Even the most basic tactical analyst knows that success in football is all about balance and partnerships.

When Francis Coquelin picked up his injury, he had enjoyed the near constant midfield companionship of Santi Cazorla. It was a partnership that transformed the second half of last season and gave so much cause for hope in 2015/16.

Cazorla is, by far, the best player in the squad at receiving the ball from the back four under pressure and starting our attacking movements, particularly in the continued absence of Wilshere.

He is also by some distance the best we have at playing incisive passes from deep, and forming the link between the backline and the supporting attacking players behind our central striker of choice.

His tactical intelligence also allows him to find good positions where he can receive and distribute the ball while simultaneously helping the team to keep a more functional shape.

Cazorla is also, by some distance again, the best we have at playing incisive passes from deep, and forming the link between the backline and the supporting attacking players behind our central striker of choice.

The Saniard’s tactical intelligence also allows him to find good positions where he can receive and distribute the ball while simultaneously helping the team to keep a more functional shape.

Santi’s tactical intelligence also allows him to find good positions where he can receive and distribute the ball while simultaneously helping the team to keep a more functional shape.

All these things together take a LOT of pressure of Coquelin, allowing him to focus on filling defensive holes and winning tackles, and thus informing his positioning. In the absence of Cazorla as his partner, he has been asked to initiate possession more, roam from his position more to give his central partner and option, and has been pushed out more into wider positions. This is without mentioning the fact that Ramsey in central midfield is, for all his ball skills, a runner rather than a distributer, and one who not only puts more of the burden of ball retention on Coquelin but also has often left the Frenchman isolated.

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In the absence of Cazorla as his partner, Francis has been asked to initiate possession more, roam from his position more to give his central partner and option, and has been pushed out more into wider positions. This is without mentioning the fact that Ramsey in central midfield is, for all his ball skills, a runner rather than a

This is without mentioning the fact that Aaron Ramsey in central midfield is, for all his ball skills, a runner rather than a distributer. One who not only puts more of the burden of ball retention on Coquelin but also has often left the Frenchman isolated.

The net result of this is that Coquelin has been attempting to adjust his positioning to plug more gaps while simultaneously having to take on greater passing responsibility.

While returning from injury, while the team is in rotten form, while the pressure is at its highest.

If anything, his sending off against Tottenham was a symptom of his confusion and lack of feeling settled, as it was both a case of trying to do too much, and not trusting those behind him to deal with the situation if he couldn’t.