Arsenal bizarrely started Francis Coquelin over Aaron Ramsey, but believe it or not, Coquelin did everything you’d want someone in his position to do.
Arsenal went into Stoke City with everything to lose, which usually spells disaster for a soft-centered Gunners, but what ended up happening was much different. When Stoke turned up the heat and transformed the game into a near bloodbath, Arsenal outdid the Potters, raising the stakes one higher and rubbing the hosts noses in the dirt.
They couldn’t have done that without all hands on deck, and they absolutely had all the hands they needed, especially Francis Coquelin.
I was out of my mind when birthday boy Coquelin was started over Super Rambo, but right from the start you could see that something was different. Coquelin was dribbling effectively, maintaining possession and his passing wasn’t a complete crap shoot.
Essentially, he was a fully functional midfielder after an entire season of helping us realize that he could never be a fully functional midfielder.
Now, I don’t want to get crazy. I have already dubbed Aaron Ramsey “super Rambo” again. I don’t intend on going off another deep end today and saying that Francis Coquelin is clearly a new man and ready to become a worldy. But you have to start somewhere.
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And what a great place to start. This is a massive building block for Coquelin. Maybe he has been working on his offensive game more than ever before. Maybe he is finally feeling the pressure. Who knows. All I know is that the Coquelin we saw against Stoke is worth holding onto. He’s worth putting some hope in.
But that is where I get leery. “Hope” is different when it comes to Arsenal. So much hope goes unrequited and it’s so damn annoying to keep hoping in the same old things that never change. Coquelin was one thing that never changed. But if you asked me to harken back to the last time he looked effective going forward, I’d draw a blank. Has he ever?
This is a fantastic step for a still relatively young Coquelin. But I don’t see him getting many more chances in the final two matches to prove that this is the new him or anything like that. So the best thing we can do now is see what happens come next year.
Hopefully this wasn’t enough to push Wenger into not pursuing a potential midfield solution. Because that would suck.