How did Wenger miss Coquelin’s great talent until now?

One of the biggest revelations for Arsenal this season was the lucky break of bringing Francis Coquelin back from his loan period at Charlton. He was understandably worried that he would just be a bench-warmer, as he has been for most of his Arsenal career, and it still took a while before Arsene Wenger became confident of playing him in the first team.

By the end of the season Le Coq became one of the first names on the teamsheet, but according to Wojciech Szczesny he has always been brilliant in the Gunners training matches. “I’ve been here with Francis for seven years and we’ve always seen amazing potential,” Szczesny said on “Every time out there on the training field he was always the best player, back in the under-18s or the reserves.

“He was something special. His desire, his workrate and his ability to make tackles and interceptions is something incredible. I was quite surprised by how late Francis made his breakthrough.

“I know it’s very difficult to come into a team like Arsenal at quite a young age but I was quite surprised by it. I was expecting him to do it much sooner. So I’m delighted for him.

“He’s made the biggest impact this season. Since he came in, we look really solid defensively. He’s not a flash player, he doesn’t like to go past people. He doesn’t get assists and he doesn’t score many goals, but the work he does for the team is incredible.”

We all know his qualities now,but what I don’t understand how one of his team-mates thought so highly of him over the years, but Wenger never thought he was actually good enough for Arsenal first team! Am I the only one that finds that strange?

Tags Coquelin Szczesny Wenger


        1. Diaby and Miyaichi have been released. Now for Flamini, Sanogo and Podolski, I think we’ve seen enough mediocrity over the past few years.

          1. I agree except……. I think anyone who was the best finisher in the league for every full season in the EPL and the youngest Euro player ever to reach 100 caps with almost 50 career international goals for the top national team in the world – this player does not fit the label of “mediocre.”

            (He is no longer needed at Arsenal under Wenger so he must go nevertheless -for his sake as well as the club’s)


    1. He never missed it to being with, he told Coquelin to focus on what he does best and loaned him out for him to learn what it is exactly he does best.

      1. exactly,Coquelin couldnt get in because Wenger has a pecking order of favorites an Coquelin was below Arteta,even tho hes been more equiped to play DM for at least a couple of years

    2. Actually, I remember Wenger in an interview saying that he knew about Coquelins excellent DM capabilities, he just wanted to give him matches at Charlton before letting him on to the first team.

      Understandably, asking me, seeing how Coquelin used to play more like a B2B-ish kind of guy – as he said himself in an other interview.

    3. Wenger knew all along about lecoqs talent just didn’t think he was ready yet..but lecoq proved him wrong and showed that he is ready.

  1. Actually the conclusion is a lie. And I can prove this with teh archive of this sorry blog. Whenever someone asked for Coquelin to be retained in the team it was thumbed down into oblivion.
    Wenger is right: when people criticize him for anything do they dare and come back saying they were wrong? Of course not. What people do (just like here) is to assume themselves the glory for something the manager did. You people talk after the things happened. I wish to hear you before. After is easy. Anyone can do that.

        1. Biased towards team that you love… hmm head scratcher. Who needs enemies when you got ya self a kick ass fan!

      1. Correct. When Wenger is criticized I stand by him. When Wenger is praised I am his critic. That’s balance right there.

        1. Dont force your self to much. According to your everyday comments you are leaning more towards the ,,i am his b*tch,, balance.

          1. No, he’s leaning more towards “this is the reality of the situation” unlike most Gooners who follow every form of nonsense the media would like them to believe

  2. Signing Cech and losing both Sheez and Martinez is a good deal….

    Cech is good enough for at least 3 years of first team football

  3. wrong question, if wenger didnt know he is talent he wouldnt sign him in first place, it was all Coq. He wanted to play more forward, now he knows which is his the best position so he can build on it !!!

    1. Rubbish,Coquelin has always been deep lying,don’t you remember Diaby saying it about 3 years ago.Stop making silly excuses an Akb’s stop thumbing up lies

  4. arteta, we know wenger prefers midfielders who can pass well and arteta is the better passer.

  5. Coquelin is one of many other mistakes Wenger has made during his time at Arsenal. Starting the season without a backup defender and without a Dm are mistakes which do cost titles. As we are seeing for the past 10 years.

    Wenger is very stubborn and changes only when has a wall behing infront of him. We need to think of our self as lucky that Arteta and Diaby ( which is normal) where injuried, bec, if not for them, we would never have called Coquelin back.

    1. Let’s not forget about the more defensive tactics brought about by AW being swayed by his players voices and not through his own proactive decision making.

      Wenger has done much wrong and I still cannot wait for a new chapter to begin, but he has improved this season in certain areas also. Let’s hope he can get it right in the Transfer Market this summer.

    2. Wenger gave Coq a chance to prove himself in basically every season he could, he does this with all of his players and its one of the things that people either love or hate about him. He has total faith and respect in each of his players/signings.

      Coq back then was not as strong as he is now, he was not so aggressive as he is now, and he was not so mature as he now. Nothing was missed by our boss in fact it was the opposite, hes the one who kept the lad as an option.

      1. He was the same as today. Go and watch some old videos.

        Same abilities as now. Agressive and very good at tackling players off the ball. Wenger was favoring even Frimpong ahead of him. And when the boy got his chance to play he did very well. And also the few times he was used he was even forced to play in the rb poz.

        Wenger is such e genius. lol

        Less bs. watch more videos to refresh your memories. Coquelin was not giving a chance at Arsenal but luck alone made sure to give it to him.

        1. I dont have to go back as i remember what the lad was like, i remember saying at the time that he is a better fullback than he is defensive midfielder.

          He used to get bullied and out strengthened by bigger and stronger opponents. He had mistakes in his game because he liked to get involved in our attacks, his passing was poor and led to counter attacks.

          The boy has matured into a strong young man and is now very careful in how he passes the ball.

          1. Wenger, a old fool like he is, was using Ramsey even in the dm role to make some room for him. Wenger even had more trust in a player like Flamini over him which speaks a lot.

      2. Oh here we go again no one must even dare to point out that AW is fallible, Le Coq has not changed so much that he is an entirely different player the Boss DID MISS IT AND IT WAS only DOWN TO THE INJURY CRISIS THAT WE FOUND HE COULD DO THE JOB, the boss missed it!!!! ITS THAT SIMPLE . I’m not one for seeing Wenger go but the truth is he has missed a number of things that he should not have and not just recently . Dare I mention the Ibrahimovich scenario?? I also think that on hindsight the whole Suarez / Higuain thing was handles very very badly and may well have ended up very differently if handled better. Wenger is top notch BUT he gets things wrong that he shouldn’t and that’s worrying, what else has he missed ? IMO the Fabregas thing was a miss as well, my concern is that he’ll miss something again this summer when we are so close and all we need is two perhaps three new additions to make us the perfect squad to challenge, already he’s sitting on his hands and the likes of Khedira and Dybala have gone to other sides where else will his prudence prove to be detrimental rather than adventagious??

        1. How did he miss it when WENGER SIGNED HIM IN THE FIRST PLACE ?! Your logic is flawed, the manager knew about Coquelin’s potential and loaned him out when he could’ve sold him straight up. He didn’t, therefore proving his faith in the player

          1. he loaned him out when we never had a proper DM,that can only be described as an afraid it is your biased logic which is flawed

    3. @Ks, and u got thumbed down. It was not becuz Wenger is wise and smart that Le_Cock got unearthed, it was just good fortune for Coquelin that the likes of Arteta wEre injured.

        1. You are the deluded one, trying to make out Coq was always as good as he is now just so it fits into your Arsene a fool for only putting him in now. Arsene should get credit when he gets it right and he was right to keep Coq around and right to keep believing in him.

          Atleast ill criticise the man even though i believe in him and respect him but you two are always trying to twist things round shoving them to make them fit some bloody agenda.

          I remember when Coq and Dench where trying to make first team, it was Dench that yous two and allot people where calling for to play more, and then ya say its only because hes French that Coq got picked, then youd be screaming for Wenger and Coqs head as things where not going great, and now look what yous are trying to say – Dench is the one who got games and Coq was always as good as he is now… somethings stay same – Wenger is blah blah. LOL

          1. Lol, have you turned into super nuts mode or what? Chill out, the Wengerit in you makes you say things which make no sense.

            There is no agenda, but things need to be said like they are. Without Artetas injruie ther would be no Coquelin. Deal with it.

    4. You are coveniently failing to mention that initially Flamini played when Arteta was injured, and remained available for all but one match thereafter where FC played. (Diaby isn’t and wasn’t part of any CDM discussion). FC played a minor role in his first 4 or 5 games coming off the bench before making his first start, against WH I think – there was none of the panic hinted out in the general hysteria on here. He was eased in. Wenger wasn’t surprised that FC did a job – he was surprised, along with just about everyone else in the football world, just how well he did it. No shame there.

      Like most situations one can spin the facts whichever way you want. To present it as a nailed on clueless Wenger howler is stretching it a little to say the least. Experimenting with a fringe player to try and provide back-up to Flamini would be seen as decent management to most neutral folk.

      1. he sees him in training everyday,so why should he be surprised?big shame for not seeing whats under your own nose

  6. Why did the manager who signed him, kept him and then put him in the first team not see his potential? Is that really the question you’re asking? Have you thought this through at all?

  7. Any player to make it to a club like arsenal at senior level must Be pretty special. You hear so many usually ex professionals because current player don’t usually talk down there team mates. Talk about how some players are fantastic in training can be the best player then for one reason or another not be able to perform to that level on the big nday. Playing in training & in the reserves the pressure is almost off. You’ve got to prove yourself but when you come in to the first team you play in front of thousands of people millions on TV and actually playing for something important with big expectation from everyone. It makes the job a lot more difficult. Being able to preform on the big day is probably make or break for a lot of young players. Coquelin had many chances you’ve and never performed up to the standard. He had a few loans and never met up to the standard. Not sure what happened maybe he could see that had he not started to perform not only would he not have made it at arsenal he might not have made it at any decent club. It was make or break time and he was on the verge of slipping into obscurity. The lads surprised everyone I certainly didn’t believe in him.

    Also people will say Wenger was lucky but for any player there’s always a element of luck at some stage in there career to get a break and the opportunities coming at the right time.

    1. Surely there are exceptions to your comment

      “Any player to make it to a club like arsenal at senior level must Be pretty special.”

      Or do you mean ‘Special’ in a different context?

  8. I disagree with this article. Wenger saw the potential in Coquelin and thats why he kept on sending him on loan instead of giving up on him. It is the same Wenger who recalled him from his Charlton loan and it is indeed the same Wenger who is playing him right now. Credit should go to the player for realising where he performs best at and credit should also go to Wenger for keeping faith in Coq when most of us fans had already given up on him.

    1. den chills
      I agree AW saw something in the boy and as AlanFrank said its a scary stage on that pitch what ever hapened wether he was coached or found a bigger pair of balls the boy become a man overnight and his woted by us as the second best Arsenal player this season, may he get better and better injury free becouse it looks like AW won’t buy another DM

  9. Wenger sees the potential in players. If there is high potential he signs them. Sometimes they meet that potential sometimes they don’t. It’s a gamble but Wenger is one of the best at this.

    We have Hayden, Crowley, Zelalem, Bielik, Akpom and others. Hopefully, they will turn out top players too. But not all our youngsters will make it.

    I don’t see potential in Sanogo though lol.

  10. To me the top players of the season (in no particular order) were Alexis, Coquelin, Cazorla, Ospina and Bellerin/Monreal

    In second half of season Giroud, Ozil, Koscielny, Ramsey were all excellent having come back from injury

    Coquelin and Bellerin were the wonderful surprises of the season

    1. Yea and they saved Arsenal at least 50 million signing on fee for new players SHLING SHLING the sound of money staying in the bank

  11. fate and change in approach to his game has made le coq what he is today.nobody in the epl can claim to have the anticipation of a loose pass like this guy…the interceptions are phenomenal and he has polished his tackling to a point where he will tackle cleanly and therefore avoid punishments.i cant imagine what would have happened at etihad and old trafford without le coq.

  12. dis yr has 2 be 4 gnabry… think he can be awsum in de coming yrs… plus wat happened zelalem he was nowhere near first team dis yr!!!

    1. I think a loan deal to a EPL team would be good. Gnabry and Toral need a loan move to a BPL team next season. After one year time they can come in and replace Rosicky and Arteta or even a wide role.

  13. Im really disappointed Flamini is not released. If Flamini and Arteta stays I cant see Wenger signing a DM. Lets focus on shifting deadwoods like Podolski, Sanogoal, Campbell, Flamini and

  14. One more question we need to ask is.

    What happens if Coquelin gets injured?

    We have Wilshere, Arteta, Flamini, Diaby, Chambers and Bielik.
    Wilshere is more b2b and isn’t great defensively
    Arteta and Flamini have lost quite a bit and can’t play consistently for long periods
    Diaby is quality but always injured
    Chambers and Bielik are inexperienced at DM

    Honestly, we should release Flamini
    Release Diaby or keep him on pay as you play contract
    Keep Arteta for one more season or release
    Loan Bielik for more experience

    Sign Kondogbia, Schneiderlin, Krychowiak, Bender, Carvalho, Gustavo Or Alternatively, Vidal, Gundogan, Schweinsteiger or Wanayama

      1. Flamini has 1 year remaining,i fear Arteta has been given an extension,an clearly Rosicky wants to play games

    1. Simple to answer your question. Arsenal need to get a DM – end of story. You are right to worry however. Wenger might just be counting on Arteta and Beilik as backups.

  15. How do you conclude he missed it? didn’t he recall Coquelin? Didn’t he entrust him with the role? Perhaps the expectations he expressed weren’t high…but why put additional pressure? Granted I think he felt it was a risky move and he was forced to make the move earlier than he wanted to. But how do you know that he didn’t have the belief Coquelin could do the job?

    And who is to say others won’t have similar stellar seasons next year? is it cast in concrete that Sanogo won’t improve, or Welbeck, or Ox, or Jack, or OG12, or any of the others? Why is the breakthrough year seen as an anomaly and not a future trend?

    1. Good point – Wenger DID recall him in mid-season and few fans likely were thrilled about it.

      I think the suggestion that Ox is in the same category and “needs to improve” is insulting.
      Ox was outstanding this season and at one point was the only Gunner to have played in every game – then injury stopped him, not quality or form.

      1. I am a big Ox fan but he is probably the only player we have who gets a solitary goal and one assist in 23 PL appearances and be tagged “outstanding”. Rosicky’s end product not much better. Actually now I think about it Wilshere as well. 12 league goals between the 3 of them in last 2 seasons.

        They get an easy ride when you think of the c**p heaped on the likes of Ozil, Walcott and Ramsey.

    2. Wenger recalled Coquelin because all Wenger’s favourite Diaby and Arteta were injured. Flamini was also performing poorly. Wenger should not be given much credit to be fair. Wenger kept on picking Arteta at CDM despite him performing poorly all season. It looks like Wenger doesnt like
      defensive midfielder.

      1. It is true – Wenger has not put much emphasis in either DM or more traditional wing play. He prefers to use CAMs all over the pitch like interchangeable parts.

        But I think Wenger should be given some credit for making adjustments this season.

        Seriously – do you believe that the Wenger of the past few seasons would have recalled Coq, or stayed with Bellerin after Debuchy was even partially fit, or replaced Gibbs with Monreal, or adjusted the tactics to become more defensive when needed?? Not likely. He has made some adjustments FINALLY.

  16. I don’t know – how did EVERYONE miss Coq’s talent until now??

    Many very good players have stories about some club that dumped them claiming that player “would never make it.”

    Mert was one of those dumped from the club of his youth – told he was too slow. Instead he had a great club career and played many years for Germany. This “too slow” player was 2nd in the voting for Arsenal player of the year last season behind Ramsey.

    It just happens that way sometimes. The good news: Wenger caught in time to keep him with Arsenal.

  17. It really irks me a lot how people put Coquelin’s emergence this season down to ‘luck’ a lot of the time and now it’s onto ‘why didn’t he see it sooner?’
    No matter what happens people are going to knock Wenger despite the fact that we clearly now have a classy player who has spent most of his development under Wenger….

    1. It is “fortunate” that Wenger recalled him when he did – there were some injuries and Flamini failed to impress so Wenger made the move – the timing was right – there is some “luck” to the timing of that.

      For Coq, it was likely talent, hard work and a never-say-die attitude that produced the results.

      1. Flamini may have failed to impress but MF did carry on playing for quite a few games after FC was recalled with FC on the bench. MF started against N’castle, L’Pool, QPR and WH after FC returned – so wasn’t quite the panic that some like to portray.

    2. Wenger didnt give him fair run in the team. I saw him performing well 4 years ago then after few games he was forced to play at full back then when our full back was back he was dropped to the bench. Then after one year he played well again got injured unfortunately then lost his place.
      The last two seasons he hardly played any games despite the fact we had no DM available.

      1. That is a fair point. Maybe he did not get a good chance at 1st team. I often feel that way about players but then again I don’t see them all week in training so it is sometimes difficult to judge every case from the outside.

        But you are right that Wenger often puts so much trust in his “favorite” players that others don’t get much of a chance. I could give you a long list of names and I would probably be right about some and wrong about others.

        1. Can you list his “favourite” players for me? I hear this all the time and can’t quite connect with the idea. And doesn’t help when people make it sound like some hate crime; discriminatory management with poor victims galore.

  18. Surely if we have 70 m to spend we can buy 3 quality players.
    GK- Cech 10 m
    CDM- Krychowiak 20 m
    ST- Martinez/Lacazette 30-35 m

    1. I don’t know if it will be those players but the positions look good and 3 players is probably about right and about as much as you could expect from Wenger (unless a key player departs – Monreal for example).

      1. What amazes me is that Wenger gives 5 year contract to injury prone Diaby and 3 year to old Flamini but doesnt offer new contract to a Monreal who has been our best defender this season.

  19. Why was Flamini not released ? When does his contract expire ? Why is Wenger giving lengthy contracts to old and injury prone players ?

  20. Anyone who says Wenger wasn’t luck when he stumbled on Le Coq this season, needs to check history. Yes Wenger signed Coq, but he himself admitted that Le Coq was on his way out the door this year. There were only two occasions prior to this season that Wenger utilized him in the CDM position, his other appearances was either left or right back. Coq was never in Wenger’s plan for 2014-2015, in fact Wenger told Coq “you need to go somewhere where you can play”. God bless the timely injury to Wilshere and Arteta, without their pain I’m sorry but we would not have finished the season where we did, why? simply because the solution that most pundits and fans alike were calling for, for over 3 season was stumbled upon, yes Le Coq was stumbled on and not a master stroke by Wenger. We can only live in the what if’s now, but what if Wenger had signed a true defensive midfielder in the last transfer window, what if Arteta didn’t re-inhure his calf and Wilshere and Ramsey didn’t suffer the injury bug.

  21. You only have to have read the things Coq and Wenger have said this year to understand what happened and the conclusion of this article to be wrong.

    Firstly – Wenger never missed the talent of Coq. He was called up into the first team 3 years ago and has played in each season, being tested in various positions and given the nod by Wenger. Coq had chances to shine and always came out not that great. Wenger stuck by him despite this (and fans calling him deadwood) so the idea he missed his talent is the complete opposite to the truth – Wenger had faith in the talent he saw so perserved with the player.

    Secondly – Coq has admitted that for a long time he did not know where he was best suited to playing. At lower levels he had found it easy to be both the destroyer and the ball player. When stepping up he found it hard to concentrate on his defensive game, despite this being where his strengths lie. He had conversations with Wenger about exactly this, with Wenger identifying his strengths and asking him to focus on utilising these while developing other aspects. This was a specific goal of his loan spells and until he found his niche, his loan spells were unimpressive.

    Thirdly – Wenger recalled Coquelin this season from his loan spell and threw him onto the pitch. At the time Flamini was fit and we had other options. It was also just moving into the January market and he could have bought a player if he felt we were lacking – the money was there and he went after a CB instead. The truth is, Coq had found his niche, the scouting team had spotted this and Wenger put faith in the talent the player had. This is why he only trained a week with Arsenal before stepping in ABOVE Flamini into the starting line up against West Ham. His success was instant and neither coach nor player looked back.

    Fourthly – Coq still has issues to his game. His passing, movement and dynamism all lack the quality of other members of the team. He has some attacking prowess but not enough to become part of the attack proper. There is a reason he has struggled in recent games. The quality of our attacking line is paving over the fact we are sacrificing (for the most part) a versatile position for an almost purely defensive one. Before Coq found that groove of being almost purely defensive, he was not good enough to be in the Arsenal 11 – his game changed, Wenger saw that and thus used it.

    Basically – your conclusion is the opposite of the truth. Wenger saw his potential which is why we now have a Coq. If we had a different manager, we might still be coqless. Or we might have Schneiderlin or Kondogbia or someone already – who knows! The fact is, you can’t blame Wenger for not seeing it because it’s the one thing you can say he 100% definitely did see!

    1. FFFanatic – Good read – balanced and concise. Hopefully some on here are listening to what you say but quite a few won’t hear a thing.

      One minor correction, I pointed out elsewhere that there was little panic with the whole FC assimilation process. Flamini continued to start for 4 matches after FC was recalled. As you say FC’s first start was against WH but after double checking he actually started WITH MF not ahead of him. I must admit I couldn’t recall both FC and MF being on the field at the same time.

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