Francis Coquelin had never really broken into Arsenal’s first team squad on a regular basis and it looked like he was finished at the Emirates when Wenger sent him off to Charlton on loan, but he played well at the Valley and when Aaron Ramsey got injured Wenger did the sensible thing and recalled Coquelin back to the fold.
With the busy Xmas period Wenger had no choice really but to play him against West Ham, and despite Wenger´s reservations, he put in a solid shift. Le Prof remarked after the game: “He (Coquelin) played very well, especially in the first half. He was very influential and then in the second half he fatigued a bit in the last 20 minutes, but he had a very good performance not only defensively but he also passed quickly, sharply and through the lines. Overall he had a convincing performance.
“It was a gamble, but I felt that we needed to protect with two players in front of the defence with Carroll on the long balls – we needed a bit of protection. I feel that he was the right choice.”
The fact is that it may have been more of a gamble if Coquelin hadn’t got any game time and had spent the last five months in the reserves, so it was definitely a good experience for the Frenchman to play at Charlton. Coquelin admitted that much when he said after the win at West Ham: “It’s been a long time for me without starting in the Premier League, but I think the loan at Charlton was very good for me and helped me a lot,”
“I got a lot of games under my belt, and I’d like to thank Charlton for that.”
With Ramsey no closer to returning to the squad, there is every chance that Coquelin will also play on Thursday against high-flying Southampton. If he continues to do a good job for the Gunners, will the fans stop calling for Wenger to bring in a new defensive midfielder?