Arsenal Must Find Backup for Francis Coquelin


Thus far in 2015, Arsenal has had a year to remember. The Gunners are now sitting in 3rd place in the EPL table, and are three points behind Manchester City and two above United but with a game in hand. The side suffered a disappointing loss at Swansea City last week against the run of play but will be hoping that that unsuccessful performance will only be a blip in their 2015 climb to the top three.

However, if the Gunners are to carry their success to upcoming performances and even upcoming seasons, depth at defensive mid and coverage for Francis Coquelin is and will be vital to Arsenal.

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Ever since he made his first start December 28th at the Boleyn Ground against West Ham, Francis Coquelin has been a stalwart in an improved Arsenal squad. Arsenal’s rise in 2015 can be attributed to many sources, but no other Gunner has made the impact the young Frenchman has.

For starters, he’s been deployed by Arsene Wenger in 26 of Arsenal’s last 27 games (per after Wenger recalled him from his loan stint at Charlton. If that’s not a sign of his utmost importance to the current Arsenal squad, then what is?

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Moreover, his stats tell a similar story. Francis Coquelin, who hasn’t made one defensive error for Arsenal this season, has an 83% successful take-on rate, and he wins 66% of his aerial duels. To put these key stats, especially for defensive midfielders, into perspective, both of them are superior to Nemanja Matic’s rates (80% and 62% respectively), and the Serbian is commonly referred to as one of if not the best defensive mid in the EPL.

Plus, Francis Coquelin averages significantly more interceptions per game at 3.55  compared to Matic’s 2.09, showing the Frenchman’s undoubted knack for reading the game (all stats per

The difference Francis Coquelin has made in the squad is much more important, though. Arsenal was sitting in 6th place before Coquelin appeared for the Gunners in December 2014, and now the club should probably be in 2nd.

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What’s more, if the side played like it has in 2015 in the first half of the season, the Gunners could be challenging for the title right now, and one factor that has truly made a difference in Arsenal’s rise in the latter half of this campaign is Francis Coquelin’s emergence in the side.

It’s now clear that the French defensive mid is anything but expendable to Arsenal. Given Arsenal’s poor injury history, though, Francis Coquelin, who has seemed relatively invincible- he hasn’t been significantly injured for about six months while playing in North London- will most likely succumb to knocks here and there if he remains a consistent feature for the Arsenal squad.

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That is why backup must be found at defensive mid. With Mathieu Flamini seemingly on his way out and Mikel Arteta aging quickly, a backup- not necessarily a replacement- should be a priority for Arsenal, and if the Gunners want to carry success into their next season, cover for the 24 year old defensive mid is a necessity.

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