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The importance of Francis Coquelin

Arsenal go into tomorrows FA cup final as favourites as they take on Tim Sherwood’s “plucky” Aston Villa side looking to avoid an upset, Francis Coquelin is sure to be a big player for Arsenal as they look to retain their FA Cup from last season.

It is no coincidence that in the second half of this season that the Arsenal defence has improved considerably, in fact Francis Coquelin is  one of the best performing defensive midfielders in Europe this season after being recalled from his loan spell at Charlton.

Since the departure of Gilberto Silva Arsenal Wenger has found it near impossible to replace the inspirational Brazilian and in Coquelin he has a midfielder that has a defensive mindset and a professional head on his shoulders.

Cast your minds back to 18th January and it was almost like revisiting the scene of a crime, Arsenal traveled to the Etihad to face Manchester City where many were just hoping to avoid embarrassment. Instead what followed was a gutsy, professional display full of grit and desire that a Wenger side has not shown for years maybe even going back to the “Invincibles” of 2004.

Coquelin was a shining light in front of the back four screening it like he has been there for years, it is no secret that his performances curtailed any real need to dip into the transfer market in January to address the defensive midfield “issue”. The answer was under Wenger‘s nose all along.

Four months on and Coquelin has won plaudits from the top media pundits and to think if it were not for “an injury crisis” around new year he may still be on loan in League one. Wenger does deserve credit for making the decision for recalling the tenacious Frenchman but the flip side of that coin is why was he not given his chance before?

Arsenal take on Sherwood‘s Villa tomorrow looking to retain their trophy which is a trophy that Wenger clearly loves to win, Wenger has previous with underdogs from the West Midlands. Back in 2011 Arsenal came close to ending the silverware drought only to throw it away against Alec McLeish‘s Birmingham side due to a calamitous mix up between Wojciech Szczesny and Laurent Koscielny, one that should be always mentioned, over-confidence can always come back to bite you.

The impressive understanding between Christian Benteke and Jack Grealish will be of massive importance to Villa if they are to upset the odds on cup final day, this is where Coquelin will be key. if there is one thing that Coquelin is adept at it is breaking up play it is important he keeps his head and does not play the occasion as many have done before.

Arsenal have a plethora of attacking talent but without wanting to put him on a pedestal, they only have one Coquelin and he could be the difference between cup success and a trophy-less season.

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