Player Name: Francis Coquelin
Player Age: 24
Appearances: (All Comps): 30
Goals: (All Comps): 0
Assists: (All Comps): 0
Clean Sheets: (All Comps): 11
Fresh Arsenal Season Rating: 9/10
After a lacklustre appearance in the Emirates cup and being loaned out to Charlton, it seemed Francis Coquelin’s Arsenal career was all but over. Injuries to Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta left Arsenal short in the midfield and Mathieu Flamini was not in the best of form. This forced Arsene Wenger to recall Coquelin, and the rest is history. Many fans were underwhelmed by the decision and hoped for a big midfield signing in the January transfer window. But after a couple of games, Coquelin showed the fans that he could be the mystical defensive midfielder Arsenal have been crying out for ever since the departure of Patrick Vieira. His shining performance came against Manchester City at the Etihad. It’s fair to say Arsenal fans were expecting another disappointing performance in a big away game but Arsene Wenger sent the team out to endure pressure and score on the break. Francis Coquelin stopped almost every City attack, practically nullifying any threat they had to offer.
This continued for the rest of the season. Even in the games where Arsenal lost, it was almost impossible to blame Coquelin who left his heart on the pitch every game. With less appearances to his name, he still managed to outrank other big name defensive midfielders in the Premier League in almost every department. Coquelin had more interceptions (79) than Matic and Schneiderlin, and his aerial duels won % was higher than both players, even though he’s only 5 ft 10. This shows his athletic ability and eye for the ball. His awareness and focus for the complete 90 mins is the reason Arsenal did not concede late goals when he started and he was the reason the attacking players could push forward without worrying about a counter-attack.
The reason for his renaissance comes down to his desire to stay at a club of Arsenal’s stature. If he was sold, he never would’ve been able to climb the ladder of success. He is an Arsenal fan, he knew what type of player they were missing, he knew what he had to do. Coquelin is comfortable on the ball and can get past players when he wants to but he knew it wouldn’t help. His job was to protect the back four and he did exactly that. Arsenal won 22 of the 30 games he featured in, and let’s not forget his crowning performance in the FA Cup final. Much like the rest of the starting 11, Coquelin was unbeatable. His tackling was perfect, great in the air and his dribbling was immaculate. It was a beautiful sight to see him lift his first trophy for Arsenal.
His overall grade is 9/10 for his half season. He has cemented his place in the team and if Arsene Wenger pairs him with a player like Geoffrey Kondogbia or Arturo Vidal, it will be one of the best midfield duos in Europe.