Why Coquelin Is Key for Arsenal Against Barcelona

Just over a year ago, Arsenal visted the Etihad stadium to face Manchester City in a hugely important Premier League game and were in need of an excellent defensive performance to keep out the star-studded City attack. While the Gunners produced a collective effort to keep a clean sheet, one player who really stood out from the rest was Francis Coquelin.

Having been recently recalled from a loan spell in the Championship as a result of the Gunners’ depleted midfield, the Frenchman came in and made an instant impact enroute to establishing himself as a regular in Arsene Wenger’s starting eleven. On the night, Coquelin completely bossed the midfield and countered the Citizens’ flair with his high work-rate and robust defensive play.

With Arsenal going into the crunch Champions League game against Barcelona at the Emirates, the Gunners will need exactly that kind of performance from the combative midfielder in order to contain the Catalan attack. Simply put, Coquelin will have the job of trying to stop the European champions playing from midfield.

An advantage for the Gunners is that the Barcelona midfield will not be used to playing against a midfielder like Coquelin on a weekly basis. The Spanish game is not nearly as physical as it is in England and with Arsenal having one of the most combative players in the Premier League in Coquelin, it may well give Arsenal a small edge.

Without a shadow of a doubt, Mesut Ozil has the ability to unlock any defence in the world, and Barcelona are no exception. The challenge for Arsenal will be in trying to defend against the Spanish club’s attacking play and while that task applies to the team as a unit, it is perhaps Le Coq who holds the key to a solid defensive performance.



  1. Every player is key…..We need 150% from every player on the pitch for both home and away games

    1. you are right, but when we have majority of the players that have ability of giving 60% as their all, then we are doomed to fail.

  2. AW needs to play our new lad with FQ and kind of park 2 busses coz this one will be a bitch. Playing against LM is fine but you have that cheet Mr teeth me biter yep LS. He will wind our players up big time. Part of me thinks this will be a dart score? Then Man U weekend God help us

    1. Thats not how you beat barca. Almost every team they face parks the bus, so they (barca) know how to unpark the bus…Thats their strength. however, their defensive aspect of the game has remained untested most of the time considering that la liga teams always adopt the defensive tactics rather than offensive ones against barca.

      We have seen how vulnerable their defence can be when put under pressure, i think thats where we can exploit them. We need to defend in numbers and also attack in numbers.

      1. They will have more of the ball than us so we will have to as a consequence defend for most of the time and will need that double defensive pairing of El Neny Coq.

        But, your right, when we can counter we should in numbers and with pace although with not too many numbers or they will counter our counter and …

  3. I know this sounds negative but I don’t think we have any chance of eliminating Barca even if we play at the top of our game for two games against them.

    Although Coquelin might help avoid a 4 or 5-0 nil drubbing (“might” being the operative word) we just lack in all crucial departments.

    We lack the ability to play disciplined and defensively for 90 minutes at a time. (Always a laps on set-plays or dead moments or other naive defending or needles red card)
    We lack the ability to score goals with 20 shots let alone with the 1 or 2 shots Barca might allow.
    We lack speed in critical areas. Both Mert and Giroud are way too slow to bother either end of the Barca team.
    I doubt Wenger is willing to meaningfully adjust his tactics against Barca.

    I hope we don’t see Giroud. Not because he is un-special but because as Henry said, we need to play on the counter and be efficient with the few chances we might get. Giroud is too slow to play on the counter and needs too many chances to score.

    I would like to see Elneny get a chance but it would be unfair to expect too much from him given how few minutes he has gotten with the first team since his arrival.

    I would go with Walcott upfront supported by Sanchez, Ozil and Ramsey.

    I hope we don’t see Flamini.

    Since we have little chance to win, I would like to see an experiment;

    Ramsey (or Chaimbers)-Coq-Elneny

    I would rest Welbeck since he is only just returning and would not risk him on 3 days rest. Put him in for Walcott with 30 minutes left in the game to help him regain match rhythm for the remainder of the season.

    Being eliminated by Barca is not a shame and might help with the final run in for the PL. We should just try to avoid a major confidence shattering embarrassment.

  4. The huge difference between Barca and Arsenal at the moment can be summed up by Joel Campbell’s free kick v Hull. It was a brilliant free kick and an excellent save, but Saurez would have put in the rebound off of the post. We do not have the same predatory instinct for goals.

  5. Ozil doesn’t really unlock defences, he bypasses them, as if they weren’t there 😉 He’s not that effective if not given time on the ball.

    Meanwhile, Silva and Cazorla unlock defences. Most of their damage is done through the middle. They try to take on players, and work their way through tight spaces.

    1. Have you watched Ozil play before? His ability to play one touch passes and find gaps through a defence are amongst his two greatest strengths.

  6. Ox, Ozil, Coquelin, Ramsey and Bellerin will all start on Tuesday. Sanchez will start as well, but on current form I’ll play Welbeck in his place.

    1. Can put Sanchez on the bench for a game
      like this that’s crazy talk lol !!

      He’s definitely had a little blip maybe he’s
      been thinking about Barcelona game, playing
      against old club and all that jazz !!?

      1. Yes, I would put Sanchez on the bench. On current form, Walcott, Welbeck, the OX and heck even Iwobi deserve to start ahead of him. But hey, what do I know? He might just rediscover his form against Barca tomorrow 🙂

        1. Enough of this English player idolisation please, it’s Barcelona we are playing and Ox has not shown that kind of quality to keep getting this level of support especially v Alexis. That also goes for Walcott who hasn’t shown too much either. As for Welbeck he has barely come back from injury and Iwobi while promising, certainly wasn’t our best player v Hull.

  7. First 2 challenges on Neymar & Messi
    wipe them right out there boots !!
    I know Barca is on fire but I don’t care
    I’m buzzing for it !!
    Bring them on man here we f@cking
    go !!

  8. Listen baby please

    Park the bench first game
    Park the bench 2nd game and win on penalties

    Bellerin, Gabs, koscielny, mert, Gibbs, monreal
    Chambers, Coquelin, Eleney, Gabriel, Flamini

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