Arsenal's Francis Coquelin on playing center back: 'We'll see what happens'

When Arsenal hit the training grounds at San Jose State University on Wednesday morning, even not-so-sharp observers noticed some position changes. First, ’keeper David Ospina was playing out of goal – but nobody should take that too seriously, said his teammate Francis Coquelin that afternoon. “Ospina won’t play striker,” he said. “Don’t worry.”

But Coquelin himself, usually a holding midfielder, showed up in a new spot too – center back, a move he revealed on the team’s Snapchat story. Arsenal fans have been following the team’s drama at the back. Just before their current US tour, they announced Per Mertesacker will be sidelined with a knee injury; they’re also traveling without Gabriel and Laurent Koscielny.

Again, though, Coquelin downplayed the training change-up. “We’ve been short, like today, and because there’s new players coming in and doing different work, so that’s why I was playing center back,” he said.

But he also won’t rule anything out, particularly when Arsenal face the MLS All-Stars tonight (7:30 pm ET, ESPN, UniMas, TSN, RDS). “We never know,” he said. “I’m ready to play any position, so if the boss needs me there, I’m ready for it. We’ll see what happens.”

In whichever position he winds up, though, Coquelin says he won’t be taking it easy. An avowed NBA fan – his allegiances recently shifted to the Golden State Warriors as he followed Kevin Durant there, he said – he embraces the concept of an all-star game in soccer. “It’s pretty cool, you have the best players of the league playing,” he said. “You can see that soccer is finally taking a bigger place in the country. That’s what I feel from the outside.”

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