Arsenal fans, if they are anything like me, will still be wondering why Arsene Wenger chose to start with Mathieu Flamini as the holding midfielder against AFC Bournemouth instead of the fit again Francis Coquelin. I can only assume that it was an issue about the younger Frenchman’s match fitness even though Coquelin was on the bench and did come on for the final 25 minutes.
I really hope that he is filly match ready again now following two months out of action with a knee injury and I am not alone. One man who knows all about what it takes to play for Arsenal in that crucial holding role is the Brazilian Gilberto Silva and he clearly feels that the Gunners have finally found a player who can match up to the standards set by Patrick Vieira and himself.
In fact Gilberto, as reported by the Evening Standard, appears to think that Coquelin deserves even more credit because of his age and how he has done it off his own back rather than merely fitting in with the players around him as the Brazilian did.
Gilberto said, ““He is improving game by game and from last season to this one he is much better. He is getting to know his position well and that’s important because his role is to allow those up front to play while protecting the back four. He will be very important for Arsenal in the final third of the season.
“He is a young player and what he’s done for Arsenal in the short time he’s been playing has been great. When I was at Arsenal I was older, with more experience and big guys around me.
“He is proving himself over and over and I hope he is at Arsenal for a long period because for any team to have a player who is willing to do the hard job then it makes it harder for the opposition to pass through your defence.”
The former Gunner also thinks that Coquelin’s talents could be vital for the team this weekend, as he sees the clash against league leaders Leicester City as a really tough test of Arsenal’s defensive strength. But if we can stand strong and get the right result in this game, Gilberto thinks that it will be a big step towards regaining the EPL title, something he feels the current squad have the ability to do.
He continued, “I think Arsenal can win the league but that depends how well they do in the crucial games. Leicester is one of them and from now on every point Arsenal drop will make Leicester believe more. Arsenal have not won the league in a long time but I believe they have a great chance this season.
“It’s important for Arsenal to have a very defensive mind considering what Leicester can do. They must mark well throughout the whole field from the guys up front to the midfield protecting the back four. They must close the space because we all know what a great job Vardy has done this season. That starts from the front and it is important to mark well as a team.”
Will Coquelin start ahead of Flamini? And will he help Arsenal to a massive three points and play a vital role in the title challenge as the season builds to a grandstand finish?