Arsène Wenger says Mathieu Debuchy will be a candidate for a place in the team again, now he seems to have fully overcome his injury problems.
Debuchy had only played 16 minutes of senior football in over a season before the current campaign, and many believed his Arsenal career was over. There were rarely updates in Wenger’s press conferences about any injuries, so most assumed he’d just fallen out of favour.
However, the official line now is that he suffered a number of fitness setbacks, and after starts against Red Star Belgrade and Norwich, it seems he’s finally back. Wenger said (via Daily Star): “We are all very pleased for him here because he has gone through some very difficult moments with setbacks.
“The fact that he got through 120 minutes the other night is a huge boost for him. He needs to recover now but from now on, he’ll be a candidate to fight for the team places again.
“Mathieu is absolutely strong and determined as well. He’s a quiet character but a very strong one. I must say he’s 100 per cent a professional player. Everybody in the medical department just says he’s exceptional.
“Maybe his future is as a centre-back. He has the attributes because, despite his size, he’s very good in the air. You think he couldn’t play centre back because he’s not tall, but if you look at the number of balls he wins in the air, it’s impressive.”
So if Wenger has any doubts about Debuchy’s commitment to Arsenal, he certainly isn’t revealing them publicly. From what I’ve seen so far, Mathieu has made a good return to senior football.
As Arsène says, the defender is very strong in the air. For example, in his first game back against Red Star, the French international won 100% of his five aerial duels. The rest of the team only won nine aerial duels combined on the night.
It was a similar story against Norwich, so perhaps the change in formation will end up suiting Debuchy, and he could end up with more of a chance as a centre-back in it.