Did Wenger really just compare Coquelin to Kante?
Arsene Wenger has been labelled with many names over the years, many of which will suggest he is losing the plot. Wacky decisions in terms of substitutions and team selections started the trend, whilst his willingness to tell fans just how close he came to signing some of the best players currently in the professional game, also makes him look quite foolish. However in yet another unbelievable, ‘shaking of the head’ moment, Wenger has now compared Francis Coquelin to N’Golo Kante.
Kante needs no introduction as a player, we all know him well. A premier league title winner in his first season in England with lowly Leicester City and he was a part of that team that such success was detrimental to. Without Kante in that side last year, I’m not sure if Leicester would’ve achieved what is still quite hard to believe. Kante is everywhere on the pitch, he’s an engine with both a tactical and defensive mind. He knows how to put in a good challenge, as well as make clever interceptions through reading the game well. He is the unit in midfield that has dramatically improved Chelsea this year, in the same way as he brought new light to Leicester last season.
Wenger of course, rather unsurprisingly, had the opportunity to sign Kante in the summer, with the boss talking to the Champions about transfers of Kante, Vardy and Mahrez. The Gunners of course ended up with nothing. Wenger instead opted for Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka, who really hasn’t had the best of times with Arsenal so far; and when the media got on his back about the issue this weekend, he somehow decided to liken Coquelin to Kante.
‘Xhaka is more about distribution of the pass and Kante is more the ball winner, with the real technique to steal the ball without making the foul,’ Wenger said. ‘You should compare Kante more with Coquelin than with Xhaka. Xhaka is more a distribution player.’
The reason for why Wenger was originally talking about Xhaka and then Coquelin, is because he was questioned as to whether he should’ve considered signing Kante instead of Xhaka in the summer. He then proceeded to argue that the two of them are incomparable. Whilst I agree that Xhaka and Kante should in effect do the same job, but in practice they certainly do not. Xhaka does not possess the same ability to win the ball back through technique. Xhaka is reckless and aggressive in the tackle, whilst Kante is tactical and uses technique rather than clattering into his opponents. Xhaka has his qualities, but playing the defensive midfielder role like Kante does, is not one of them.
Then to bring the subject onto Coquelin, is one of Wenger’s biggest issues. Denial and excuses make up a lot of his current statements. If it’s not blaming the referee, it’s the weather conditions, lack of support or ongoing pressure. There is denial in his eyes and once again when posed with the awkward scenario where his decisions are being questioned, Wenger makes yet another unforgivable statement.
Coquelin had his prime time at Arsenal and he was considered a saviour the season he returned from on-loan. But his form has faltered and he is no longer as important to this Arsenal side as he once was. He is not comparable to Kante, he barely gets to start every match let alone be considered to have the same technique and ability as his fellow Frenchman. Kante is a regular French international and is being considered a strong contender for the PFA Player of the Year; two areas that Coquelin cannot claim and realistically is very unlikely to ever be named for.
Wenger has to recognise that the club has made a few poor decisions this season alone and although nobody expects him to put his hands up and say he was wrong in front of all those cameras, it does not make sense to worsen the situation by making a statement that is quite frankly ridiculous.