Arsenal Analysis – Coquelin faultless but biggest tests to come

Is Francis Coquelin a long term solution to Arsenal’s need of a solid No.4? by SE

Francis Coquelin has been a revelation for Arsenal this season, coming in at a time when both Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey sustained ankle and hamstring injuries, respectively, during that mid-December period and Arsene Wenger had no choice but to recall his prodigious midfielder, who was on loan at Charlton Athletic, to Arsenal duty.

Since making a substitute appearance in the 4-1 demolition of Newcastle United at the Emirates last December, the 23-year old midfielder has gone on to make 20 appearances for the Gunners across all competitions. He has looked lively and chock-a-block with energy during those 20 appearances, and been one of the crucial players in Arsenal’s renaissance over the last couple of months. In the long term, however, can the Frenchman be the solution to Arsenal’s need of a solid No.4?

In 15 Premier League games he has played in so far, Coquelin has won 51% of his attempted tackles and an impressive 68% of his aerial duels. He has read the game well more often than not, and took up proper positions ahead of the backline, which has been crucial to his success this season. He has yet to make a defensive error in the Premier League, though he has committed 17 fouls and picked up 4 yellow cards. Coquelin hasn’t rendered much to his team in an attacking sense, as expected, completing 83% of his attempted passes and creating 3 goal scoring chances in 15 league fixtures.

In the two Champions League games against AS Monaco, the Frenchman’s form has been equally impressive as his domestic form. He managed to win 6 of his 9 attempted tackles over those 2 games, while winning 4 of his 7 aerial duels and completing 6 of his 9 attempted take-ons. He also committed 3 fouls during 131 minutes of action against the Ligue 1 side.

Coquelin’s most impressive game of the season came against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, which Arsenal went onto win comprehensively by 2-0. The 23-year old was alert to every danger the hosts tried to cause, as he marshalled his troops authoritatively and nullified David Silva’s threat completely. Over the course of 90 minutes against the reigning English champions, Coquelin won all of his attempted tackles (3) and an astonishing 7 of his 8 aerial duels, indicating the control he had over proceedings that day. In addition to his tackling and heading prowess, Coquelin made 6 interceptions, 11 clearances and didn’t commit a single foul.

Looking ahead to the upcoming games for Arsenal, it will be interesting to see how he fares against Liverpool and Chelsea, two teams that travel to Emirates during April. The Merseysiders and London derby rivals, with the power and mobility they possess in their midfield ranks, will pose a fresh challenge to Coquelin who definitely will be looking forward to playing in those games.

That is going to be his real test, at least in the near future, to see how well he can play when pitted against the likes of Nemanja Matic, Cesc Fabregas, Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho. Coquelin has been rather impressive so far, showing plenty of promise for the years to come. However, his performances against Chelsea and Liverpool will prove to us whether or not he belongs to this stage.


Tags Coquelin Liverpool Man City


  1. Asenals run of good form suggests
    Coquelin is indeed Arsenals long term
    solution at no 4. So do we need
    Schneiderlin? Not at the 25 mill asking price.
    Coquelin Arteta Flamini Bielik Chambers Gabriel
    can all play 4 if need be.
    With Chamberlain Wilshere Gnabry Jenkinson Zelalem
    Walcott Podolski Campbell Sanogo Wellington Akpom to come into the mix
    Arsenal are bursting at the seams with players.
    In fact we do not “need” to buy any one.

    1. You’re a clown. “Bursting at the seams with players” – Yea except Poldi, Campbell, Sanogo, Wellington, Jenks, and Flamini could be sold and no-one would bat an eyelid. That tells you their quality or suitability to our team.

      To improve the quality of the squad we DO NEED to buy players. Just you watch the winner of the CL, and champs of the Prem, La Liga, Ligue 1, Serie A…and every other league, make squad changes during the summer. The idea we don’t need anyone is ridiculous, too good are we?

      1. And it wasn’t me this time Charlie. Still think we have to re think this squad though to many old wood and quality. Wenger knows best,think that he has allready made his choices once we qualify for Champs Lge CB

  2. i hope arsenal don’t sub him for arteta or wilshere or even flamini for that matter cause it would not only put arsenal in jeopardy of losing 3-0 goal lead to 3-2 but arsene may go on to the extent of defending those trio who should be sold and i feel that the CDM position is for the first time in many years has shown a player earn with interest,dedication and skill.

    1. If we’re going to sell Wilshere, who do we buy instead? Keep in mind Wilshere is a homegrown player, so whoever replaces him has to be homegrown too.. Plus these proposed new rules also mean we need two ‘club’ players, that have been with the club since they were 15 years old or younger. We don’t have anyone else that fits that rule that’s better than Wilshere, so there’s no point getting rid of him.

      1. For all the good comments abt jack wilshere this year especially against beskitas and man utd, his problem is still obvious, majorly lack of end product, he just can’t give that accurate final pass or put the ball into the back of th net. He can be very good but he is not even half as good as he thinks, and don’t be deceived, he is almost as lazy as walcott in closing down attackers.

        Anyway I fink almost all of our English attackin players lacks end product maybe apart from walcott wch ironically is the only player wenger judges on current form rather on ao good he cud be cos welbck sudnt be playing ahead of hm

  3. I agree on Giroud and those inferior players although i admit to knowing next to nothing about Adriano. Still there is an argument for another striker as Welbeck is inferior to Giroud and if we can strengthen well then why not. Getting better than Giroud will be expensive and difficult as there are no guarantees.

    1. Good point. If we buy another striker, what happens to Welbeck? Can’t imagine selling him just a season after he was bought. Hopefully Sanogo will be sold, he can’t even break into the Crystal Palace team, but you never know with Wenger… Akpom also, I’d like to see him break through into the first team in the next couple of seasons, but with all those players in front of him, looks like quite a difficult task.

  4. Any squad needs at least two players for every position. Coquelin is good enough, but Arteta and Flamini aren’t, hence why we need to sign another DM in the summer.

    1. I absolutely agree with you Mick. Le Coq can have a great future ahead as a real quality DM.
      But if we’re competing in all comps we need strength in depth and there will be many tough games where we need to play 2 DMs.
      If we buy a Scheiderlin or similar international quality they can help Le Coq develop to his true potential. Also think Le Coq is potential captaincy material, becoz we need someone who’s not afraid to kick A**E during games – like Monaco at home

      1. “Like Monaco at home”…….where Coquelin played and was nowhere to be seen? Flawless logic.

  5. All hail le Coq I think he is the real deal, but we should let go of Flamini and sign a young DM that’ll be willing to sit on d bench

  6. It is some story of the Coquelin. I dont think anyone besides Arsene and the lad himself believed he could make such an impact. Although there were fans calling out for him to be played ahead of Flamini and even Arteta i can recall but i think that was more of a case being Arteta not agile or quick enough and Flamini just not cutting mustard. If you are a fan of Coqs who always believed he will come good credit to you… i havnt got Arsenes patience i must admit. If we do bring in another DM one things for sure, hell have a fight on his hands… I just hope that doesnt sway Schneiderlin or whoever against the move.

  7. The issue is that players should take advantage of the opportunity given to them to make a remarkable performance on the field which will strengthen their position in the 1st team squad selection. That’s what Coquelin has done that brought him to where he is now. But he still has a yard of improvement to cover ahead of him. For instance, he should strictly play his own game in the Arsenal way of playing. He is unnecessaryly holding up the Gunners acceleration when they are on the offensive as he will hold the ball and dances round with it to entertain or impress the fans. Thereby losing the ball to the opponent. That is playing to the gallery. And I have watched him trying to copy Obi Mikel of Chelsea style of play. No! he shouldn’t do that. He should play his own style of play.

  8. The issue is that a Gunner should take advantage of the opportunity given to him to make a remarkable performance on the field which will strengthen his position in the 18 man 1st team selection. That’s what Coquelin has done that brought him to where he is now. But he still has a yard of improvement to cover ahead of him. For instance, he should strictly play his own game in the Arsenal way of playing. He is unnecessaryly holding up the Gunners acceleration when they are on the offensive as he will hold the ball and dances round with it to entertain or impress the fans only to lose the ball to the opponent player. That is playing to the gallery. And I have watched him trying to copy Obi Mikel of Chelsea style of play. No! he shouldn’t do that. He should play his own style of play. This comment from me on the same subject superseded my 1st comment that has some errors on it.

  9. There’s others out there (Schneiderlin/Gustavo/Gonalons) who have more defensive acumen and far more ability on-the-ball than Coquelin. For Arsenal fans to be satisfied with Coquelin as our DM is a real worry, he’s a good option to have as rotation but he’s not elite.

    “Coquelin faultless” – reads the title, and it goes to mention his numbers in the Monaco tie. But how warped is that logic when we got roasted at home to a team who played on the counter. Someone please tell me how Coquelin gets his praises sung about that game? or how about Tottenham away where we couldn’t get the ball off them, where was the dominant midfielder? Bit of humility in the analysis wouldn’t go amiss.

    He’s a good player, better than Flamini, and still with room to grow. But articles like this claiming brilliance or faultless performance levels are cringeworthy to say the least. He deserves a mention for performing well since his inception, but anyone who argues he’s good enough to be our primary DM is kidding themselves on – not the first instance a fan has overstated the ability of one of their own.

    1. You do realise that Le Coq has better stats than Schneiderlin, Gustavo and Gonalons?
      Who out of the players mentioned would get their nose broken, refuse to come off, get hit again in the same match and play on, get (purposefully) hit by Felaini in a subsequent game but play on and dominate Fellaini?
      Coquelin has the biggest balls in the team and most of the PL.

      In the Monaco and Spurs games Coquelin put in a good performance but the rest of the team were dismal, the guy can only cover so much ground, 10 vs 1 doesn’t really give a basis for slating Coquelin.

      1. Yea sorry mate I don’t live and breathe by players stats. I’ve said he’s got a good engine and is a battler/determined etc. But if you’re gonna sit here and try and tell me he had good games vs spurs and Monaco I’ll have to end the discussion, cos that’s pure ignorance.

        Against spurs they had 70% of the ball and had us pinned in our half all game. That’s when a DM earns his stripes, he tackles and uses the ball well to alleviate pressure. Didn’t happen. Against Monaco we were killed in transition which is when a DM should be at his best, we gave up 3 goals that way. Not his fault solely, but an elite DM doesn’t concede 3 goals like that in one game.

        The players I mentioned are better DM’s period. They are more intelligent with their positioning, and are leagues better in possession. There’s more to that anchor role than getting hit in the face and staying on the pitch, far too ‘English’ a mentality to covet a battler over a baller.

        1. no, you don’t trust stats but then you spew off an analysis that is not only completely wrong based on simple observation but also has no statistical backing whatsoever.

          Arsenal vs Monaco; all three goals had nothing to do with Coquelin; the first one was Welbeck losing the ball and Kongdogbia getting a really lucky deflection for the goal by shooting very far out (which normally wouldn’t be a goal) and on Cazorla’s side of the pitch who didn’t close down fast enough. Second goal was completely Mertesacker’s fault who decided to leave his man on a solo run by attacking the man on the ball who already had multiple people attacking him (including Coq). Third goal… oh, that’s right, he wasn’t even the pitch for that because he was replaced by Ox who scored and was at fault.

          On to Spurs: Coq had the best pass rate including all the pass masters Cazorla, Ozil, Ramsey. Only Merte had it better and we all know his passes consist of back and forth in the back line. In addition, he had the most tackles so he was breaking up play but our lack of possession says far more about our RETENTION of possession rather than our turnover rate (which is the role he helps with).

          And then you just throw out some random names; Gonalons who plays in the french league so basically hit and miss for PL, Gustavo who I wouldn’t have minded a couple seasons ago but based on your logic should be forever disregarded because he started in their 7-1 loss to Germany (surely it was his job to save the day) and then schniederlin who again, quality but isn’t even a proper DMF.

          Then you criticise “english” mentality… That’s what we have been shouting for in a DMF for years and in he comes and we look far stronger because of it.

          1. I said I don’t use stats to base an opinion of a player entirely. Who does? you apparently. Funny because you love your stats yet fail to acknowledge Gonalons and Schneiderlin who have superior stats than Coquelin… instead lie and say Coquelins are better.

            You say all 3 goals had nothing to do with Coquelin but that’s not the least bit statistical, that’s pure opinion….one which i completely disagree with s a DM should be the first line of defence which he wasn’t vs monaco. Kondogbia shot from 25 yards out in the middle of the goal just ahead of our CB’s….in other words Coquelins position. But dodge that as it suits you. Then gloss over the Dm’s role to TRACK runners. Happened again vs Newcastle with Cabelle who ran off the back of Coquelin after playing a one-two and they scored. No stat that highlights that because you have to have understanding of the game to see what his role is. You clearly don’t.

            Best pass rate along with Per, cos we know what Per’s passing consists of, square to Kos or into one of the full backs. A DM should be capable of far more than Coqs 6 yard recycled possession. He averages 41 passes per game at 83% to Gonalons 60 at 88% and Schneiderlins 62 at 89%. He’s dross in possession, but you’re happy to say he’s awesome because he played on with a broken nose. Glad your standards are awful, mine aren’t. I bet you any sum of money Coquelin is replaced in the lineup come the summer….and what will that say to you? Classic bandwagon praise for someone who shows an ounce of fight in spite of his clear deficiencies in his game. You continue championing Coquelin, my vote is for Schneiderlin/Gonalons. Let’s see who has better judgement come the summer.

  10. I never though Le Coq would be this good. A couple years ago, before he went on loan for a long stretch, I though he would be sold soon as he just wasn’t ever going to be more than a solid utility player. Great to have on the bench as he can come in and play adequately at several positions, but never someone that is going to start regularly. Then he goes to Germany and solidifies that argument.

    And then he comes in this season and is unquestionable our best DM at the moment. I have already been proven wrong on my analysis there, but for me he is still a rotation player that should be sharing time with another DM of the same level or better. But, we don’t have another decent DM right now.

    I think for Coquelin to be really effective as a DM he needs a true B2B player next to him or else another player that is primarily a DM. He isn’t an enforcer. He isn’t going to dominate teams single-handedly, and his passing and retention still aren’t good enough for me to hand him the keys. In the right style, with the right combination of players in the midfield, Le Coq can be great. But I am not sure he is the long term solution here.

    Either way, we still need another DM. Someone that can push Le Coq for minutes or overtake him in the lineup. Flamini is done, Arteta shouldn’t be forced to continue playing out of position, Ramsey just isn’t good enough or disciplined enough defensively, and Wilshere doesn’t even attempt to defend anymore.

    1. Universality – complete footballers who can defend, attack, have pace and strength and can interchange positions..this is the what the new brand of football is evolving to. Michels, Cruyff, Sacchi, LVG, Pep, Bielsa have all embraced this concept – one could argue Michels was the father of this movement.
      Specialist positions like a DM will be a thing of the past. Of course the GK will only ever be a GK or Sweeper 🙂
      From this perspective players like JW, Rambo, Santi, Ox, Coq are vital. They obviously each need to work on different aspects of their overall game but simply getting a midfield “destroyer” like a Wanyama is not the long term option. You want someone who is a deep lying playmaker, defensive mid, and box-2-box player. They are rarely world class at one role but exceptional in all 3 functions.
      I think the kids like Bielik and Chambers are being groomed for this. Foremost – they need to have intelligence to complement their athletic and technical abilities.
      It wouldn’t surprise me at all to one day see Sanchez (when he gets older and his pace drops off a little) playing at a deeper position in the middle of the park – kind of where Santi plays at times with Coq.

      Anyway just sharing some stuff…

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