Why Arsene has got a massive Coq problem! But he may just have the solution for Arsenal….
Arsene has a problem – it’s big and delicate but it is the envy of many a manager in the EPL. Yes you guessed it, it is Coquelin and his rise in stature during the back end of last season.
So why is it a problem? I hear you ask. Well this is it. Coquelin is entering into his second season. Much like all the footballers that took last season by storm, the bar will be raised, like your Leicester’s who spend their first season being praised for staying up if they struggle in the same way next season, people will condemn them for their lack of progress. Players like Austin, Vardy and Ings will be under huge pressure to reproduce the same level as the season before and I’m sad to say that not all of these type of players will achieve that.
Just look at a player like Benteke, he had a worldie a few seasons ago but has never really recaptured that form. The difference between a really good player and a world class player is reaching that level and then maintaining it.
So the question is how does Arsene maintain Francis’s level of focus and intensity to ensure that he continues to thrive and grow into the legendary defensive midfielder that he can be?
Well the answer is short and sweet, bring in competition for his place. At the moment I would not need to take a gooner vote to find out which player would make their starting 11 in that defensive midfield role out of him, Arteta and Flamini. Le Coq wins all day long.
Aside from the fact that, should Coquelin get an injury we would be back in the same position we were before January there is also another problem that could arise and as an example I look at an ex-Gunner and his name is Alex Song.
He, like Coquelin, came from a Charlton loan spell, and like Coquelin he provided some athletic and dogged performances breaking up opposition attacks and playing to his strengths during his first season. Roll on a couple of seasons and he was brilliant, acting something close to the River Dance, scoring goals and pinging balls into the box for RVP. All sounds good right? Only those who really watched his performances would have noted that for every ball that worked out, nine went astray, and in the end he spent more time playing as the most advanced player, forcing Santi back to where Arteta should have been playing and Arteta into the defensive midfield role, before feeling he was too good for Arsenal and leaving for Barcelona to shine Messi’s boots.
So who should get the job of pushing Coquelin? Many would like to see players like Vidal, Gundogen or Pogba. There is no doubt that these names would be great at Arsenal but I have two problems with signing the likes of these players.
Firstly the players listed above are not defensive midfielders, both Pogba and Vidal are box to box players, they work off of each other much like Schneiderlin and Wanyama at Southampton. One goes and the other sees the hole and sits. Coquelin doesn’t offer that option at the moment he just sits, so Arsene would effectively be buying a replacement for Santi, Ramsey or Wilshire all of which are class! And Arsene will already have headaches deciding who to play as it is….
Secondly if, say for example, it worked and Vidal decided he would change his game slightly to a more sitting defensive role, it would quite simply be the end of Coquelin’s budding career. Many may say that this is what competition is all about but sometimes in football it is more about reputation, transfer fee and attitude.
Look at Ozil- When he was struggling for form. It was expected that Arsene would not drop him because of his name, his previous achievements, the 42 mil Arsene spent getting him and because he was dropped from Real Madrid a few times and he was off. Why spend 30-40 mil and stifle Coquelin’s career for a player who doesn’t necessarily perform in that position naturally anyway and Coquelin could potentially do a better job and knows the country, league and club well?
So what is the solution? Well this is a solution that has come to mind and is a very Arsenesque type solution. And it won’t be to every gooners taste but might just work while keeping the balance of the team.
Gabriel Paulista, now before you roll your eyes and sign off consider this, we effectively need a player that is a duplicate of Coquelin in his style of play. Gabriel is great at intercepting, positioning, tackling but most importantly keeps his game simple. He is also mobile and at 6ft 1 1/2 he has got better height the Le Coq. From what I’ve seen of him so far he is strong aerially as well. He has had half a year getting to know the club and his teammates as Arsene was describing in a recent interview that Gabriel could be revolutionary for Arsenal next season, is this what he meant?
I still think that Per and Koscielny will be Arsene’s no.1 & no.2 choice for centre back next season and I often felt that when this partnership was first created that Arsene should have at least attempted to offer our former captain, Vermaelen the chance to try his hand at this role.
Just to top it off Gabriel has mentioned before that one of his heroes is Gilberto Silva. If he can emulate anywhere near his ability then he would be the perfect Coquelin back up. If Arsene tested this out during pre-season I think that the worst that could happen is that he struggles and we have to go out to the market, and if he does well it will give Coquelin food for thought and should drive him on next season, while us Gooners will all sleep better knowing that if Coquelin gets injured there is someone capable to fill his role (that isn’t Arteta who’s legs have gone) or Flamini who isn’t quite good enough.
I think this would provide us with well-balanced competition in that position similar to the Monreal/Gibbs and Bellerin/Debuchy competition. It gives Gabriel more chance of playing and we could buy another cheapish Young up and coming utility player strong in the more defensive roles and use the rest of the money on Cech and a top, top draw striker.
What do you think fellow gooners?
Written By Darren Woolford.