Arsenal may have been a bit short of numbers or quality in certain areas of the pitch in recent years, with the keeper situation, the defence and the attack all getting fair criticism at times, but one area where the Gunners have had more than enough quality is in the midfield.
Well to be more precise, the attacking and creative side of midfield, as the need for what we might call a `proper´ defensive midfielder had become a tried old topic for Arsenal fans and the football media alike. Not anymore though, as Francis Coquelin has exploded onto the first team scene like a scatter bomb.
The Frenchman´s stats are awesome, such as the one showing that Coquelin has made the most tackles of any Premier League player since his return from a loan spell at Charlton. Check out this stunning comparison on Squawka.com which shows Le Coq panning Matic, Henderson, Fernandinho and Schneiderlin in a wide ranger of factors.
To be fair, he does not fare quite so well on the possession and creative sides of the game, but as Aaron Ramsey explains in a report on the Arsenal website, that is not his job. What Coquelin does brilliantly is anchor the midfield and gives the likes of Ramsey, Cazorla and Ozil the freedom to do what they do best and Ramsey clearly feels it is a great benefit to the whole team.
The Welshman said, “He’s been really good. He’s very aggressive and doesn’t give the opposition much time on the ball, and that’s why he wins so many tackles. Then he wins the ball and makes us tick over.
“It’s been really good to see his development this year, he’s had a superb couple of months now so hopefully he can continue that.
“It is quite comforting knowing that one of the midfielders is behind you in position, thinking more defensively. It is something that he does really well.
“There are a number of players who are more than capable of putting in good performances in the middle and we have shown that with the number of different combinations we’ve had this season.
“There’s definitely a fight for our places and everyone is keeping each other on their toes – it’s good that we have that strength in depth now.”
One midfield does seem to have been secured though, as Wenger has kept faith with Coquelin since his return and Flamini has become just cover for his younger team mate. How did we ever cope without Coquelin?