Arsenal’s LANS Players Can Only Help the Title Push
We are now a few days removed from a January transfer window that was more or less what we expected. It’s typically pretty uneventful, as most clubs aren’t willing to let critical players go mid-season, especially when they’re in the midst of looming cup/title chances.
The two most prevalent moves related to Arsenal came as no surprise. Injuries to Coquelin and Cazorla pulled the tablecloth off of our lack of holding midfield depth. Fourteen days into the window Elneny was officially signed after all of the work permit issues were finally sorted out. This gives the Gunners some depth straight away, and also strikes me as a proactive measure for the anticipated departures of Arteta, Flamini, and Rosicky (more on him later).
Then there was the late, late news that Debuchy was off to finish the season at Bordeaux. He’s taking a lot of flak for how vocal he’s been about wanting to leave Arsenal for a good spell now. Sure, he’s had a rough go with his injuries, but it never seemed like he fought very hard to snag his spot back from Bellerin. But that’s a matter for another article, perhaps. Best of luck to him. I hope he gets his International football.
Let’s move on to the main topic of this article, LANS players. For those that aren’t familiar with the term, the acronym stands for “Like a New Signing.” Essentially, LANS players are critical members of a side that suffer extended injuries, then heroically return right when the club is in the thick of it, vying for whatever honors may be up for grabs.
When considering a side that’s historically injury-laden (like Arsenal), there are bound to be plenty of LANS candidates in any given season. The second half of this season proves to be no different. The Gunners are on the precipice of getting many key cogs in the Cannon back into the squad. Ideally, the aggregate contribution of these returning LANS players will vastly outweigh any January signing. Let’s analyze them on an individual basis.
After two full months out after picking up a hamstring against Norwich, Alexis returned to the side for the FA Cup tie against Burnley. I have to agree with the Gaffer, he looked very fit. The Chilean went straight back to motoring all over the left, in a very direct manner I might add. Alexis was even more direct against Southampton, driving at players and taking positive touches at every opportunity. He’s clearly looking to make up for lost time.
There’s no mystery as to the benefit of having Sanchez back in the squad. The attack has been struggling to finish as of late, and he will bring that unrelenting work ethic and finishing ability the Gunners need to close out games.
Coquelin had to be subbed out with a with a knee issue against West Brom back in November. His forecasted return looked bleak, and he was sorely missed in the deep midfield. It was clear that the back line felt a little less comfortable in his absence. This isn’t to say that they played poorly, but there’s a certain confidence that comes with knowing you have Coq the Destroyer helping to cut out lanes and tackle anything that’s moving not in Arsenal colors.
Thankfully, Coq came back earlier than expected, also making his return against Burnley. He logged seventy minutes and looked solid. He went into tackels with the same confidence he’s shown since his resurgence, which is exceptionally reassuring. Coq also made a late appearance against Southampton and somehow found a way to pick up a yellow card in five minutes played. Here’s to hoping he gets right back to busting up things in the midfield.
Welbeck hasn’t played competitively since April, but he is slated to be back soon after returning to training last week. In a period where Arsenal really need goals, it would be beneficial for Welbeck to return back to the side with a healthy knee. Our current attacking options are thin, and Danny could provide a different look up top.
I like to think of him as somewhat of a hybrid, somewhere in the middle of the Walcott-Giroud spectrum. He’s pacey, but also has some size and physicality to him. Currently, the opposition defense can look at either Giroud or Walcott and immediately understand what they’ve got on their hands and how to deal with it. Welbeck could prove to be that wild card option off the bench. Hopefully Welbeck will come back into the side with a thirst for goals. I’m first in line pleading that he quenches it.
Cazorla, Wilshire and Rosicky
This lot aren’t set to return until mid-March or in Rosicky’s case maybe not at allQ. If they all remain on schedule, this could provide a late-season boost to the side. It’s not quite time to consider them as LANS players, as there are still lots of games to be played from now to then. Hopefully at the end of February we can have a whole separate LANS article on the trio’s return.
After an abysmal January in which the Gunners only picked up six points, these players will be very welcome back in the side. Alexis and Welbeck will help to bolster the attack and Coquelin will add to our defensive fortitude. Arsenal are far from out of it, and hopefully these LANS players will play crucial roles in helping propel us back to the top of the table come May.