Ajayi trains with first-team as Coquelin goes on loan


Michael Regan/ Getty Images Europe

Semi Ajayi trained with the Arsenal first-team squad at London Colney this morning prior to tomorrow night’s Champions League fixture against Anderlecht.

Ajayi, who is looking to earn an extension to his contract, which expires at the end of the season, was impressive as the U21s beat Middlesbrough 2-1 on Friday night.

Wenger is likely to stick with the same squad from the game against Burnley, with Jack Wilshere ruled out through illness. In addition, Mesut Ozil, Olivier Giroud, Mathieu Debuchy, Laurent Koscielny, David Ospina and Isaac Hayden are all out through injury, whilst Abou Diaby is not yet match fit.

In terms of the starting line-up, Aaron Ramsey will be hopeful of returning to the side in place of Mathieu Flamini, whilst Lukas Podolski will be hoping to feature, with the German a candidate to replace Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Theo Walcott is likely to be on the bench again despite his impressive cameo against Burnley. It will also be intriguing to see whether Wenger again selects Yaya Sanogo to be a substitute instead of Joel Campbell, who was left out of the squad entirely at the weekend. Serge Gnabry trained but is unlikely to be considered for action.

Possible team:



Oxlade Chamberlain-Arteta-Ramsey-Cazorla



subs: Martinez, Bellerin, Flamini, Rosicky, Podolski, Walcott, Sanogo.

One player who definitely won’t be involved is Francis Coquelin, who has joined Charlton Athletic on loan until December 1st. Coquelin spent last season at Freiburg but was mostly used out of position as a left-winger, whilst he had a more fruitful spell with Lorient in 2011. Coquelin has made 44 appearances for the Arsenal first-team since joining in 2008, but has only featured once this season, when he was used at left-back against Southampton in the Capital One Cup.

Two seasons ago he appeared to be edging towards a regular place in the side, but he failed to build on his initial promise and now finds himself behind Mikel Arteta and Flamini in the pecking order as far as defensive-midfielders are concerned. An FA Youth Cup winner in his first season at the club, Coquelin has impressed at times with his well-timed challenges and short, snappy passing, but is now at the stage of his career where he needs to play regularly.

At the age of 23 and with his contract set to expire in the summer, it would take something quite significant for him to still be an Arsenal player next season.



  1. I think we would be making a mistake letting Coquelin leave. His tackling plus ability to play in three different positions make him an asset for the bench, especially as Arteta and Flamini are creaking.

  2. I thought the same about afobe, but it turns out he earned a reprieve and a contract extension. Personally I would take coquelin over flamini diaby and arteta. I really think though there is more to it. Even in the u21s he has looked pretty stable, he is nothing exciting, but we have all been screaming out all season for no nonsense Dm who is fit and prepared to just sit and protect the back 4. To me that is coquelin, but then again I don’t see what his demeanour and attitude is like in training everyday, perhaps he just doesn’t make the right impression.

  3. Agree re: Coquelin, showed a lot of promise initially, but hasn’t really cracked it, for some reason…
    Injuries haven’t helped him, but that’s a common theme running through our club, as Frimpong, Afobe, Henderson and many others would subscribe…

  4. shame we have a manager who thinks monreal is a CB. Plays cazorla even if he is playing. I would far prefer to see chambers cb and bellerin rb than monreal playing CB. Flamini is horrendous, he sets the midfield far to deep and has absolutely no spatial awareness when he has the ball. Sczezny has horrific distribution of the ball. Seriously, a CB, DM and cazorla not playing and we would have a great team. Why not stick ajayi in the team as opposed to monreal.

    1. Well after tonight I am at a loss manager, coaches, players, simply not good enough. Paul Merson is very rough (and looked it tonight) but although words failed him, he was spot on with his comments. They all need a wake up call, we had an opportunity to top the group for the first time in ages and once again let it slip and that will cost us. Not just in the CL but also the EPL where we will now have to use over worked players once again against the likes of united and Liverpool. Mark my words if that doesn’t prove costly!!!

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