Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has praised Francis Coquelin for playing through the pain barrier against Everton yesterday, but the Frenchman may need an operation as a result.
Coquelin broke his nose against the Toffees after a clash of heads with Olivier Giroud, but played another 22 minutes after that incident before being replaced by Calum Chambers just a minute from full time.
Wenger has revealed that he finally decided Coquelin had to come off after taking a second knock to the nose late on, one that could force him to have re-constructive surgery in a worse-case scenario.
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Following a gritty 2-0 over Everton that lifted Arsenal to third in the table Wenger was asked about Coquelin, telling The Mirror: “He wanted to stay on. He didn’t play here for a long time and now that he plays, of course, he doesn’t want to come off the pitch.
“If he needs surgery, I don’t know. He was bleeding and he was hit on it a second time again - I had to take him off."
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Injury crisis ahead of QPR clash in midfield
Coquelin is now rated as a huge doubt to recover in time for Wednesday's London derby with Queens Park Rangers.
Two months ago Arsenal fans wouldn't have seen the young Frenchman's absence as a pressing issue, but given his rise to prominence and the fact Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Mathieu Flamini are all still out injured Wenger suddenly has a big selection problem.
Flamini has the best chance of being back this week, but continues to struggle with a tight hamstring that requires patience Arsenal simply don't have as the game start to come thick and fast.
Wenger might even be forced to go with a lightweight duo of Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky in central midfield, so getting Coquelin back in some kind of protective mask for the trip to Loftus Road is absolutely imperative.
Arsenal fans, how impressed were you by Coquelin's efforts against Everton last weekend? How important has he suddenly become to this Arsenal team? Let us know by having your say in the comment box below!