Francis Coquelin has taken his opportunity with both hands since making a surprise return to the starting lineup for the Gunners which begs the question – has he overtaken Mathieu Flamini in the midfield pecking order?
Mikel Arteta remains the first choice option at the base of the Arsenal midfield but with an injury keeping the club captain sidelined until next week at least, Wenger has a tough decision to make ahead of the home clash with Stoke City.
Coquelin played alongside Flamini on Boxing Day in the 2-1 win over West Ham United, and then deputized for his compatriot for the New Years Day loss and Sunday’s 2-0 win over Hull City producing strong, combative displays. Wenger has been suitably impressed and could choose the 23-year-old this weekend to anchor the midfield.
Once an exciting young prodigy, Coquelin struggled to crack into the first team on a regular basis and found himself farmed out on loan last season to Freiburg where he struggled, playing just 16 times and often out of position. The Frenchman demonstrated his versatility with a positive performance at left back against Southampton in the Capital One Cup loss, but was consequently sent to Charlton Athletic on loan.
Since his emergency recall Wenger has been full on praise, hailing him as the ‘satisfaction’ from the hectic festive period. The Gunners boss said after the FA Cup win:
I think he’s a satisfaction over the Christmas period. Francis has done well in all the three games he’s played over the Christmas period. He’s matured a lot and he’s very strong in the fight. I would say I have a very positive impression of his last three games.
Coquelin is certainly quicker and more agile than both Arteta and Flamini, energizing the engine room at a time when it has struggled to chug. Although he lacks as much experience as the aforementioned duo, he may well have leapfrogged Flamini in the pecking order considering his recent outings for the Gunners. He even offers a little more going forward yet still has more than enough aggression to his game similarly to the often rash Flamini.
Coquelin is not the long time answer however. One thing his performance has shown however is how important an all action defensive midfielder would greatly improve our team.
Get the cheque book out Wenger and buy Morgan Schneiderlin!
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