Mathieu Debuchy is preparing for a start against Red Star Belgrade, according to manager Arsène Wenger, 11 months after his last appearances for the club.
Debuchy has been out of the first team for so long that it was a bit of a surprise to hear that he’d boarded the plane to Serbia, but Wenger confirmed the French international will start in Belgrade. He also revealed injuries had led to Debuchy’s return not coming soon.
The last time Debuchy appeared in Arsenal colours was actually on Monday, when he turned out for the u23s at centre-back for 45 minutes, in a 2-0 win over Sunderland. However, the last time the former Newcastle man played for the Arsenal first-team was November 27, 2016, for 16 minutes in a 3-1 win over Bournemouth.
That 16-minute spell is the only game-time Debuchy has received with the Gunners’ senior side since 2015. The longest spell the 32-year-old has ever managed for Arsenal in the league is six-games, before he picked up an injury.
It’s difficult to say much about his ability on the pitch, because each time he comes back it’s been so long since his previous game. His career looked up too, having admitted spending more time with his family than on the pitch. Hopefully this time he’ll be back stronger, and can put a bit more of a run together.
Obviously he’s unlikely to displace Hector Bellerín at wing-back, but his experience at centre-back could be key with all the injuries Arsenal have suffered at the moment.