By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes
Francis Coquelin has revealed that the knee injury that will sideline him until at least March is the worst injury of his career.
The Arsenal midfielder has admitted to being taken aback by the severity of the problem that has ruled him out since the Gunners’ 2-1 defeat at West Brom in late November.
The 24-year-old, who had established himself as one of his team’s most important players during 2015, sprained the medial collateral ligament in his knee.
Coquelin’s regular midfield partner Santi Cazorla also suffered a serious knee injury soon afterwards to force Arsene Wenger to rejig his midfield, with Mathieu Flamini drafted back into the team as the anchorman, and Aaron Ramsey slotted into his favourite central role.
Coquelin admits it has been a difficult month since he got injured at the Hawthorns on 24 November.
“This is obviously the biggest injury I have had,” he told the Arsenal website. “I’ve had a few injuries before, but this one is quite major. At first it was OK, but I didn’t really realise how bad it was.
“Now it’s been a month and it starts to feel a bit long, but when I look around and see different injuries, I realise it could have been worse. Also when I see what’s been happening in the world in recent months, I’m trying to be positive.
“That puts it into perspective. It’s a shame I got injured but I will come back stronger.”
The Frenchman’s injury is so severe that he was unable to attend any of Arsenal’s games until they hosted Manchester City last week, and he found watching from the sidelines to be far from enjoyable.
“It’s a totally different feeling – I don’t recommend it to anyone,” Coquelin said. “I got really stressed. I was really happy when we scored, and then to make it 2-0, but then when I saw all our chances I really wanted the third one to go in. The last 10 minutes was really stressful.
“It’s more nervous watching than playing, it’s better to be active. In the end it was a great feeling though.”
Arsenal are close to bringing in much-needed midfield cover in the January transfer window. As reported by Football Insider, they have agreed terms with Basle midfielder Mohamed Elneny.