Could Coquelin become as good as Vieira for Arsenal?

Don´t get me wrong Arsenal fans, because I love what Francis Coquelin has done for the Gunners since an injury crisis forced Arsene Wenger to not only recall him early from his latest loan spell but play him in the first team as well. Credit, therefore, goes to the boss as well as the player and Wenger must be delighted that his decision not to offload the young Frenchman has paid off.

The manager was speaking about his fellow countryman this week, in a report on the Arsenal website, and explaining why he thinks that Coquelin has flourished so quickly and surprised everyone in the Premier League. Perhaps not so much with his energy and tough tackling, although they have been fantastic, but with his discipline, decision making and reading of the game and its dangerous moments for Arsenal.

Wenger said, “I explained to him that what I liked most was his ball-winning potential rather than his playmaking potential, so I sent him out on loan to France for experience. He played without being convincing in the box-to-box role.

“He then went to Charlton and I sent somebody to watch him. The reports were positive and I called him back after five weeks, and he wasn’t happy. I said to him, ‘why are you not happy?’ and he said, ‘I was playing regularly for Charlton and you called me back just to cover and not to play me’.

“We went into the first game and I didn’t start him. Then we went to West Ham United and I started him. He was surprised because we played at home against QPR and I didn’t play him, but I did away at West Ham.

“Since then, he has not moved out of the team because he sticks to what he is strong at – winning the ball and using it well. What is also surprising is that he’s very good in the air because he has a very good leap.

“I always remind him that we have gone through a long period of suffering and I tell him not to forget that – always remember who you are. That is a very great example for young kids because you make a career with one dominant quality, but sometimes you forget who you are.

“He’s a good example but the other good example is that he arrived at 17 and has finally made it at 24. It’s unbelievable how patient and open-minded you have to be.”

I can certainly understand that Le Prof does not want Coquelin to change anything about the way he is playing at the moment, because we need him to make sure that the season ends strongly and with the FA cup staying at the Emirates, but is Wenger not being a bit harsh on his player?

Surely every player wants to improve and I think that Coquelin´s passing and possession has already improved markedly in the last few months. He may have one dominant quality but should that stop him trying to add other strings to his bow and becoming more of an all round player like the great Patrick Vieira?

Tags Coquelin Vieira Wenger


  1. Who knows and who cares?? All i know is the guy is as good as any dmid in the world right now and at a perfect age. he also seems very durable and strong… lol are we sure hes a gunner?

    1. OT. Apparently Bayern want Di Maria, Hope we buy Muller as competition for Giroud!! He would be the best buy for me.

    2. He has the potential.It depends on his hardwork if he becomes as good as Viera or Gilberto.

    3. He is NOT as good as any DM in the world right now. He does the defensive part well but the other side of being a DM he’s not so good at, the elite DM’s are far more balanced. That’s the truth no matter how valiantly he’s performed since his re-inception.

      People have scoffed at us getting a better DM with quips about how nobody beats Coquelin for tackles/duels etc….but that’s not where the upgrade will be and it will be more obvious when a player of the same defensive ability comes in but with way more in the locker as far as balling is concerned.

      1. We’ve crossed swords on this before – but I buy what you say and thumbed you up so don’t bite too hard on this.

        My problem is, and I can’t for the life of me work out what is on Wenger’s mind long term, is the 4-1-4-1 system he has adopted. We can all see what Coquelin has been instructed to do – win the ball back and give it Cazorla as quickly as possible and don’t try any of that fancy stuff. He appears to be doing that with remarkable effect. I honestly don’t see anyone out there at the moment who can clearly and obviously do that important but limited task significantly more effectively. He is a wrecking ball. You could put Busquets in there and he would be more creative in distribution and get the counterattacks going more quickly – but the guy is not a ball-winner in the way Coquelin is. Coming down-market, Carrick is similar at United – very, very tidy in possession but not a hugely creative presence. But he tends to mop up possession rather than win it, no great physicality.

        What I can’t see however is how Coquelin is properly equipped to play in a midfield pair in a 4-2-3-1 formation – Wenger’s preferred formation until recently. But Schneiderlin would be a fantastic choice in there with say Ramsey.

        Not expecting you to agree with the above but do you see the 4-1-4-1 thing as a temporary measure?

        1. I do agree, very valid reasoning. Wenger commented recently on coquelin and said he is where he is because he’s finally embraced what he’s good at (disrupting play), rather than trying to “play” where he has obvious limitations.

          I think Wenger is a shrewd manager and adopted tactics that suited the players he had – rather than try the square peg round hole thing we’ve done in previous years (arteta….although I rate him).

          However give Arsene his bulldog with passing range etc and I think you’ll see us play very Southampton-like in formation ironically which is more solid as they’ve shown, albeit with “lesser players”. Not against coquelin at all, very impressed with him this year….simply convinced he’ll become our security blanket figure in the mold of Mikel at chelsea (a superior version might I add).

        2. @jonestown

          Why do you think we play a 4-1-4-1 when it’s clear as day we play a 4-2-3-1? We’ve always played a 4-2-3-1 that’s wengers preferred formation. Do you see ozil and cazorla sharing the space playing level with each other? No way ozil is way further forward with the entire freedom of the pitch. santi plays the b2b role now and lines up with Le coq in a 2 man midfield the only difference is he is much more disciplined than ramsey so and he very carefully chooses when it’s appropriate to venture forward.

          1. Fair point but our formations have always been exceptionally fluid so it is often difficult to see exactly what is going on. I’ve seen our Invincibles described as 4-4-2, 4-3-3 and you could make a case for a skewed 4-2-3-1. Freeze frame a match shot at any time and Coquelin is occupying lateral space all by himself in front of the back 4. He never pivots with Cazorla in front on him or swaps space. End of the day the formation description is not as important as the roles assigned – Coq’s appears very specific and very rigid to me hence the “4-1-4-1” label better describes what is going on and what you see on the pitch. I’don’t think I am alone nor the only one who labelled it such.

    4. If Coquelin had appeared from nowhere this season playing for someone like Southampton every Arsenal fan would be begging Arsene to buy him for £20m. He needs support/competition when Flamini and Arteta leave in the summer(and they will) Wanyama would be the perfect signing in this situation.

    5. No one will ever be as good as viera…he bossed the midfield like a monster and made Roy Keane shiiit in his pants all the time. Lecoq is quality,pure class and is the right man for our DM position. We still need someone to back him up.

    6. If Coquelin had appeared from nowhere playing for someone like Southampton this season all gunners would be begging Arsene to sign him for £20m. He needs competion as Flamini and Arteta will leave this summer on frees and Wanyama would be the perfect signing.

  2. His stats are right up there with the best. But Flamini or Arteta cannot cut it out anymore to cover him. They are on the wrong side of 30. We need a cover for him, incase he sustains an injury. Beilik is too young and under experienced. In the summer we should address this, hopefully.

    1. Goodness. For the first time, Arsenal have benefited from injury. Where would our season have been with Flamini & Arteta without Le Coq? Because Wenger wouldn’t have bought a proper DM. Now I agree with you Sumo, we need a back-up as he has raised the standard that Arteta cannot meet. Can the young Pole bought in January meet it? Not so soon.

      1. I actually think Arteta would have done quite well within this new found defensive unit. He hadnt got the pace to run all along width of pitch but was always adept at intercepting… i think he could sit back and pick a man knowing the lads have him covered.

  3. Credit to Coquelin. Got his chance and holding on to it with solid performances. My Mr. Consistent for Arsenal tbh.

  4. As long as he win the ball and make a pass to counter or win it and give any other player, that’s fine with me. He is playing well and sometimes trying to do other stuff will let u stray away from what u really are or can do best. Besides, we have loads of players around him that could do the trick so all he needs to do is win the ball and make a decent pass to the players around him.

    1. I see your point and agree 100% that a Dmid should keep things very simple. But i love that he has such great skill and creativity with his feet. We’ve seen him pull some sick moves to get out of a situation or Two. Hes exactly what an Arsenal dmid should be

  5. In football its very important to be humble and listen from your managers. Wenger said you make a career from what you do best. Coq was thinking he is a box to box midfielder and that affected him because players like cazola jack and rambo are more skillful. Now you can see that he does the simple stuff and he is amazing at doing them. I don’t care if he never scores. In fact I don’t want him to score. he ha shown zero ambition in going forward and thats just what we needed. Makelele hardly ever scored but good lord he was bloody fantastic.

    Win the ball pass it forward and retrieve to your position. he gives protection to the back 4. How many times do we say Per is goona be roasted before a game? Yet that never seems to happen as Coq is always there.

  6. Sorry, but no credit for Wenger for playing Coquelin at all. Wenger had no choice but to play him because of the injuries, and our shocking form for almost the entire first half of the season. Coquelin has taken his chance, and in doing so, he has proved Wenger wrong! Arsenal DID need a DM, despite what Wenger thought, season after season.

    For me Coquelin is our player of the season. Sanchez has been world class since arriving, and has carried the team on his back for the most part, but we were still dropping points, and playing some awful football. But since Coquelin’s arrival, we finally had that balance, we’ve hardly droppped any points, and we’ve massively improved in the big games. Sanchez has been unbelievable, but we still had the exact same problems with the team, which has been going on for years. Coquelin has changed everything!

    Long may it continue!!

    1. Agreed but man management also plays a huge part in his achievements. Give credit where it is due.

    2. OK, no credit whatsoever to Wenger – if that floats your boat then fair play. The majority of football fans are happy for their manager to get “lucky”. It is the job of most football managers to try and get players to prove them wrong if their career is faltering. We can give credit to Wenger for buying him in the first place, developing him for 7 years, for not giving up when it would have been easy to do so, not selling him, for repeatedly putting him out on loan to try and improve/motivate him, for taking the decision to recall him, to dropping Flamini and then sticking with him on the back of his performances.

      It may have been forgotten by some, but he was recalled to cover for Ramsey being injured on the back of Arteta already being out. He used him as a sub for 3 matches before his first start against West Ham – Flamini was available through all of this.

      Wenger got lucky in the sense that Coquelin exceeded his expectations, but he wasn’t lucky in having him available and ready to do a job – if he didn’t believe he could do a job he wouldn’t have recalled him.

    3. @thirdman. there is a reason why Coquelin was never played in midfield even while on loan. I watched 1 of his games in germany and he was playing RW. The DM position needs decipline and certain players feel they are better than that position.
      When Guadiola put Toure on the bench for Barcelona he sited the word discipline. But people were thinking Busquet plays because he is Spanish. busquet is the best player in the word in that position. Sometimes he is just 1 meter away from his CB. he has no ambition to go forward.

      Coq was to offensive to be a DM. Even in the under 20 Frimpong was the one that stayed back and gave licence to Coq and Jack to attack. wenger deserve credit for letting Coq understand that its either that or nothing for him.

  7. Yes, he could become as good as viera but he has no-one behind him that can cover for him which is why i’m glad to hear we’re approaching schneiderlin. I honestly think schneiderlin’s signature is secured, 3 more players and we’re set for next year.

  8. Breaking News! Arsenal has exended Arteta’s contract,to cover for Conquelin next season while he wait for Beilik to gain Expirence. Forget what you are reading in newsprints,it will take a miracle for us to sign a DM this summer

  9. Coquelin is excellent, but we need 1 more top DM because Coquelin won’t play every game, cover injury, and push Coquelin to make him better. Without competition, a player can get lazy.

    With Coquelin, Arteta, Chambers, Bielik, I’m not 100% sure that Wenger will go for a top DM. He may go after a free transfer

    But I’m hoping that I’m wrong and he gets someone like Kondogbia, Schneiderlin, Wynama, etc.

  10. No matter how hard we try, we cannot recreate the invincibles by trying to have like for like players. There is only one Bergkamp and one Viera. Coquelin is good at shielding the defence. Let him stick to that. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. We have found our balance since Le Coque and Ospina became regulars. We have enough attacking play makers to run up and down the pitch. Le Coque should remain a ball winner. That is the formula that is working right now and there is no need to change it. If Shneiderlin comes in, he can do all that box to box stuff because he is good at that. Not everybody can do that. One aspect of your game invariably suffers when you try to do everything but stick to your strong point and the boss has been very clear about that. Alex song was an okay defensive midfielder when he was with us but each time he did the box to box thing, we got hit on the counter. That doesn’t happen to us any more because we have finally found our balance. A defensive midfielder should not be burdened with play making responsibilities.

  11. Yes, he has potential. Wat if he gets injured, we should have WC backup. Everyone says schinderlin will do that job. He is good but I prefer kongdobia..good in air, better dribbler n stronger than schinderlin and has champions league exp. Look at his cl videos. My preference 1. Kongdo, 2. Schinderlin 3. Carvalho
    BTW, v can’t buy pogba. Impossible!

  12. No. He is not Vieira. Vieira was a CM who was very strong and very good at winning balls in the middle of the park. Coquelin is a DM who reads the game and plugs gaps in order to win the ball and shift it quickly to more technical players.

    The game has moved on. Coquelin plays alot more like Gilberto than Vieira and is far more defensively minded. He doesn’t have the ability to drive or pass through a defence that Vieira had and you will never see Coquelin pop up with a goal or two.

    None of this matters – the guy is playing frigging quality and fulfilling the role we need him to. We don’t need Vieira, we need Coq.

  13. He’s doing well but c’mon. He’s no Vieira, that guy was a true leader and literally everywhere on the pitch- Coquelin will never have some of Vieira’s skillset – more of a Makelele type but far too early for that comparison even.

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