Francis Coquelin: Arsenal’s Champion Over Manchester!


Arsenal played a young boy in midfield; I had hardly heard of him РFrancis Coquelin Рand he barely played again. He was completely out of his depth. 

That is an extract taken out of Sir Alex Ferguson’s autobiography. He is describing Francis Coquelin’s performance in the 8-2 drubbing Arsenal suffered at the hands of Manchester United on the twenty-eighth of August 2011.

I am pretty sure Fergie had written off the young French midfielder at that point as a player who was probably never going to make the grade as a footballer at a top European club.

Fast forward to the present day, three and a half years after that mauling at Old Trafford and Arsenal managed to beat Man Utd in Manchester for the first time since 2006.

The man of the match? Well that was one Francis Coquelin.

As a combative defensive midfield warrior, the twenty-three year old has finally emerged as a man not to be easily shrugged off or overawed by an occasion… Like he was in 2011.

For years, many of us have been saying that Arsenal needed balance, a tougher spine and a ball winning middle-man. Who knew Coquelin would be that man?

The midfielder has been a rock (maybe we could rename him Coq the Rock?) for the Gunners since he had returned from a loan spell at Charlton in December. In fact he’s spent three spells away from the Emirates glare to try and find his way.

He had various degrees of failure and success during these loan deals but the experiences, both good and bad, would have helped mould his style and determination to succeed at Arsenal.

As a younger player Francis also had the problem of being seen as either a holding midfielder or a makeshift right-back. Constant rotation in terms of your role, can confuse and worry a young pro, who is still making his way in the game. They can often react badly to it and struggle to then nail down a regular place in the starting line-up.

But since his arrival back in the bosom of Wenger’s squad, he has been terrific. The player is a big reason why the Gunners are flying in the league and heading for another Wembley appearance.

The thing Coquelin offers that recent Arsenal squads have lacked is legs in midfield and a solid protection ahead of the defensive four. Unlike Mikel Arteta, Francis likes a tackle, on average he makes more than three tackles a game. Unlike Mathieu Flamini, he offers more mobility when tracking the opposing star players.

Even after a clash with United’s Marouane Fellaini, which left him nursing a bloody nose, Coquelin picked himself up, dusted himself down and kept on battling the Man Utd midfield. And the combative general in Arsenal colours deservedly won the battle.

Coquelin isn’t just smart in a tackle, he’s also very adept at going in for a block or intercepting a pass. Key tools for any holding player. Plus his passing success rate is over 80%. Now he wont often provide that killer pass for an assist but that isn’t his role, he’s there to win the ball and play it to someone like Santi Cazorla, Mesut Ozil or Alexis Sanchez.

The battling Laval native didn’t just halt United’s FA Cup hopes, he was also integral when it came to Arsenal securing all three points against the other lot in Manchester, English league champions Man City. That day saw City’s twelve game unbeaten run end and more importantly for Wenger, and his players, it saw Arsenal secure their first win over Man City since 2010. Coquelin’s display typified Arsenal’s rugged and pragmatic display by throwing himself in front of shots constantly or winning the ball in tackles.

That display along with the resurrection of Francis Coquelin’s Gunners career has shown that Arsene is capable of change and can win the important games with a slightly more negative style.

Who knows, Coq the Rock (go with it!) could be the best piece of winter business Arsenal have done in a long time and his newly found confidence could be a deciding factor for Arsenal when it comes to securing Champions League football again for next season.

5 Responses to “Francis Coquelin: Arsenal’s Champion Over Manchester!”

  1. Good article, I think he had another great performance against United. Have a look at my blog here @

  2. Great blog. Well done!

  3. He is the CoqBlocker!

  4. Nice blog

  5. […] In the midfield, they have a disciplined Francis Coquelin who will sit back and marshall in front of the defence with his combative style. He has added much needed balance to Wenger’s team. The youngster was also pivotal in the Gunners downing Manchester United back in March. […]

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