Francis Coquelin – the man who’s welcome revelation quite possibly saved our season, and arguably secured the future of Arsene Wenger – celebrates his 24th birthday today.
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) May 13, 2015
Just what would’ve transpired had he not made his timely rise is rather unthinkable.
At a time when we couldn’t string three Premier League wins together, and resembled a team filled with a number of strangers, Coquelin was deployed in the holding midfield role and made it all make sense.
The likes of Santi Cazorla and Mesut Özil have been allowed to operate centrally, with the pair given the license to roam forward, safe in the knowledge that their insurance policy will cover in behind.
It is a position that has needed to be addressed for a number of years, and the importance placed on the player operating at the base of a midfield in modern football has been vividly illustrated by the Frenchman. Whilst Coquelin may not be the answer if we’re to sustain a title challenge over a 38-game period, he’s certainly become an integral part of our squad.
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Our record in the big games has drastically improved this season too, and that is largely down to both Wenger, and the vital option Coquelin has given him.
Below, we list Coquelin’s top five performances this season, and with arguably our biggest game yet to arrive, we certainly hope he’s saved one more colossal performance in the locker for Wembley.
5. Francis Coquelin vs Chelsea (0-0).
This performance definitely displayed Coquelin’s tactical nous, focusing for the majority of the game and constantly being aware of Chelsea’s lethal counter-attacking capabilities.
Jose Mourinho parked the bus at the Emirates Stadium, and in the past he’s come away from the Emirates – or Highbury – with all three points by landing a sucker punch on the counter.
This, coupled with the fact that we haven’t had a natural defensive midfielder for a number of years, often left us lacking the needed tools to challenge his teams.
Coquelin was sensational in this game, with the likes of Eden Hazard and Willian stopped in their tracks as they attempted to break away.