On Arsenal legend´s birthday, Henry talks up ‘new Vieira’

There have been various players that Arsene Wenger has turned to in an attempt to fill the very large gap left in the Arsenal side when our midfield star and captain Patrick Vieira left the club for Serie A and Juventus after scoring the penalty that handed the Gunners the last trophy that we were to celebrate for nine long years.

The Gunners have had other problems, no doubt, but the general failure of Arsenal players from Abou Diaby to Alex Song, Denilson to Arteta and many more to really replace the Frenchman has been a big reason for our struggles and a major talking point among us Arsenal fans.

So in the past when the subject of Vieira has come up, like today when our former captain turns 39-years old, it has usually been the signal for complaints and criticism of Wenger and the players that have been used in central midfield. Today, though, I think it is fitting that Squawka.com have run an article in which another former Gunners great Thierry Henry talks up the latest defensive midfielder Francis Coquelin.

Henry has been fulsome in his praise of the young Frenchman, explaining how he has brought the balance back to a side that was often very creative but too soft in the centre. And just as Vieira did, Henry feels that Coquelin has a very positive impact on the players around him.

He said, “One of the keys for me this year was how [Francis] Coquelin balanced the midfield. And he didn’t cost Arsenal anything.

“As soon as Francis came in the team, Santi Cazorla played way better, Alexis Sanchez is the x-factor, Olivier Giroud is scoring goals.

“You don’t win titles only because you spend money. You need to have the right balance in the team and consistency. Money doesn’t always buy you titles.”

So happy birthday Patrick and keep going Coquelin because you may just be the man to finally fill the boots of the great man.

Tags Coquelin Wenger


  1. I learn new word: serendipidy, I hope now we purchase DM not to replace but challenge COQeulin!!!

    1. Buying someone better IS challenging Coquelin. What I don’t want is us to buy a player inferior to “protect” what we have (as many have commented) cos you don’t improve doing that.

      Coquelin will keep his place no matter who is bought, he earned the right to. But he should have someone top drawer breathing down his neck and he’ll either rise to that or the new recruit will take his place. That’s what Arsenal have always had in their success.

  2. coquelin is the sole reason wenger wont spend 30 mill on kondogbia an schneiderlin…

    francis should be proud hes really showed the fifa 15 managers, money isnt always the answer

        1. @inapropriatetelletubbie,
          Yes and so is sitting on your hands and not signing the positions we desperately need like Wenger has been doing for the 4 seasons.
          And to contradict you, we did not win nothing for 9 years until we spent 42 million on Mesut Ozil.
          Spending money on quality players is not a given but there are higher chances to win major trophies like the EPL and CL when you spend rather than sitting on your hands and purchasing the same jacket every season that you don’t know how to zip up.

          1. I’m not disagreeing, I’m just saying if you have money you don’t blow it all at once. Yes i am well aware that before Wenger spent we hadn’t achieved anything of note till Wenger spent , but if you Look at Liverpool last season and Manchester City when they first got their money, when you have a problem you don’t throw money at it thinking, thats that problem solved. I remember crapping myself when City signed Robinho, Jo, De Jong, Shay Given all in the same season , How fruitful did they prove. Liverpool Last year Emre Can, Lallana, Lovren, Markovic, Balotelli there are more need i remind you the spent 120Million on players. What Wenger does is patiently observe the situation before spending, I’m grateful that he doesn’t listen to us all of the time, Remember when we were all crying out for Ganso a couple of seasons ago???? Yh he was a dud…. Looking at him play football now is like watching a baby giraffe trying to stand up straight. he would have cost us £30 million. So all im saying is relax, dont get yourself in a frenzy, we will spend the only question is who has the quality????

          2. Isn’t the whole debate about the pace of the change required. Even the densest fan knows with almost absolute certainty that Wenger isn’t going to rip up the 1st X1 team sheet and spend a couple of hundred million on “4/5 world class players” to replace the spine of the team. So why bang on about it – ain’t gonna happen.
            Ozil, Alexis and Cech(?) in 22 months since the spending gloves were taken off is clearly Wenger’s best assessment as to the optimum rate of change. Whether we agree or not is a moot point but he has been crystal clear on this point many times before – 1 or 2 new players at a time is do-able – anymore and you are playing the lottery.

            1. Honestly @jonestown1 thats the point i was making, i’d rather spend slowly and build a team, figure out what goes where than spend 150 million in one season only to go Sh&t at the end of the season. Even though we are sponsored by Fly Emirates don’t make the mistake by assuming we have Arab Money, if we ever screwed up in a transfer window, we wont bounce back that quick..

    1. “You don’t win titles only because you spend money. You need to have the right balance in the team and consistency. Money doesn’t always buy you titles.” Thierry Henry 22/6/15.

      I must say Thierry is throwing a few curve balls with his recent punditry. A month ago it was the “new spine” theory with 4 or 5 players new players needed. The above comment together with “Alexis is the only superstar” we need is all a bit confusing.

      1. He is trying to back track because he hurt Giroud’s feelings and Giroud went on a bitchfest about how it hurt him rather than using it to pump himself up. I would do the same thing that Henry did. But I think we all know what he actually thinks and he is right. We need 4 high quality players.

        1. You could be right k-ool – but if true that would confirm Thierry as an appallingly bad pundit. Backtracking and fudging it because he hurt someone’s feelings – you really think that is someone whose opinion we should trust and hang on his every word? Love King Henry but doesn’t look good.

    2. I take exception the writer’s characterization of Alex Song as a “failure.” Just not true at all.

    3. Premature assessment given so long to go in the window, we could yet spend X amount on a new DM. I think Coquelins emergence has simply meant Wenger can bargain and negotiate more ruthlessly than he anticipated, so he’s likely got his Economics hat on and is looking for THE right deal in his eyes.

      Plus the profile of player may have changed with Coquelin being so defensively lopsided, maybe we’re after a more balanced player with less defensive potential like Imbula etc. Long ways to go, but wouldn’t sit and say we won’t buy X because of Coq. Time will tell.

    1. He also needs to have competition to improve and achieve his best. At the moment he doesnt have any, Arteta is too old, Biyelik is too young, and Flamini is too bad.

    1. It has a very good chance of happening!
      After all he is a DM whose role it is to put himself about and his foot in.

      We need another DM simples and it isn’t Arteta or Flamini.

      1. There seems to be a divide amongst the supporters regarding the FC situation. A significant proportion are happy for him to retain his place and go again next season with maybe a just a deputy bought in. Another section of fans want someone “better” bought in to replace him in the 1st X1 and “provide some competition”.

        Irrespective of what I want, I think the writing is on the wall here – AW will continue with FC and MA will deputise. I think either FC stays and is the preferred No.1 or someone better (on paper at least) is brought in and FC leaves – don’t see him sticking around to make up the numbers if his best isn’t deemed good enough. I see you think we can do better than MA as a deputy/stand-in and whilst I understand that I admit I find it difficult to pin-point who that player would be. Someone better than MA and just below FC, someone we could rely on to be available and do a job if called upon but equally someone who could deal with potentially being on the bench all season. Generally speaking that would ordinarily be either an up and coming young player with potential or an experienced old-hand who is not going anywhere.
        Arteta fits the latter profile – who do you have in mind for this stand-in?

        1. I am not designating a potential DM signing as a stand-in, but you have.

          I am looking at it from a perspective of strength in depth where the ‘other’ DM is equal in capability to FC if not better. Squad rotation is key for all positions but especially for the tireless DM. There would also be times against stronger/more attacking sides where perhaps employing the two side by side would be an option to nullify the opposition and heavily protect the defence from a potent attacking force (think Barca).

          Mikel/Flamini pre FCs return weren’t really up to the job IMO and as they get older their stamina, power and recovery will diminish (if it hasn’t already).

          We need to be competitive on the field against all comers so a little healthy competition between comparable players is most welcome in my book.

          You play well and do your job, you play again in the next match unless strategy or necessity through tiredness dictates a different approach. If players need 1st team assurances and can’t handle the competition then they can go elsewhere to where competition isn’t the No1 keyword as it is with the professional sport of football.

          My non stand-in choice, as you ask would be Morgan. Offers more creatively speaking than Coq IMO and that’s not to put him down in that respect as he can play nice, but I think he could offer us something different.

          Young, proven and ready to step up with a big club where he can compete for top trophies and his place in the team. Le Coq are any other player should be happy to do the same. If our club who can now afford to compete for a players signature want to ensure we don’t come up short again and to truly compete then I think they would think the same.

          I fear this isn’t the case but I would like to be proven wrong.

          1. All fair enough – but that is not the reality is it? FC has just signed a new long-term contract – all the signs indicate Wenger has been convinced by his performances. MS could go to half a dozen top clubs where he would be first choice CDM. Whilst the fans would love to have the reassuring MS/FC choice at CDM both will demand 1st team football. Why do you think either of them will arse polish the bench for the other one for the greater good of AFC? Chelsea’s stand-in CDM is inferior to both the above – and he is now looking to move on. Man City can pay daft money for a bog-standard Fernando to sit around.

            So my point was, the reality looks as if FC is staying as first choice and yes we do need back-up. If Arteta isn’t good enough then who will that player be – because common sense says it won’t be MS.

            1. If you want to talk realities Francis Coquelin is a young player at Arsenal who has had 5 good months of football – so how he could justify demanding anything is complete nonsense.

              Oxlade-Chamberlain is 2nd fiddle to Theo or vice-versa, and Welbz is 2nd to Alexis so why aren’t any of those demanding this transfer away from the club you think Coquelin would inevitably do?

              Coquelin has plenty to polish in his game and the idea he wouldn’t be happy to hit the bench should someone better be bought is nonsense….one glance at the bench and he’ll see far better players than himself who have achieved a lot more in the game to date than he has.

              1. At some point we need to ditch this running background commentary about him being young, only half a season, unpolished etc and just accept what we have seen across his 30 appearances last season. You either rate what he did or you don’t. How he got there, what preceded it, his loan spells and previous under-achievement – all history now and irrelevant. Coming in mid-season in the circumstances he did must have been very difficult – you would have to assume with the confidence he has gained and with a full pre-season now to recharge and work on his game that he will be better next season. It is not a position or role that lends itself to first season luck, or over-achieving because the opposition haven’t had chance to suss you out yet – it is what it is.

                I didn’t suggest he would be justified. But then again I think plenty of players are unjustified in their actions/demands but it doesn’t stop them. Walcott for instance. I sense some double standards here – you have been championing Raheem Sterling for some time now – his demands and justification exist in his mind only. FC was arguably more important to our season last year than anything RS contributed to L’Pool’s campaign. FC at least earned the right to turn round to AW and say “that is what I can do and I think I will only get better – do you want to back me or not”? If Wenger thinks like you and others that he is not up to it why would he want to hang around? If on the other hand he thinks he can cut it at top level why would you hand him a new long term deal then and then bench him – a place from where he cannot improve or develop.

                And not quite the same for Ox/Theo/Alexis/Welbz – all of them play or have played in at least 2/3 different positions in a very fluid and ever changing front 3 and Ox has filled in centrally in MF as well – MS and FC fighting over one spot.

                Bottom line is that at some point AW will have to decide whether FC is good enough or not, suck it up and either stick with him or give him the bad news and replace him.

                Anyhow, rather than dwell on what you would like to happen, where would your money be if you had to predict what will actually happen? Do you really see MS coming in, MA moved on and FC benched for the forseeable future with a few cup outings to keep him active?

                1. Hold on, why do we need to ditch valid circumstance when it’s an Arsenal player in question? Who makes unwavering judgements on a players value and worth to the future based on 5 months of football at any club? It’s ludicrous to do so, especially at a club like Arsenal. Countless players have been labelled one-season wonders, yet Coquelin does well for half a season and somehow it’s a guarantee he will be a major player moving forward.

                  Why Sterling is at all relevant is beyond me. Is he concerned with competition at Liverpool or is he wanting to step up a level and compete among the very best?……he’s arguably doing the exact opposite in seeking to be part of a team where his place WON’T be guaranteed.

                  Here’s a thought….what if Coquelin isn’t actually as good as the Arsenal fan base majority would have you believe (I know, heresy)? Maybe Wenger, as many fans believe, feels Coqulin needs an established DM to keep him honest and help him develop. For me this is the reality, and someone like Schneiderlin (who’s shown quality/consistency for a number of seasons, and established himself on the international scene) would be a good candidate to help Coquelin and Arsenal achieve their goals.

  3. If Le Coq finally fit that hole in midfield for good, the football world will realise how football and its players can be unpredictable but interesting.

  4. ef arsenal_win_pl_or_cl():
    base = [current_players]
    imprv = [KEEPER, DM, STRIKER ]
    manager = ‘same old Wenger’
    major_trophy = []
    mgnt = ”

    for x in imprv:
    if x in base:
    print(‘High Chance of winning’)
    for x in imprv:
    x not in base:
    if mgnt == manager:
    print(“Number four, No domestic trophy, Huge Dissapointment”)

          1. Noo..i like wenger very much and i believe we will win the PL or CL next season and i also believe that wenger who has been i football for more than 30ys knows better so he knows our weaknesses and will work on them…
            If you look at the code well without looking at the obvious syntax errors, it fully supports a reformed wenger

  5. Would like to see some cover for him, Not a replacement. Having played half a season still managed to rank amongst the best CDM’S in the world, if that is just a glimpse of what he can do, I’d like to know what he is really capable of next season, not sitting on the bench or sent out on loan again.

  6. Alright, I think its time to accept that we don’t need another DM, we don’t need another CB and we definitely don’t need a striker.
    I think we should be happy with what we have and 4th place next season.
    If you are happy with having Giroud and Mertersacker as regular first team starters (so no urgency in addressing those positions) and not having another top notch DM to compete with Coquelin like the teams we are supposed to be competing with domestically (Chelsea, Man City, Man City) have and Europe (Barca, Real Madrid, Bayern, PSG, Juve and the 3 english teams as mentioned)…then you should also be happy with 4th place and an FA cup or league cup.
    That’s the reality without any sort of stupid, dreamy and infeasible hope. If there are fans here and I know there are that think our team is super fantastic and that Giroud, Mertersacker and the likes are superb and go out of their way to find meaningless stats (like how someone was trying to compare Giroud and Benzema…lmao) that prove so rather than than the actual quality of the player from what they have seen on the pitch e.g Giroud against Monaco and countless other games over the past 3 seasons where he delivered such magnificent, unquestionable performances….then I agree with these fans. Believe in whatever you want, but when it comes to expectations…get freaking real.
    We are not winning the EPL or CL with Giroud and Mertersacker as starters. I said this last season, the season before last and I am saying it again. And I don’t give a rat’s bum about what anyone feels about that. There are people who will read this and get the point right away because they know and they feel my pain. Thank you to those people.

    1. @Kool, I agree with you brother. Giroud and Mert are not EPL winner material. They are fantastic subs, that can come in to close out games or try to win them with a second striker. They can also start 10-15 games a year due to injuries and cups etc.. but to have Giroud as the main striker of Arsenal and Mert as one of the two starting CBs is not ok.
      Giroud will miss sitters that will cost us games and Mert will be too slow to stop pacey forwards and that will cost us points as well.
      I dont know how good Gabriel is, I hope he is good enough to wrestle that starting spot from Mert as it looks like we are not after a CB this window.
      And for Striker, we simply need one. Theo is a ? at that position.

    2. Honestly, I just don’t think Mertesacker is as bad as people make him out to be. But would bet good money Gabriel is going to take his spot this season anyways. Striker is more important than CB this summer for me. We cannot win EPL with Giroud being our #1, very simple.

  7. hey guys. i was a regular comment reader on these site before i landed my job at the emirates and upon seeing how people on here still tear each other apart when it comes to transfers, i have decided to create an account and shed some light on what little i know though its completely illegal .
    first is the striker situation:
    i can guarantee you guys that the only striker that the boss wishes to buy is benzema if the chance arises of which there is some chance that it will towards the end of the transfer period.
    if it doesn’t go through, then the boss is happy to use the strikers available now.
    second the dm position:
    The only dm player that the club wants is a player that can play concurrently with coquelin based on form. its true that the manager has tried a few including kondogbia who went to inter. I understand that the boss could not guarantee him first place and so with schneiderlin who also wants first team football. There was also talk of kisy form Swansea but the management so that as a negative influence on the club though if the options available don’t push through, then the club might consider him.
    The boss also wants to make jack, carzola, and Aaron happy next season so the midfielder you are all expecting might not come through.
    Another point to know is that the boss does not like traditional DM like wanyama nowadays.
    center back situation:
    According to a friend who is deeper in transfer realm than me, one of our CB is injured and might face surgery and so the boss is looking to add a high quality CB. Another reason is that he really wants to push far for the CL next season.
    Ospina is on his way. We are sad really but it is in his best interest.
    Petr Cech is like done though chelsea are holding as they want something in return of which i have heard that they want first option on AOC should the club decide to sell in future.

    Thats all. hope i have clarifed some things…Nice time

  8. I agree. Costa, Cahill, Terry were some of the key players for Chelsea

    Actually, Chelsea is strong almost everywhere
    GK – Courtois 5/5
    CD: Terry, Cahill, Zouma 5/5
    full backs: Luis, Azpilequeta, Ivanovic, etc 5/5
    DM: Matic 5/5
    b2b: Ramires 4/5
    Cam: Fabregas/Oscar 5/5
    wings: Hazard, Willian, Cuadrado 4/5
    CF: Costa 5/5, Remy 4/5

    We need to just strengthen a few areas.
    We hopefully have had a good start with Cech by getting a world class gk (hopefully)
    GK: Cech 5/5
    CD: Koscielny (5/5), Mertsacker/Gabriel/Chambers 3/5
    full backs: Debuchy/Bellerin, monreal/Gibbs 4/5
    DM: Coquelin 4/5
    B2B: Ramsey/Cazorla: 5/5
    CAM: Ozil/Cazorla: 5/5
    Wings: Alexis, Walcott/Oxlade 4/5
    CF: Giroud 4/5 Welbeck: 2/5

    So, it’s obvious where our weak points are

    We need:
    Top CF
    Another quality DM (Coquelin could get injured)

    To make us solid in defense it would be nice to have another top CD, but unlikely because we have Koscielny, Mertsacker, Gabriel, Chambers

    1. Very Funny Fred because I had just written this…
      I want to rate the quality we have in each position in our team.
      10 One of the best in the world
      9 World Class
      8 Almost World Class
      7 Very good
      6 Good
      5 Mediocre
      4 Bad
      + means there is more to come from that player

      GK Cech 1o Scez 6+

      RB Debuchy 7 Bellerin 6+

      LB Monreal 7 Gibbs 6+

      CB Koscielny 9 Per 6 Gabriel 6+ Chambers 6+

      DM Coquelin 7+ Arteta 5 Flamini 4

      CM Ramsey 8+ Wilshire 7+

      AM Ozil 9+ Cazorla 8

      RW Theo 7+ Ox 7+

      LW Sanchez 9+ Welbeck 6+

      ST Giroud 6

      It seems to me that a Striker is desperately needed to bring up the level on that area.
      A good DM that can actually challenge Coquelin would also be important for the next season

      I don’t know if you agree or not with this assessment and would rate players differently but whatever your ratings might be it looks like we are one maybe two players away from having a team that can challenge for the title.

      1. JimB – I know definitions for world class are notoriously difficult and confusing but aren’t your 9 and 10 designations pretty much one and the same?

        And I am not necessarily disagreeing with your ratings – but just out of interest who to your mind are the “one of the best in the world” players who play in the same positions you would swap for Alexis and Ozil. I know the bias may be talking here but I have serious doubts whether I would be happy to swap anyone for Alexis in the wide left slot. Bale? Ribery? Hazard? Neymar? All offer something different and are better in various aspects, but as a complete package I think I’d stick with AS.

    2. Don’t quite agree with all of those. Chelsea have a very strong team but they aren’t that good…

      On the wings, I think Hazard is top quality, but Willian and Cuadrado aren’t world beaters. Oscar isn’t on the same level as the other top attacking midfielders in the league ie Cazorla, Özil and David Silva. Fabregas is and Matic are a solid pair in the centre of midfield, but Ramires is average, he’s just a good runner.

      Defensively, neither Cahill or Zouma have been good enough alongside Terry to keep their spot, and Ivanovic is physical but not a natural fullback. Chelsea conceded 32 goals this season. That’s only 4 goals less than us, and think of all the defensive problems we’ve had this season – Koscielny out for a while, Monreal or Chambers at CB, no defensive midfielder for half a season. A poor season from Szczesny too. To be honest, I would’ve expected better from Chelsea’s defence, but clearly they aren’t as strong as we all think.

      1. I don’t mind admitting I have some Chelski mates and I regularly check in as a visitor on a few of their forums – especially when Arsenal are being discussed on there. I can’t vouch for every Chelski fan but there are definitely significant parts of the fan base who are not overly in love with Cahill, Ramires and Willian. They are praying Courtois doesn’t get injured and find themselves relying on a Rob Green or similar. They desperately would like to see better right sided attacking options – hence many of them were gagging for a Walcott or Ox when there was a suggestion that a HG Arsenal player may make up part of the Cech deal. They also have no proper left-sided attacking options should EH get injured. They are embarrassed with Cuadrado, can’t understand why Schurrle isn’t still around and are beginning to regret letting de Bruyne go.

        It is reassuring to see other fans moaning about their players – not just us.

    3. Greatly exaggerated imo. No set of squad CBs can have a 5/5 maximum score with Cahill and Zouma in their ranks. One OK/half-decent, another unproven. Ramires 4/5 – surely not, come on? Oscar 5/5??????? Cuadrado should not be on any list purporting to show off Chelsea’s squad strength.

  9. You don’t become a great football club by throwing money about just ask Blackburn. If you ask me the only thing we need to win the UCL. With that you get more sponsorship and attract the best players. Then you will see us go from strength to strength. GOYG win it next season please.

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