Per Mertesacker has hit out at Francis Coquelin following our draw with Tottenham, making it clear he blames the Frenchman’s ill discipline for our failure to take all three points, as reported by the Express.
We were really in control when Coquelin lost his mind, with the midfielder sliding in needlessly on Harry Kane and getting his second yellow. We may have managed a draw – despite going 2-1 down – but with 11 men on the pitch we had a great chance of taking all three points. Coquelin’s sending off was unquestionably a turning point in the game, and it’s hard not to blame him at least a little for the draw.
“I think we need to be more disciplined in those occasions. There was no danger, he [Coquelin] was at the sideline as well,” Mertesacker said.
“It took us 15 minutes to cope with that, being one man down, but after we played fantastically and could have scored a third one I think.
“We had couple of good breaks and how the team responded after 15 minutes was great.
“In between it took us a bit but in the heat of the game it is difficult. Overall, the spirt is great and we fought until the end.”
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While it’s easy to blame Coquelin for not winning a game where we desperately needed to take all three points, we’ve got to look at the bigger picture. Individuals make individual mistakes, and sometimes they cost you games. We’re in the position we’re in though – needing maximum points from every game possible – due to the poor performances of the team. Just because Coquelin was the one who was reckless on this occasion, we can’t pile any more blame on him than we would the rest of the team.
Arsene Wenger is known for his unwillingness to criticise his own players, so perhaps it’s a good thing that Mertesacker is willing to speak out in this way. He hasn’t been infallible himself this season though, with his reckless challenge on Diego Costa against Chelsea costing us more than just two points, so stones and glass houses and all that.
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It’s disappointing that Coquelin’s catastrophic mistake came at such a crucial time, but his energy, tenacity, and aggression are massive parts of his game, and we know he’s got that in him. We need to put things in perspective though, and move forward from here. It’s possible we’ll fall just short of the title and look back at this game, but we have to look at our season as a whole instead.