Around two years ago, Arsenal’s annual injury crisis was worse than ever before, with Santi Cazorla being the only fit midfielder in the squad. As a result, the Gunners boss Arsene Wenger had to call upon Francis Coquelin, who was on loan at Charlton at the time, to partner the Spaniard, and it worked like magic. Coquelin grabbed the opportunity with open arms and excelled in Arsenal’s midfield.
The Frenchman brought something that was missing in the Arsenal side for a long time – tenacity, strong tackles, interceptions and he didn’t mind putting his body in the line of fire. With all that and more, Coquelin quickly became somewhat of a revelation and reached a stage where his name was the first to go on the team sheet, with Gunners legend Thierry Henry crediting Arsenal’s revival that season to the emergence of his countryman, even giving him the nickname ‘Columbo’.
But two years on, the situation is very different for the midfielder. While he has continued to work tirelessly, he has been prone to errors and seems to lack in ball distribution. The Frenchman now finds himself behind the likes of Granit Xhaka, Mohamed Elneny and Aaron Ramsey in the pecking order of the Gunners midfield and with Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere set to come into the picture next season, the future does not look very bright for Coquelin.
Now although Coquelin puts in the work and has a real appetite for the game, his shortcomings have been exposed on several occasions this season and the magic that he had brought with him two years ago seems to have worn off. With that being said, I really think Wenger should go into the market in the summer and bring in another holding midfielder who is more fit for the role of anchoring the Gunners midfield. In fairness to Wenger, he did try to bring in N’Golo Kante from Leicester last summer and it looks like the Arsenal boss will have to continue his search for a defensive midfielder this summer as well.