Cast your minds back before the season-transforming new year of last season, Arsenal were unconvincing defensively to say the least and they were shipping goals for fun. They had become over-reliant on veterans Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini, and then due to an “injury crisis” Arsene Wenger’s hand was forced which saw him having to terminate Coquelin’s loan period at Charlton and throw him straight back into Arsenal’s first team squad. His first full 90 minutes came in the 2-1 away victory at West Ham and he has not looked back since.
The 24-year-old Frenchman was nothing short of a revelation last term and all the stats go to show that he is more than capable in the holding midfield role, when he is compared to the likes of Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic and Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets his defensive qualities shine through and in some cases he surpasses these “world class” defensive midfielders.
In light of these statistics the British media still seem unconvinced in the defensive midfielder’s abilities, on Sky’s Monday Night Football build-up to Arsenal vs Liverpool both Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher stated that the 24-year-old is not good enough defensively to help Arsenal win their first premier league title since 2004. You can argue that in the past Arsene Wenger has not signed the right calibre of player or even the right style of footballer, whether that be due to funds available or even an arrogance with his own philosophy. To write off Coquelin as being an unworthy holding midfielder for a title challenging side is slightly short-sighted from two defenders who have played the game at the highest level.
Arsenal’s tough-tackling midfielder has picked up where he left off from last season, if he can carry on throughout this season he may well find himself very close to the French national team which would be a great achievement due to the amount of quality midfielders they currently possess.
In his opening three premier league games he has made 11 tackles, 8 interceptions and 2 blocks and has once again looked commanding in front of aback four that has come in for some criticism, which has conceded three goals in as many games.
Whenever anyone mentions Coquelin there are a few ex-professionals that can’t help but bring up the 8-2 loss at Old Trafford, that was 4 years ago!!!, much has changed since then. We are constantly reminded that when a young player has a good performance that we can’t judge him on one game, the same should be said when expressing a view on a negative display. the former Stade Lavallois player has grown in stature since 2011 and is now a key member of the Arsenal midfield unit.
Coquelin is and will be an important cog in the Arsenal midfield , one that will have to be at his best if Arsenal are to make this season a positive one. There is no doubt that Arsenal are still short in this area and it still remains to be seen if their stubborn and frustrating manager will dip into the transfer market to appease the fans who are still shouting for another holding midfielder and a world class striker. It would seem that Wenger is quite a distance from signing a player in either of those positions, it could be another long and disappointing deadline day for Gooners everywhere.