Who was the last defensive midfielder Arsenal had? Many have been used to fill this void such as Arteta, Wilshere, Ramsey, Diaby, Fabregas. Arguably all better utilised in an attacking midfield role. Flamini perhaps is the last one Arsenal fans can think of when he was partnered alongside Fabregas all them years ago. However for me the last true defensicve midfielder arsenal had was Gilberto Silva. The robust midfielder was pivotal in the Arsenal team that went unbeaten. He formed a formidable partnership with Vieira; protecting the back four, allowing the four in front of him to truly expressing themselves. Since then Arsenal have had no viable alternative and consequently have suffered, only one trophy with Arsenal falling slightly short in all other competitions. However with the emergence of Coquelin this season can he finally be the solution?
In comparison to Arteta and Flamini this season Coquelin’s passing stats are inferior however his defensive stats are superior. His passing accuracy is 83.9% whereas Flamini’s is 91.6% and Arteta’s even better at 93.8%. Arteta is utilised by Wenger to start attacks and his ball retention ability is pivotal in ensuring Arsenal maintain possession. Coquelin has a higher tackle percentage rate at 94.1% compared to 81.8% and 73.2% for Arteta and Flamini respectively. He also has won 9 more headers than Arteta and only 2 less than Flamini having played 10 games less. However the most important stat is that with Coquelin in the team Arsenal have a much higher win percentage. Arteta is undoubtedly a defensive midfielder who should be partnered alongside a more robust player who will further compliment his style of play. Flamini also has a robust side to the game but he is very reckless at times and with his age Arsenal need to look to the future. Coquelin was very impressive in games against Stoke and Hull but was key in the big game against Man City. Previously Arsenal had a terrible record in Manchester but he was instrumental in not only winning the game but changing the style against the big teams away from home. He had a 100% tackle success rate and made 11 clearances and 6 interceptions.
It is very easy to get carried out with the Coquelin hysteria generated after the Manchester City game. It is worth remembering that Santi Cazorla was unplayable and the Arsenal shape helped them to win the game. It is also worth stating that he was on loan to Charlton at the start of this season. I do feel that Arsenal need another player in that area, with the name Morgan Schneiderlin being heavily touted. He has been pivotal in Southampton’s success this season, propelling them to a spot in the top four. He offers the brawn and the beauty that Arsenal require in that position. At £25 million he would be a really sound investment for Arsenal. There are other options such as Khedira but I feel that Schneiderlin with his Premier League experience and age would be perfect for Arsenal.
This is not to say Coquelin can’t be the answer to Arsenal’s problems. He is young and from this start to the season continually improving. I just feel that arsenal need answers now and also cover in that position. Morgan Schneiderlin would propel Arsenal to new heights and Coquelin would be able to learn a lot off him which would again help with his development.