Arsenal fans have been well aware of how well the young French midfielder Francis Coquelin has been playing, since Arsene Wenger recalled him early from a loan spell at Charlton towards the end of last year, because he was faced with an injury crisis. We noticed straight away because it was so unexpected and can only wonder what would have happened if Coquelin had been in the side from the beginning of the season and playing as well as he has been from the start.
According to a report in the Daily Mail today, obviously not written by their resident Arsenal baiter Adrian Durham, the Gunners may even have won the title – as we have outperformed all other clubs since Coquelin came back. But this ignores the fact that we also got the likes of Giroud, Ozil and Ramsey back in this period so I don´t think we can lay all the success at the feet of Coquelin.
But Le Coq has been brilliant. So I looked at the stats table for the league´s top tacklers on Squawka.com and it makes interesting reading. Coquelin is down in 32nd place with Chelsea´s Matic number one and Morgan Schneiderlin in second but the stats are cumulative so you need to look more closely.
With just 18 games played, Coquelin is by far the highest if you look at it that way. The table shows the amount of tackles won, take-ons and aerial duels – and also their percentages. It also shows fouls conceded and won, and guess what? Coquelin kicks butt!
He scores more points per game than Matic and Schneiderlin, and also beats them both on fouls suffered and committed, and aerial duels, while Matic just edges him on take-ons and Schneiderlin on tackles per game. But the Arsenal star has the best percentages of all three, so there is more proof that Coquelin has been the best defensive midfielder in England since his return to the Emirates.
So do Arsenal really need a new DM?