The rise of Coquelin?

On 12th January 2015 by Kieran

Only a month ago Coquelin found himself facing the likes of Nottingham Forest in a mid-table Championship battle, little to his knowledge that 6 days later he would be recalled to the Arsenal squad. Francis Coquelin featured just 1 day after his recall in Arsenal’s 4-1 triumph over Newcastle coming on in the final minutes. Doing similar in matches against both Liverpool and QPR.

It’s been quite a turnaround for Coquelin with him recently playing the whole 90 minutes against Southampton, Hull and Stoke. All of their last matches. But have his performances in these perhaps secured him a more permanent spot in the Arsenal’s squad?

Coquelin had began to appear as an Arsenal sideman following the likes of Emmanuel Frimpong who found himself on loan on several occasions. Compared to similarly aged and fellow Arsenal youth squad teammate Jack Wilshere who found himself at Arsenal throughout the majority of his career. But now finds himself being matched on a similar path to Alex Song, providing his progression continues.

Francis Coquelin fights off an aerial chalenge from Hull City’s Yannick Sagbo

Although this has not seemed to phase the Frenchman who has certainly stepped up to the opportunity to feature in Arsenal’s starting XI following their midfield injury crisis, potentially rising in the rankings ahead of the likes of Mathieu Flamini after several strong performances.

Coquelin does not appear as much of a vocal character as of yet, although he is not afraid to get stuck in on a challenge also offering the agility both Arteta and Flamini do not have. Against Hull in Arsenal’s FA Cup third round victory he showed signs that he could possibly be that defensive midfielder they have been searching for. Against Hull Coquelin not only showed his willingness to get into opponents but also showed the awareness of his surroundings, covering the fullbacks well when they went forward. He is able to break up the opposition’s attacking play, with textbook tackles along with great aerial ability winning 5/7 aerial duels against Stoke on Sunday, he is also not afraid to put his body into challenges when needed.

Coquelin’s distribution on the other hand is not up to the standard of some of his other aspects. Although having great vision when breaking up the oppositions attack, Coquelin seems to chose the more difficult and spectacular passes rather than playing the ball out simply, This has gradually shown signs of improvement with him coming away from Arsenal’s match against Stoke on Sunday with an impressive 80% pass completion rate.The Frenchman also provided a more attacking ability to the side being able to make runs without being forced off the ball, also having the stamina to retreat back down the field positioning himself to ready for opposition attacks. It will be important to Coquelin to gain the necessary experience on the pitch along with guidance from the likes of captain Mikel Arteta to fully transform the 23-year-old into the defensive midfielder that could prove vital for reviving Arsenal’s current season.

This may have given Arsene Wenger a bigger decision to make during the January transfer window. With fans having called for a defensive midfielder throughout the season so far, Wenger may be able to take a risk on Coquelin and hope he performs up to the expectations he has set of himself within the first few matches since his return. Arsenal have been needing a reliable ball winning defensive midfielder with a strong physical presence for quite some time. Wenger may just have lucked out with Coquelin’s emergency recall from loan and finding himself a defensive midfielder that he can use as an excuse not to splash the cash this January. It would be premature to currently call Coquelin a long-term figure, although with more consistent performances and continual improvement, Coquelin could find himself at the club longer than expected, perhaps making the first team more regularly.

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