Giroud or [Theo] Walcott, and [Santi] Cazorla, so to balance a bit defensively, I use Ramsey on the right.
“That’s where I will continue to use him, unless the game demands to attack.”
This will be a blow to Ramsey, who has made it clear both publicly and privately that he prefers to play in central midfield.
Wenger’s faith in Flamini, who has started just one Premier League match all season, comes after he tried to sell his fellow Frenchman last summer.
Nevertheless, Arsenal are in the market for a midfield lynchpin.
As revealed by Football Insider on Tuesday, the Gunners will send scouts to watch all of William Carvalho’s pre-Christmas matches as they weigh up a move for the Sporting Lisbon star in the winter window.
An Arsenal recruitment source has also told Football Insider that Wenger will consider loan options in addition to permanent arrivals.