In part 2 of the article we have covered two entirely different players but equally as important to the side.
If Francis Coquelin had been bought for £25 million in January, he would have been hailed as the signing of the season – such has been his value to this Arsenal side. Coquelin may have been brought in as emergency cover but its fair to say that he has grabbed the opportunity and made full use of it. Le Coq has now signed a five year contract with Arsenal and what a turnaround for a player who before Christmas was playing for a Championship side. Coquelin has been quite the shield for the Gunners and it’s not sheer coincidence that the Gunners have improved since his return.
The Frenchman is probably the only midfielder in our team who thinks defending is as important as attacking (I am staring at you Aaron Ramsey). Coquelin’s performance against City – where he came up against the likes of Silva, Aguero and Jovetic – was one of the best defensive midfield performances from anyone all season. The thing that I like about the Coq is that he doesn’t shrink away from challenges. He doesn’t get fazed by the flair of Silva nor by the thuggery of Fellaini. The way he stood up against the elbowing Belgian at Old Trafford went a long way in sealing the game for the Gunners. And he has that magical ability to play with a broken nose.
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If you want to understand how the press in England evaluate footballers who don’t tackle, put their foot in and run with their fists clenched look no further than the German Wizard. No Arsenal player has covered more distance since the former Real Madrid man returned to the side. Even then he gets castigated for being lazy, for not putting a shift in and another lazy excuse the media has come up with recently is the quite nonsense accusation that Ozil’s return has had a negative influence on Alexis Sanchez’s performance.
While Sanchez has obviously gone off the boil, it’s bordering on the insane to blame the German for the Chilean’s decline. On the contrary Ozil and Alexis perfectly complement each other. The subtlety of Ozil and the cheekiness of Alexis is what makes this Arsenal team feared by their rivals.
The Renaissance may have come a little too late for a title challenge against the dark forces of Mourinho but there is every chance for a successful end to what has been a gruelling season at times.