Shattering blow: Coquelin could be out for six months with knee ligament damage

By Amir Mir

Charlie Nicholas believes Arsenal midfielder Francis Coquelin “would be lucky to get in the 18” when everyone is fit.

The 25-year-old first-teamer recently signed a new four-and-a-half year contract with the London club.

Midfielder Coquelin has played 22 games in all competitions for Arsene Wenger’s side as the Frenchman has had to play without the injured Santi Cazorla in the starting line-up.

Instead, the likes of Mohamed Elneny, Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey have been utilised in the deep-lying playmaker role.

Sky Sports pundit Nicholas gave an honest view on Coquelin as he explained why he would sell him in the summer.

“I don’t have a problem with him getting a new deal,” Nicholas told Sky Sports. “I’m not his greatest fan, but they don’t have many options in that position.

“Santi Cazorla is out for a long period, Mohamed Elneny is away and Jack Wilshere is on loan, so Arsene Wenger certainly can’t afford to let him go right now.

“However, when everybody’s fit and fresh Coquelin would be lucky to get in the 18. We simply need numbers in that department right now.

“He’ll do a job short term and after that, you’d think they’d get a decent price for him. It puts his value up and I would sell him in the summer when everybody is fit.”

In the summer, Wenger will have Cazorla, Jack Wilshere, Elneny, Ramsey, Xhaka and Coquelin to choose from as his two deep-lying playmakers.

This term Wilshere is currently out on loan at Bournemouth, while Elneny is currently at the African Cup of Nations and Cazorla is on the sidelines.

As a result, the more defensive-minded Coquelin has played 17 Premier League games during this campaign, starting 13 while he has been injured for a further two.

He missed his side’s last game with Ramsey and Xhaka utilised as the midfield pair as Wenger’s side picked up a 4-0 win at Swansea.

They will now take on Sean Dyche’s Burnley on Sunday afternoon, looking to claim their fourth win in five games.

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