How Coquelin compares to Arsenal’s transfer targets?

Analysis of Coquelin and a suited transfer target by VR

Good day all! Well, we all wanted a proper DM. Now – through planning or good fortune – we found a gem in the dust of the Championship that is Francis Coquelin, or Le Coq as he is affectionately known in online chats. Le Coq, through hard work, self belief and a no-nonsense attitude has shored up our midfield and really hit some heights, also against the so called “big teams”. Together with him and a more more healthy squad, a new signing at center-half, and a continued run for Ospina in goal Arsenal have put together a more impervious defense in comparison to the start of the season.

It is clear for everyone to see that we have needed someone disciplined to anchor our creative midfield for a long time – frankly since the likes of Gilberto and Vieira left the club. But is Le Coq the solution for seasons to come? Is he enough for Arsenal to push on win the EPL?

Judging by what I have seen and his statistics, I think he is – and at the same time he is not. Let me elaborate.

Le Coq is statistically the best defensive midfielder in the EPL at the moment. Note I say “defensive”. He is an absolute “beast” (to use the word that has been thrown at talented players on social media recently) when it comes to defending. He has won nearly 59.9% of his duels including an amazing 67.6% of his ariel duels. For his height this is quite remarkable. I think this was clear watching him at Old Trafford. He had the 6’4″ Fellaini in his pocket all day long, and this against a Man United who were reverting to long balls to Fellaini for large parts of the game.

Coquelin is also adept at reading the game. He will make an impressive 3 interceptions per game and nearly 4 clearances. Coquelin has focused mainly on defending and has been very successful because of his simplistic approach. He is the answer to Arsenal’s needs from a defensive view. All the aforementioned stats also are superior to those of Chelsea’s Matic, whom many deem to be the best holding mid in the league.

Now, on the other hand, Coquelin completes 83% of his passes. Let me be clear: this is not bad by any stretch, but he is not a ball-playing midfielder. Hence I emphasized he is a “defensive” midfielder. Again, to be fair, he remarkably has completed all of his take-ones – he is clearly comfortable on the ball – if he has to be. Still, when you compare his passing ability to Matic you see the difference.

Typically, center-backs have a very high passing success rate. Matic has a pass accuracy of 90%, like a good ball-playing center-back. Per game he will also average 40 forward passes to Coquelin’s 28. Matic gets on the ball a lot more and gets involved in build up and this is key to Chelsea’s success. That is the difference. He gels the defensive side more to the offensive side.

L eCoq is not as sound in this aspect. He does not get on the ball as much, and doesn’t make as many passes, that aid the build up, even though I have seen him attempt to make things happen lately. Yes, of course that is a comfortable issue to have – he can play the ball if necessary, but is disciplined and gives the ball to others who are more than capable to take care of build up. Also, at 23 he can still improve.

Let me give another comparison to reiterate the importance of a ball player. Arteta has his faults, but he is a true passer of the ball. He racks up a pass completion rate of 92% and an immaculate passing range with an average pass length of 17.6 meters to Le Coq’s 14.5. He is comfortable in possession and makes us tick (when fit). The captain is intelligent in getting the attack started and takes many, many touches, enabling us to stay in possession and a play a possession-based style of football. He opens up play from deep making about 45 forward passes per game. In all ball-playing aspects he easily beats Matic. It is not a coincidence that we concede a lot more possession in his absence. To manage this and to fit Özil into the team, we have deployed Cazorla in a deeper role this season to help retain the ball.

With all of Arteta’s offensive brilliance, he has clear weaknesses without the ball at his feet. Ideally I would like to merge the abilities of Arteta and Coquelin into a “beast” of a holding midfielder, but since I am not God, that is sadly not possible.

Coquelin may not have a high price tag or be a big name, but he is doing the job better than anyone in the league for now. I think Coquelin has covered our needs for a defensive midfielder, but we still need another option in the team with a more ball-playing approach, especially because Arteta is coming to the end of his career and Flamini will, I think, be moved on this sommer. I don’t mean to bench Le Coq, but he alone can’t hold down Arsenal for a whole season. His position demands that he tackles for a living, earning cards and he will no doubt miss games for that reason or another. We need someone who can either be paired with him or compete for a place in the first XI. This will ensure quality and stiff competition for all positions and Arsenal would look good for the next season.

But what options are there or examples of players that fit the requirements?

Many Arsenal supporters have been calling out for Schneiderlin of Southampton. Schneiderlin himself has made it clear that he wants Champions League football and is willing to move.

He is a more sound passer than Francis and also a tall and physical presence at that. He can play a more defensive role if necessary and at the same time be more of a help going forward. In comparison to Le Coq, he wins less duels by far 42%, but he usually plays higher up the pitch which encompasses being challenged more vigorously and not dishing out challenges. He does however complete 89% of his passes and makes nearly 41 forward passes per game – very close to Matic’s numbers. Not to mention he is EPL proven and could also well be paired with Coquelin. He is however worth around 25 million Euros and has a contract running until summer 2017. But again, he wants to leave if a good offer is made.

The second option I want to present to you is Geoffrey Kondogbia. Kondogbia showcased his talent when Monaco knocked out Arsenal in the Champions League this season. In the fixture at the Emirates, I believe he also scored against us. The 22 year old is not EPL proven, but has held his own in Europe. He is very talented – not to mention he has impressive stats. He wins 58.9 % of all duels, which comes very close to Coquelin, while at the same passing with an accuracy of 86%. Importantly 34 out of his 54 passes will result in forward passes – Kondogbia gets on the ball much more than Coquelin, but less than Schneiderlin.

He is worth 14 million Euros and under contract until summer 2018. A very good offer would have to be made to lure him away from Monaco.

Please feel free to critique my article and let me know who you think represents a good option in that area of the pitch!

I hope you enjoyed my analysis, I as usual am procrastinating writing a paper for Uni

Take care,


My stats regard averages per game for the season 2014/15 (barring Arteta, 2013/14) and are from

Contract, player info and player values are from

Tags Arteta Coquelin Fellaini Kondogbia Schneirderlin


  1. Guys, just a question… Would you prefer Song over Schneiderlein (forget that he left us).
    Just some comparison stats and lets evaluate wat we have got??

    1. Not at all. Song is a defensive liability and after an initial good showing at WHU is reverting to his old self and Hammers fans are seeing why Barca were happy to give him to them. He is not a patch on Schneiderlin

  2. Good article Vince!!!
    But I don’t think we can play Morgan and LeCoq together, even considering Stoke as our opponent.We have played extra cautious with both Flamini & Arteta for a few games, and I don’t think our midfield clicked..
    Also the fact that Ramsey be that box to box midfielder alongside Morg or LeCoq we have a great midfield engine with a beautiful creative flair up front…

    can Morgan play Centre Back (you know our injury woes)?

    1. I don’t understand why people think we can’t play with 2 dm’s. I really don’t,?you think we need a b2b midfielder in order to make our attacks work? With 2 dm’s it allows our fullbacks to push on and provide us width while not having to worry about being vulnerable to the counter attack. A good amount of teams play with 2 dm’s and its every attackers dream knowing there’s 2 midfielders doing nothing but defending which allows the attackers to solely focus on creating and scoring

  3. Its difficult to comment. We can buy Schidelaerine, but will nay one of him or Coqulan accept to be on the bench. But gain we need a very good back up in that postion, but neither Schlideraine nor Coq, will accpet to be a s back up to one. Coq is massive defensively and we needed that. We are not in need to have forward passer as we have enough technical players to win us the game offensively.
    Another massive headache would be next season when Jenkisnson returns, he was outsatnding for england under 21.

    1. Mate get a players name right, Google is another tab away for christ sake. Will Coquelin accept the bench? Laughable question. Not in the need for forward passers….that’s why a better baller had to be moved deeper to offset Coquelins deficiencies?

      Jenks will be sold.

      1. You are talking about Ramsey is it. He is a Box to Box player and his best position in Arsenal shirt is in deep lying midfielder. If you watch carefully , we create many goal scoring opportunity, attacking is never a problem for AFC under Wenger. The current team lacks a bit of finishing ability in forward department. This team can score against any team in the world.
        That is why I am saying the most important for us is how we defend and Coquelin’s defensive stats are better than any one the league. In terms of Forward passing, I dont think it will be an issue. Under Wenger’s guidance, I have no doubt that his passing stats will get better next season.

        Jenk will be sold , that can be true but have you seen his two assists for England under 21. He has really developed and so as Bellerine, it is not easy to decide who is better and of course will be dilemma for wenger.
        Do not forget that Jenk is Gunner fan from his child hood where as Bellarine is Barcelona youth product(Not sure this DNA thing can come up gain)

        1. Seriously….Google is RIGHT THERE.

          No I didn’t mean Ramsey I meant Cazorla, who has played deeper since Coquelin has been put into the team – because Coquelin doesn’t have the ability to START attacks and transition the play.

          I suggest you watch more closely how Arsenal play their attacking game. 90% of our attacks begin at the feet of the DM. Regarding BELLERIN and Jenks, I think it’s quite clear who Wenger prefers don’t you think? One is on loan while the other has been our first choice RB for 70% of the season.

          1. Slow down there bellerin is only playing cause of debuchy’s freak injury ravaged season. Chambers was brought in to be 2nd choice RB but bellerin got an opportunity and grabbed it with both hands that has nothing to do with jenks being on lone.

            And you do realize we played SANTI as the cm because EVERYONE else was injured right? Nothing to do with coquelin not being a pirlo type passer like you expect him to be for some reason

            1. The circumstances of how he became first choice RB are pretty redundant. Was Jenks here to lay claim? No he was loaned out. Was Bellerin? Yes.
              Why…because Wenger obviously rates him ahead of Jenks, or do you think he loaned out whom he considered the better player?

              Flamini was available for a good chunk of that time and he opted for Santi, and since Rambo has been back fit he’s been on the bench. I don’t expect Coquelin to be like Pirlo, I expect a level of ability from our first choice DM……which is why I don’t see Coquelin being first choice come the summer.

  4. Le Coq has been the surprise package for us this year. A young guy (probably on his way out) when he took his chance big time, and has been a big reason for our excellent run of results.
    We still need an additional quality DM – whether Scheiderlin or Kondogbia – a) for rotation b) to help Le Coq develop to next level and c) so that we can compete more effectively against the bigger teams when we will need 2 DMs for away games
    COYG and well done Francis

  5. U mite be rite with ur stat, but stat doesn’t say it all, as evident by flamini completing 91% of his passes this season, good for the eyes rite, but he has made several errors with 2 of them leading to goals.

    Again, we must take note that le coq has played majorly with santi in d box to box role which will reduce his stay on the ball.

    Again since his introduction into d team, our tactics as changed and its more of soakin pressure wch makes in very difficult to play the ball out, I will like to knw the pass completed percentage by both santi and ozil in the same period wch le coq has been on the pitch….

    Stat just doesn’t tell d full story except that we ve won 9 of our last 10games .

    1. Coquelin is poor in possession, stats tell you that but surely you can see that with your eyes? You say Santi playing b2b reduces Coquelins time on the ball, but you fail to see the tactical reason for him being moved their…..Coquelin cannot initiate our attacks, he is a one dimensional battler and we need a baller.

      1. I don’t think his job is to initiate attack, he’s main job is to win the ball back and play a simple pass to our more offensive players, and he is not bad in possession as d stat and u re suggest, and I don’t see any tactical reason behind carzola being backward order than ramsey being injured, nobody initiate our attack better than ramsey and dats d work of a box to box midfielder and not the defensive midfielder.

        I don’t see any sense in leaving ur responsibility and try to attack just like alex song in his last few seasons with us

        1. If you don’t think it’s his job to initiate attacks then apparently you don’t have much of a grasp of modern football. The DM is our quarterback, otherwise you’d be as well putting Mertesacker in there.

          He is statistically POOR compared to elite DM’s, that’s not a bloody suggestion mate. He completes 83% of his passes compared to 88-91%, and he averages 41 passes per game compared to 60+. The very notion that you equate starting an attack to “leaving your responsibility” tells me everything.

          1. You have literally no idea what your talking about coquelins job is not to be a “quarterback” he’s there to bloody defend hence a DM that’s first and foremost and he’s done an excellent job covering the back 4.
            Why does coquelin HAVE to be the guy to initiate every attack? We have excellent passers of the ball in the attacking positions and its ther job to create not Le coq. He is turning into an amazing DM and something like his passing stats that your so set on can only improve with game time

            1. If he was there to simply defend you’d put in a 5th defender. Don’t dare question my understanding of the game when your comments continue to be littered with ignorance and absolute idiocy.

              Passing stats can only improve in time?? I shouldn’t even engage with you, what kind of a comment is that? Passing is a skill, it doesn’t simply improve with game time. Have you ever played football?

              1. See even other posts think your analysis of the midfield is bad And yes I don’t think you did play, mabey in the 50s CB

              2. @ Charlie

                I know you think your supremely intelligent from your narcissistic, condescending rants you provide us with on a daily basis but you don’t think a ‘skill’ can be improved with practice? Wow just wow

                1. ‘Game time’ isn’t practice. And I simply know my football which can’t be said of someone who thinks a DM is only there to defend.

                  Hilarious analysis you always provide, littered with personal attacks because your football argument has no foundation in sense or reason. You’re quite the specimen.

      2. You talk a load of rubbish at times,look at your thumbs down no one agrees with you your like a broken record over this midfield area. CB

        1. Oh dear Luko, I can only assume you’re about 12 with the way you attribute significance to being thumbed up or down. I could say something generic and go with the status quo and get green thumbs galore….but…

          I actually have an opinion based on observation, evidence, and reason that I share. I don’t say things on here to get likes, I say things because it’s an Arsenal debate and I expect discourse.

          We’ve personally danced the coquelin dance. When he’s replaced in the summer I’ll be interested in your stance then.

  6. I want to congratulate the author for not overstating Coquelins influence as much as others have done lately. Nice to see a rounded perspective being offered.

    Coquelin is good at the dirty side of the game, but you need more than that to be considered elite – that’s a fact. He’s a good option, but for me will be replaced in the 11 come the summer with someone who has the defensive acumen AND ability in possession.

    Interesting how you coined the idea you’d love to combine Coquelin and Arteta to create this beastly DM…….that’s exactly the type we’ll be targeting this summer, and Schneiderlin fits that bill. Another player you could have compared was Gonalons who’s a a terrific ball playing DM. I think what should be clear by now is that, while Coquelin has had a positive impact on the teams stability, an elite DM would knit the midfield together perfectly.

    1. Additional note. Kondogbia is not in any way worth a paltry 14mil Euros, he was bought by Monaco for 25mil Euros!

    2. thanks! i wish id get more feedback, then i wld feel more comfortable putting out more articles.

      1. I thought you did well. The better articles on here are without bias, which is sometimes hard to do of course. You didn’t fall into the trap of waxing lyrical about Coquelin which is the general vibe right now so you deserve praise for that IMO.

        I particularly liked your analysis in seeing the DM position for its two-fold function, that made me feel like you understood the role beyond the superficial quip of “he can tackle”.

        From a critical perspective I’d say maybe offer a couple more target examples and trim the analysis a bit to make the piece a little more concise (longer articles get passed by some people). Overall good stuff, I’d encourage you to write more. Well done

      2. @admin could you incorporate a rating system that lets users rate articles we read? The comments have a thumb section, maybe the article itself could have a 10 point scale we can grade it on?

  7. Sorry if this question’s silly but doesn’t Kondogbia play a more advanced role in midfield?
    As in a Box to Box role with someone behind him?

    1. At Sevilla he played as the DM but at Monaco he has starting playing a b2b role more often but you can see he has all the qualities to make a top DM

  8. Remember when we had all the possession and we still shipped in goals? Would you like to go back to those days?I guess not. Exactly why i am confused about some commments here saying Coq is required to be more involved with attack. So if Matic has a 90% pass accuracy does that mean Coq too has to? Since January, Chelsea has dropped more points than we did, and look at that, Matic had his “ball possession” and was involved in attack, exactly how has that changed to overturn the deficit? Its the duty of the Manager to compliment each player, as long as they are doing their primary roles effectively. You complained about Song forgetting his defensive duties while at Arsenal (he wasnt even half as effective as Coq), now you are upset Coq is not attacking enough. Where would you like to see you Anchorman, at the edge of the box hoping to run behind defenders? Dont be petty, Modern footbal does not need you to be everything, the game needs you to be effective at what you do, and improve in the places you can, or trust your other players to cover you in areas you are deficient. Stop Whining.

    1. good point! all i am saying, is that we are arsenal and we like posession. with arteta moving on, it wouldn’t be half bad if we also had a more physical passer at dm

    2. How does being better in possession equal leaving his position? I honestly don’t see how you can mistake the two.

      The argument is our DM needs to be better at passing the ball, that means he needs to have the eye (and more importantly the ability) to pick out our attacking players between the line of midfield as opposed to recycling possession to CB’s and FB’s or having an attacking player come deep.

Comments are closed

Top Blog Sponsors
JustArsenal Top Ten UK Blogs