Ignasi Miquel is quite used by now to being asked to fill in during the most trying of circumstances. At the start of last season, for instance, the Spaniard, who is now in his fifth full campaign at the club, was thrust into the limelight against Liverpool in the Premier League following an untimely injury to Laurent Koscielny.
With Koscielny having again succumbed to injury in the warm-up against Sunderland yesterday, Andre Santos heading back to Brazil and Carl Jenkinson underlining his inexperience with two rash challenges that resulted in his dismissal, Miquel was again called upon in the top flight, with the 20 year old making two important clearances in the dying stages as a valiant Arsenal defence held on for victory at the Stadium of Light.
It was a welcome return to the Premier League for Miquel, who himself has suffered greatly with injury problems this season. Having seemingly been on the cusp of the first-team squad during last season, featuring four times in the Premier League, he was expected to push on this time around, particularly following Kyle Bartley’s departure to Swansea at the start of the campaign.
It has not exactly been plain sailing for the tall youngster, however, as despite featuring regularly for the U21s (he has now played over 50 times for the club at second-string level) and scoring his first senior goal in the Capital One Cup trouncing of Coventry City, he has struggled to command a place in the matchday squad, owing largely to Arsene Wenger’s decision to field strong sides in both domestic cup competitions this season.
Now, however, with Arsenal’s defensive resources severely stretched and with the club still in three competitions, Miquel could have a part to play, even if it is a peripheral one. Bacary Sagna was selected ahead of him at centre-back yesterday and the Frenchman excelled in that role, but Miquel is likely to start next weekend’s FA Cup tie with Blackburn Rovers and, should the injury problems with Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen persist, he could feature in further fixtures, too.
Things are, finally, starting to fall into place for Miquel to make his mark after Johan Djourou was shipped off on loan to Hannover for the rest of the campaign and with Wenger seemingly reluctant to use Sebastien Squillaci, who is out of contract at the end of June, other than in an emergency. Miquel will be hopeful, then, of receiving some game-time, but it is somewhat strange that he is yet to experience a loan spell of any kind since moving to England. Brighton were persistently linked with his signature, but eventually pursued other options instead and, at present, it seems as if he will remain at Emirates Stadium to provide first-team cover rather than developing his game elsewhere.
A temporary transfer may well be on the cards for the former Cornella player next season, and he will hope that such a move could be the final platform to propel him into the first-team picture at Arsenal. For now, though, it is very much a case of taking every chance as it comes for Ignasi Miquel.