Francis Coquelin has been phenomenal since being recalled early from his loan spell with Charlton late last year, and Arsene Wenger recognises the talent on display. The young Frenchman has come in for some criticism from Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville recently, but Wenger has leapt to his compatriot’s defence by insisting he is Europe’s top defensive midfielder, as reported by Goal.
The 24-year-old played a huge part in our goalless draw against Liverpool this past Monday, and if it weren’t for him, a sloppy looking back line could have been in some serious trouble.
Neville claimed Coquelin wasn’t good enough to be part of a Premier League winning side (via the Daily Mail), and was highly critical of the midfield pairing of he and Santi Cazorla.
Wenger has refuted these claims though, pointing to the stats which show Coquelin is among the best defensive midfielders in Europe.
“Coquelin has the best defensive statistics and numbers in Europe. You watch football like I watch football. I don’t know what people see. Defensively, Coquelin is doing a great job,” he said.
“Look, I am not against opinion. People can say they don’t think Arsenal is good enough. I accept that. But it is dangerous to say ‘He will never be a player’ — especially when the comment has come from people in football.
“It doesn’t annoy me, but what is a concern is that it puts pressure on players. I believe that we are in a football job.
“People who have been in the game, I love that they go on television. But I would like them to help people to love football even more.”
Coquelin proved at times last season that he has what it takes to go up against the top talent in the Premier League, so how anyone can question his ability is a mystery.
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We do need reinforcements in that department though, as we can’t rely on the tough tackling Frenchman to be fit and in form for the entirety of the campaign.