As a result of the injury situation in defence, Arsene Wenger has had to fill its quota of defenders in the squad by promoting players from the Under-21 squad to the first team. Though, these players have not had to be called upon to feature for the first team in any capacity, they have however continued their work with the team. One of such players is Under-21 defender Sami Ajayi who was part of the youth players that trained with the first team squad at London Colney ahead of the Champion League match against Anderlecht. The former Charlton Academy product has been training with the first team following the injury suffered by Isaac Hayden, who was expected to have made some appearance for the first team, but for an ankle injury which has ruled him out for two months.
Sami Ajayi was on the bench against Hull City a couple of weeks ago, it is the closest he has come to the first eleven since joining the club. With the continued absence of Laurent Koscielny and Mathieu Debuchy, he is expected to continue training with the first team squad at London Colney. However, whether he makes the step up of making the bench a few weeks ago to actually making an appearance, would take something unusual to happen as Nacho Monreal is still preferred to partner Per Mertesacker in central defence, while Calum Chambers can still play at centre half too.
With his contract expiring next summer, Sami Ajayi would be looking to make an impression at every opportunity in order to earn a contract extension. Even though a first team appearance is still far off despite training with the first team players, he has consistently impressed with the Under-21s, part which included a strong performance against Middlebrough last week Friday.
While, Sami Ajayi is at least rubbing shoulders with the first team, a player whose future at Arsenal is gradually ebbing to a close is French midfielder Francis Coquelin. The 23 year was on Thursday loaned out to Charlton in the Championship on a one month deal. With his contract expiring next summer, it is looking likely that he is on the last lap of his Arsenal career.
Having arrived the club in 2008 as a 17 year old, he was making steady progress during his first few years at the club, and was part of the squad that won the FA Youth Cup in the 2008/2009 season, a squad that included a certain Jack Wilshere. Though most of the players in that Youth Cup winning side have since left the club, he is one of the surviving few still left, he was on the fringes of the first team after that, but spent a year on loan at French side Lorient playing mostly as a right back, and making 44 appearances. He was used sparingly after his arrival, and when not used, his path to the first team was blocked by injuries, like the injury he suffered at Stamford Bridge three seasons ago when he was having a solid game in midfield before a Ramires tackle saw him substituted.
He spent last season on loan at bundesliga side Freiburg in what was an unsuccessful spell with the German side. With many expecting him to leave the club this summer,
He stayed back, with his only appearance coming against Southampton in the Capital One Cup in September when he was deployed as a left back. With Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini ahead of him in the pecking order, game time has become hard for him to come by. With his contract with Arsenal drawing to a close, it remains to be seen whether he still has a future in North London.