Francis Coquelin Progressing Faster Than Arsenal Could Have Imagined


It wasn’t long ago that I wanted Jack Wilshere to take Francis Coquelin’s spot. He was brash in his tackles, didn’t contribute to the attack and his passing was a little helter-skelter at times. However, now I can’t picture an Arsenal lineup without the brutish midfielder.

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Francis Coquelin was on loan at Charlton Athletic to start the year and apparently only Jack Wilshere vouched for the skill of his French counterpart (he also vouched for Benik Afobe – maybe we should listen to Jack more often). Coquelin made his first appearance on Decemeber 13th as a sub against Newcastle. He was used as a sub two more times before being given his first Arsenal start of the season on December 28th against West Ham.

Francis Coquelin gave us a taste of what was to come in that game. He put up four interceptions, four tackles and six clearances. However, he also picked up a yellow card and only completed 73% of his passes. Defensively – superb; but a liability in discipline and passing.

The rambunctious mid would pick up four yellow cards in four games – quite a concern for a guy that was proving to be a necessity.

Fast forward to March 4th, 10 matches after his four straight yellow cards. Francis Coquelin has only had two yellow cards in those ten games and QPR is on the docket for Arsenal. The enforcer racks up six tackles, three interceptions and eight clearances (via WhoScored). Clearly his defensive numbers are still hanging in there without the disciplinary drawbacks.

Oh, and his passing? Just under 90%.

Let’s take a look at another example: April 11th against Burnley. Francis Coquelin has now gone seven matches without a yellow card. He’d make it eight after the match and put up an insane 11 interceptions as well. Adding two tackles and two clearances would make it one of his best defensive performances. And then there’s that 85% pass completion.

Finally, Arsenal’s most recent match against Chelsea. A big name team and a big name game. What would Francis Coquelin do? Well, he wouldn’t play the full 90 for the first time in four matches because Arsenal needed offensive reinforcements and he’d pick up a yellow card.

Cause for concern? Not necessarily. He would still contribute five massive interceptions, two tackles and a clearance while putting up a team high 93.2% pass completion (all stats via

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Francis Coquelin has become an irreplaceable starter in a very short time. His improvement is absolutely astounding. He went from a defensive brute to a well-rounded and well-disciplined defensive brute in just a couple of months. Being just 23 years old, he still has plenty of room to grow with this team. He’s already the best defensive midfielder in the league based on statistics and more.

He broke his nose (twice, arguably) in a game and continued to play on regardless, so it would take a massive injury to keep him down. Francis Coquelin could turn into one of the better success stories Arsenal has had. If he could develop some semblance of an offensive repertoire, there’s no telling where he could end up.

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