Francis Coquelin’s knee injury could show why Arsene Wenger was wrong not to sign Morgan Schneiderlin in the summer.
The youngster, whose rise to the first team has been one of the club’s success stories of 2015, limped out of the Gunners’ 2-1 defeat to West Bromwich Albion at the weekend.
And with Schneiderlin starring for new club Manchester United, Louis van Gaal’s capture of the Frenchman could ensure the Red Devils finish above the Londoners when the season ends in May.
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For a long time it appeared Schneiderlin would move to either Arsenal or Tottenham Hotspur when former club Southampton decided to cash in on him.
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However, after a series of eye-catching performances for the Saints, Van Gaal swooped to bring him to Old Trafford in order to add steel and bite to the club’s midfield alongside fellow new arrival Bastian Schweinsteiger.
After an initially tough introduction to life at England’s most successful club, the France international is finally beginning to show his class and was outstanding as United scored late to beat Watford on Saturday.
Now, with Coquelin on the sidelines, many are questioning Wenger’s decision to overlook the acquisition of his countryman when he had the chance.
The main reason the Arsenal boss did pass up the opportunity to sign Schneiderlin was down to the rise of Coquelin, who has established himself as one of the best defensive midfielders in the top flight.
Victories over Manchester City and United at the Etihad Stadium and Old Trafford respectively last term were achieved with the youngster a standout performer in both, his tenacity earning him a place in the Gunners’ starting XI.
The 24-year-old initially spent the start of the season on loan with Charlton Athletic, but he has since demonstrated why he is deserving of a place in the squads of both club and country alike.
Yet with Coquelin now injured, his chances of helping the club to a first league title since 2004 appear to be in doubt.
Though the £24 million United paid to lure Schneiderlin to Manchester was questioned, the former Southampton midfielder is now slowly but surely repaying the faith shown to him by Van Gaal and the club’s supporters.
It would be a huge slap in the face for Wenger if the season ends with his compatriot in possession of a league winners medal, which it may well do given the Red Devils’ excellent start to the season.
If it does, then the Frenchman must hold his hands up and acknowledge his mistake. Coquelin is a superb talent, but signing Schneiderlin appeared the logical thing to do.