At the beginning of the season, I was watching the Capital One Cup game against Southampton with a group of gooners. When we saw the lineup, as expected, the boss made several changes, but what struck us was the fact that Coquelin started at left back. One of my friends said ( in Nigerian pidgin english), ‘dis one still dey Arsenal, wetin he sabi play sef’.
In less than 3 weeks, Coquelin was shipped out to Charlton on loan. After previous loan deals at Lorient and Freiburg, this must have been the sign of the end of his time at Arsenal.
Then, as life would always throw up surprises, Arteta almost incurable calf injury came up again and Wenger had to look inwards for a solution, step up Francis Coquelin.
I am sure the Frenchman did not believe his luck. From playing championship football with Charlton, to playing Champions League football with Arsenal wftithin a space of months.
Francis has acquainted himself very well and is not playing based on sentiments; looking at the stats, the Frenchman has rubbed shoulders with the very best in his position.
Nemanja Matic and Sergio Busquets are the best in the holding midfielder and from stats, Francis is competing extremely well with them. Why would you not agree with Wenger that he is like a 40 million pound signing?
Despite Francis (178cm) been the shortest among Matic (194cm) and Sergio (189cm), he has won more aerial duels per game than both of them. He has also had more interceptions per game (3.7) to Matic’s 2.0 and Sergio’s 1.5. In addition, he has more clearances than both of them and besides he competes very well with them tackles won( Coquelin had 3.2) beating Sergio’s 2.9 per game but comes short to Matic’s 3.6.
Francis has really surprised me. At the beginning of the season, i drew up my list of three players that would be up there when player of the season votes are counted. I had Ramsey, Ozil and Sanchez. Not in my wildest imagination, did i think Coquelin would be up there too.
He has brought a lot of balance to a side that are know for its attacking prowess and not his defensive strengths.
As gooners, we are obsessed with a Vieira-esque player, that explains why we have so much desire for players like Kondogbia, Schniederlin, Wanyama and the rest, but with Coquelin, we are blessed with a player that a hybrid of Vieira and Makelele. He still has a lot to improve on, maybe adding Andre Pirlo to his skill set.
With what he has shown this season, it leaves you purring as to how good he can be in that position. Don’t be surprised if in Euro 2016, France has a midfield of Pogba-Matuidi-Coquelin.
Francis emergence is not just a lesson to younger players but a lesson about life. THANK YOU FRANCIS. 😉