Don´t get me wrong Arsenal fans, because I love what Francis Coquelin has done for the Gunners since an injury crisis forced Arsene Wenger to not only recall him early from his latest loan spell but play him in the first team as well. Credit, therefore, goes to the boss as well as the player and Wenger must be delighted that his decision not to offload the young Frenchman has paid off.
The manager was speaking about his fellow countryman this week, in a report on the Arsenal website, and explaining why he thinks that Coquelin has flourished so quickly and surprised everyone in the Premier League. Perhaps not so much with his energy and tough tackling, although they have been fantastic, but with his discipline, decision making and reading of the game and its dangerous moments for Arsenal.
Wenger said, “I explained to him that what I liked most was his ball-winning potential rather than his playmaking potential, so I sent him out on loan to France for experience. He played without being convincing in the box-to-box role.
“He then went to Charlton and I sent somebody to watch him. The reports were positive and I called him back after five weeks, and he wasn’t happy. I said to him, ‘why are you not happy?’ and he said, ‘I was playing regularly for Charlton and you called me back just to cover and not to play me’.
“We went into the first game and I didn’t start him. Then we went to West Ham United and I started him. He was surprised because we played at home against QPR and I didn’t play him, but I did away at West Ham.
“Since then, he has not moved out of the team because he sticks to what he is strong at – winning the ball and using it well. What is also surprising is that he’s very good in the air because he has a very good leap.
“I always remind him that we have gone through a long period of suffering and I tell him not to forget that – always remember who you are. That is a very great example for young kids because you make a career with one dominant quality, but sometimes you forget who you are.
“He’s a good example but the other good example is that he arrived at 17 and has finally made it at 24. It’s unbelievable how patient and open-minded you have to be.”
I can certainly understand that Le Prof does not want Coquelin to change anything about the way he is playing at the moment, because we need him to make sure that the season ends strongly and with the FA cup staying at the Emirates, but is Wenger not being a bit harsh on his player?
Surely every player wants to improve and I think that Coquelin´s passing and possession has already improved markedly in the last few months. He may have one dominant quality but should that stop him trying to add other strings to his bow and becoming more of an all round player like the great Patrick Vieira?