Club legend Martin Keown says we don’t need to worry about signing a new defensive midfielder in the January transfer window because Francis Coquelin has provided the solution.
The disappointment around Arsenal following the 2-0 New Year’s Day defeat to Southampton was palpable and the defence were badly exposed because of a lack of support from midfield.
“Since that defeat by Saints, Wenger has improved them massively at the back,” Keown wrote in his BBC column.
“He has done it by adjusting his midfield system to make it work with the players he has already got, rather than signing any more.
“Coquelin’s impact since he came into the first team in December has been a huge bonus for Arsenal.”
Both captain Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini had failed to fill the void in front of the back line that used to be occupied by the likes of Patrick Vieira, Gilberto Silva and Alex Song.
As a result we were being linked with what seemed like every holding player in European football – and beyond – and the pressure was mounting on Arsene Wenger to address the issue.
Yet in a very Wenger like way instead of spending big in the transfer market, he quietly recalled Coquelin – who had previously failed to impress at the Emirates Stadium – from a loan spell at Charlton Athletic.
Since then the 23-year-old has played every match for the Gunners and alongside Aaron Ramsey in midfield on Sunday looked solid as we thrashed Aston Villa 5-0.
“Ramsey is the player who Wenger primarily wants to see coming back to form a two-man shield in front of their defence,” Keown continued.
“Arsenal are quite happy for the other team to have the ball because, with Ramsey and Coquelin both back, they know the opposition cannot hurt them.
“Ramsey can still gamble and go forward when Arsenal have good possession, but he is picking his moments far more carefully than before, and he does not join attacks as much as he did.”