The Arsenal midfielder Francis Coquelin is already well on his way to becoming a firm favourite with the Arsenal fans, not just for the brilliant and battling performances since he returned early from his loan spell to be at the heart of the Gunners turnaround in form and rise up the Premier League table.
The mental strength and refusal to give up that has been behind him rescuing an Arsenal career that seemed to be tailing off into a footnote is just the sort of things football fans to love to see from our players. And the combative young Frenchman can seal his place in the hearts of Gooners this weekend by stopping Chelsea, and one of our former favourites Cesc Fabregas, and helping Arsene Wenger to a first win over Jose Mourinho.
Coquelin has been speaking to Arsenal Player about the game on Sunday and is clearly relishing the chance to test himself against players like Eden Hazard and Fabregas. If I was them I would not be looking forward to facing our central midfielder though, as he seems determined to prove himself against them. He is certainly showing no fear.
Coquelin said, “We’ve played against big teams in the last few weeks.
“Liverpool have Philippe Coutinho, and now it’s going to be different opposition with Eden Hazard. He is probably one of the best players in the league, maybe even the best this season. It’s going to be a tough game but like in every big game you want to win.
“Hazard and Cesc Fabregas are great players who can do such great things at any time in the day. You need to be focused the whole time and that’s what I’m trying to do for the 90 minutes.”
The top of the table clash on Sunday is also a chance for Coquelin to measure himself arguably the best player at his position in the league, Nemanja Matic, and our star has clearly watched the big Serbian closely, perhaps even modelling his own style a little on his.
Coquelin also said, “What he’s done is unbelievable. At Chelsea he is one of the main men so credit to him, he’s had a great season and is a great player. It’s always good to play against players like that.
“It’s an important position and Matic has shown how important he is – that’s what I’m trying to do as well for Arsenal. The fans want a good defensive midfielder, they know it’s important for the team.”
It could be that these two defensive midfielders could decide the result, but which one?