Francis Coquelin continues to be undervalued by the British media




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.

How does Coquelin compare to other holding midfielders?

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.


Coquelin more than held his own last season when compared to the best in Europe

Coquelin more than held his own last season when compared to the best in Europe

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.

An encouraging start to 2015-16 for Coquelin

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.

About Andy Rees


  1. KENNETH ROLFE says:


  2. Bollay says:

    I think Wenger is when he say he’s not singing another defensive midfielder,I do agree with Wenger for saying Coqueline is the best defensive midfielder in the world he has all qualities that a DM needs,he plays his role very well as compare to Xabi Alonso and that of Sergio Busquets and Matic so I see no reason Carrigher who was very good at scoring own goals and that of Gary Neville who suffered in the hands of Nasri.both needs to learn how to analyse boot ball and stop attacking personalities.

  3. Andy Rees says:

    Yeah, that really gets to me, we always lose our combative element when he takes hims off. As much as I like Ramsey as a footballer I cannot help but think Wenger has a bit of an obsession with finding a place for him. For me Cazorla and Coquelin is the ideal partnership in there, they have a perfect understanding. However we do really need to sign another defensive minded midfielder that can compliment Coq within the squad.

  4. Andy Rees says:

    I normally have a lot of time for Neville, his analysis is generally spot on. But I really took exception to what he was saying. He couldn’t have been paying attention to his performances last season. What I admire most about him is that he doesn’t try and out-do a team-mate. He knows his place and what he is on the pitch to do, and gives it to the creative heads in the team to go and do what they are there for. I agree with Wenger when he said that he feels Coquelin is worth £40-£50 million, we improved so much as unit with him in front of the back four we just need to keep building and I worry we won’t. Wenger has a history of liking what he sees for half a season and then settling on that squad.

  5. MikeSA says:

    I think Wenger is being disengenious.

    Coquelin has been fantastic, of that there is no doubt.

    However, what happens when he gets injured, sent off, or suspended?

    If Wenger told us that the youngster he bought a season back is sufficient cover and ready, then fine, I can live with that, but the criticism is not that Coquelin is inadequate, the criticism is that Wenger tyre-levers as many midget attacking midfielders as he can find into the team and thus unbalances it comprehensively.

    As a result, we have a team that is way less than the sum of its parts (we have fantastic players, even with the lack of balance, but he just doesn’t get the best out of them).

    Wenger always seems to gamble on all his key players staying fit all season, and that is illuminated in two key behaviours of his, firstly, the unwillingness to buy decent or better players to cover particular positions (there seem to be some he has no issue with, midget attacking midfielders particularly), and secondly the lack of intelligent squad rotation to keep as much of the squad match fit as possible ( this manifests itself both in the starting lineups and the substitution policy’s).

    In essence, this is what Neville is saying (I wouldn’t lump Carrigher in the same pot, he’s just an idiot), and Wenger should be listening. That’s the issue, there’s a difference between someone who doesn’t listen by virtue of not paying attention and someone who actively refuses to listen. IMO Wenger is guilty of the second category, and that’s why he is considered arrogant.

    Likewise his insistence on doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is also naive, arrogant, and verges on insanity.

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