With Héctor Bellerín nailing down the regular spot at right-back last season, Mathieu Debuchy has returned from injury to find himself warming the bench.
Void of regular time on the pitch, Debuchy’s performances this season have varied from ‘desperately poor’ to ‘just about good enough’, which clearly isn’t what Arsenal want or need from him.
Just two Premier League starts since returning to fitness back in April, Debuchy has been omitted from Didier Deschamps France squad. Just a year ago he was first choice, now he is a long way behind Christophe Jallet and former Arsenal man Bacary Sagna.
As a result of his time out of the side, Debuchy is understandably considering his future. The European Championships take place in his native France in the summer and his place is now incredibly doubtful. Beyond that, he will be 31 at the start of next season; Bellerín is 10 years younger and unlikely to lose his spot. Does Debuchy really want to spend his last few years at the top level as second choice? Seemingly not.
“I am dealing with it,” the defender told Canal+. “I am trying to stay strong. We are going to remain concentrated until December, after that I will see.”
So in January?
Bellerín’s missed the last two games through injury but is sure to regain his place when fit. Should Debuchy, anxious to get back into the France squad before the summer, force a move in January will Arsenal be short at the back?
Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny have both already struggled with injuries this season, so Calum Chambers is needed as a reserve centre-back. Beyond the Englishman, Mathieu Flamini and Francis Coquelin have both been used at right-back in the past but are far from ideal options.
From the beginning of January, Arsenal will still have 19 Premier League games to play. Going through in Europe will mean midweek fixtures, possibly with a quick Thursday-Sunday turnover in games for a while should we drop into the Europa League.
Last season the squad was also required for six FA Cup games (without any replays) as we went all the way and eventually won the competition. It’s fair to assume Arsenal will have to play 25 games or more from the beginning of January to the end of May, and we will need a deep squad to compete on all fronts.
Mathieu Debuchy may not be invaluable to the team, but he’s a member of the squad that we possibly wouldn’t be able to do with out for the time being.