Yes Coq? No Coq?

by .

Morning folks. Apologies for the late post, but things have gone apoplectic at work and my boss has turned into a swearier Malcolm Tucker. The show must go on however – I have my priorities right, I know which way my bread is buttered.

The general consensus amongst large sections of the media, along with much of our fan base, is that a central midfield addition should be at the top of Arsene Wenger’s shopping list this summer, along with the mystical – and mythical – world class front man, a packet of hob knobs and a fresh set of string vests. I am very much of the view that we will not be signing a midfielder this summer, but this made me consider whether we need one at all?

Francis Coquelin has been lauded for his performances in 2015, with his introduction coinciding with our upturn in form. The populist view from the non-existent straw-poll I conducted seems to point to a player to play with Coquelin, or to cover him. Whilst this is understandable, given both his performances and the paucity of proper cover in our squad, I can’t help but feel we would be causing far more concern to the likes of Chelsea if we were to make a ‘first XI’ signing at the expense of Coquelin.

To revert to my initial statement that I can’t see us signing a midfielder, this comes down to how Arsene views our midfield – does he look at our options qualitatively, or quantitatively. Wenger often mentions ‘numbers’ in a position as he did only yesterday, referencing his wide options. In terms of quantity, there is no debate – Coquelin, Arteta, Flamini, Ramsey, Wilshere, Santi and Chamberlain are all vying for a midfield role; with my fear being that the manager will see the number of players he has covering two positions and be happy with his lot.

Aligned with this, Arsene has often tended to view midfielders as a homogenous ‘one’, without pocket holing players into a nuanced role. This can be positive, as it engenders versatile players and flexible systems, but equally we have suffered as a result of lacking someone more specialised in the holding midfield role in particular. For all his deficiencies, which I will touch on, Coquelin highlighted what a player of his ilk can offer, with our upturn in results being testament to that.

I can’t imagine this will be a popular stance, but an upgrade on Coquelin is required if we are to truly push on next season. This isn’t necessarily a criticism of his ability as a player per se, but more a misalignment between his skillset and the way Arsenal – and our rivals – set out to play. The much feted midfield destroyer is a dead-duck if you have serious ambitions about winning the big trophies – think Xabi Alonso, not Lee Cattermole. If you were to analyse the teams that have won the major prizes throughout Europe over the last couple of years, I struggle to recall one who plays with a ‘destroyer’ in the conventional sense. Busquets, Alonso, Schweinsteiger, Matic – first and foremost they are ball players – distributors from deep. They all possess tackling ability and immaculate positioning, but they perform a far greater function for their sides than protecting the back four without the ball – they protect them with the ball too. They provide a constant, safe out-ball for defenders under pressure; with these players’ ability to receive the ball under pressure crucial to easing periods of sustained strain.

This is where Coquelin falls short. For all his defensive capability – which is considerable – his unwillingness to receive the ball under pressure is hugely restrictive and can prove costly in big games. The match that highlighted his deficiencies most brutally was at White Hart Lane; where we were under heavy swathes of pressure and defending exceptionally deep. The pressure was exacerbated by the lack of cool head to receive the ball from the back four and dictate play from deep – be that driving forwards or slowing the game to halt Tottenham’s momentum. This game, more than any, was where we missed Arteta. Despite proclamations of his legs being ‘gone’ – where exactly to, I don’t know – his skillset remains hugely important to Arsenal’s midfield.

Coquelin isn’t a bad passer – at times, when he’s given space he is very good indeed – see the FA Cup final. The dichotomy is that when the team are under severe pressure, he is both our most valuable and most ineffective asset. His energy and ability to snap into tackles, along with the discipline to remain the most deep-lying midfielder is important, but his inability or unwillingness to be the main outlet from defence remains a critical blockage to our chances of competing at the highest level.

In recognition of Coquelin’s weaknesses, Wenger took drastic action, with the net result playing Santi Cazorla in a deep lying midfield role. Whilst he performed magnificently, it robbed us of our best central midfielder – Aaron Ramsey. Santi had to utilise his unsurpassed ability to receive the ball under pressure and mitigate for Coquelin’s inability to do so, but the manifestations of this move are far reaching. For instance, were Ozil to get injured or need resting, Santi is our only convincing deputy for the number 10 role. Shifting Santi further forward would then leave us with an unbalanced midfield partnership of Coquelin and Ramsey.

Furthermore, it is no coincidence that Arsenal’s most dominant period in some time was with a Ramsey-Arteta pivot. This illustrates the blueprint we should be adopting, which would allow Ramsey to also play in his best position.

Beyond this, Coquelin can’t play every game and given Arteta’s increasingly paternal cheerleader role and Flamini’s ever-increasing gut, someone else needs to be able to perform that role.

In light if this, a 25 year old Mikel Arteta would be the best signing Arsenal could make this summer – a ball playing, deep-lying midfielder who can receive the ball under pressure, whilst offering the requisite protection to the back four and one who doesn’t need babysitting by Santi Cazorla. Sadly those players aren’t widely available and those who are tend to be in high demand. In terms of names, the most similar to the one I’ve described above is probably Ilkay Gundogan, who possesses the right skillset. The concerns with him are his injury record, his rotund backside and his new contract at Dortmund.

It may seem I have been harsh on Coquelin, who has performed admirably over the last six months. He has an important role in our squad and would certainly get plenty of game time, but his limitations restrict Arsenal going forwards and backwards. I fear he will continue to do so, unless we find that 1989 Arteta.

Until next time x

Give me a follow on Twitter @James_Willson2

381 Responses to “Yes Coq? No Coq?”

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  1. Bacaryisgod

    Maybe a little harsh on Coquelin? How about ridiculously harsh? So desperate to support your argument that you have to find one poor game Coquelin had? Everyone was off that day! Even so, Coq handled the ball just fine under pressure from several teams better than Spurs.

  2. Highbury4ever

    “IN ADDITION, we have the cash reserves to do a one-off purchase of probably 2 or 3 more of these players”

    It’s been YEARS that we have HUGE cash reserves, and what exactly wenger has did with them ??
    Not much…

    Wake the fuck up guys, no other great player is coming this summer.
    Wenger out asap please.

  3. Kane

    You are looking at this all wrong… the argument is not Coq or not – the argument is can a top club challenge on 4 fronts with 1 quality CDM or do they need 2?.

    I you think we only need 1 then you are deluded to say the least. What happens if Coq is injured after 10 games – then what?

    Again it is a case of gross negligence on behalf of Arsenal if they go into a season with a thin squad on the assumption they will not get injures.

    It is basically telling the world – we do not want to compete.

    So frustrating

    SORT IT OUT WENGER!

  4. Wallace

    Bacary

    “Maybe a little harsh on Coquelin? How about ridiculously harsh? ”

    agreed. we finally unearth/back into a great DM, the balance of the team and performances generally improve markedly, and now people are moaning about his offensive contribution….it’s insane.

  5. davi

    I don’t see his inability or lack of desire to receive the ball in difficult situations – I saw this as yet another of his strengths! He rarely gives the ball away in front of the defence (admittedly he does on occasion but not a great deal more than someone like Arteta or Pirlo). I also reject the idea that we were most dominant with the Arteta-Ramsey pivot – Since Coquelin starting playing this year (and after a few others returned from injury) I don’t think we’ve been as convincing a side since 2007/08 and I don’t think the success of the Arteta-Ramsey pivot was so much to do with Arteta’s position in front of the defence, rather it was the brilliant attacking form of Ramsey!
    As far as I’m concerned there is no one in the squad who can remotely compete with Coquelin as a DM. I can see the argument for playing Arteta in games where teams are literally going to park the bus (aside from Chelsea as they will go for it on the break) but in any serious game, which is the vast majority of PL games, Coquelin’s defensive nouse is essential and his ability and desire to recive the ball and retain possession far from inadequate.
    I have to say one of the biggest things he’s brought to the side is his ability to win the ball in the air as well. It’s very underrated and takes a lot of pressure off the defence. He’s very very good at it and I think it would be sorely missed were he to lose his place to an alternative style of midfielder, particularly in this league.

  6. Walking Wounded

    Wilshere is your man. He does it for England, he needs to do it for us.

    He has the skill set, he just needs Arteta to teach him the nuances of the role. Otherwise he is a bench warmer

  7. Wallace

    we’re the most offensively-inclined team in the land. we can handle having a midfielder in the side whose primary role is defensive.

  8. davi

    Kane – agree with you there mate. It’s asking for a miracle not to expect him to miss at least some game time and what happens if that happens to be before a game against one of the decent teams? No chance.

  9. Kane

    http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20150713/wenger-on-singapore-title-and-transfers

    on further transfer deals…

    That doesn’t depend only on us, it depends on whether we can find them, but if we can find one or two players we will do it.

    “I don’t close the door,” the Frenchman said.

    “If we can find any player who can strengthen the squad then we will. We have strengthened the squad already and I believe part of the success of the team is down to the level of cohesion.

    “We have a good level of cohesion and at the moment what is very important to our squad and myself is to see how we can move forward again.

    “We feel that we moved forward last season but it’s not enough to think that’s okay, we have to move forward again. It’s much more important about the team now rather than finding the right player.

    “I believe we have the quality and it’s now how much we can be stronger together.”

  10. Biggus

    As much as Arteta is a cool head, I won’t exactly call him a good deep lying playmaker. Most of his passes are not progressive; mostly passing sideways or back. I don’t think Coq’s passes are that bad, he just started playing fully with the team in January so I think he will improve in this aspect and push on. I have a suspicion that Wenger won’t buy anymore and just feel maybe a miracle can happen again like it never does every year..

  11. Northbanker

    I said for most of last season’s posts we won’t buy a CDM. Coq is now firmly in that role so he won’t spend £25m on another. The fact that Schneiderlin has gone to Man U underlines that as he would have been the purchase. I also stated that Bielik had been bought as Coq’s understudy and I stand by that That is why Arteta has a 1 year extension – to fill in the gap while Bielik develops. If Coq gets injured early on he has kept Flamini for same reason – to rotate Arteta and Flamini while Bielik develops.

    I’m not saying thats the best plan but merely what I believed was in Wenger’s head .

  12. dean0002

    QUESTION: how far away is BEILIK right now? We got him on the fact that he had already started to feature in the first team of his last club. Also, his Youtube comp shows someone able to boss physically.

  13. Goondawg

    It doesn’t look like we will sign any first teamers

    We have options in the midfield and striker positions

    Wenger is gearing towards buying no one

  14. Adam

    Arteta was bought from Everton as an attacking midfielder. Later on, we tried to mould him into a deep lying midfielder because of our reluctance to spend in that position and because yes, his legs had indeed gone. Your criticism of Coquelin is unfounded. With him in he team our form was considerably better; the kind of title winning form. He’s not our best passer of the ball nor our best player with the ball at feet but we have many other players with these attributes and so is not necessary. His strengths are interceptions, tackling, protecting the DF, breaking up play; something which he did incredibly well. Honestly I find his article incredibly. What games have you been watching?

  15. Emiratesstroller

    James Wilson

    Sorry but I have to disagree with your analysis.

    Arsenal’s weaknesses in recent season were that our midfield for all its ball
    playing skills lacked defensive ethic and far too often left our defence completely exposed.

    That changed after Christmas when for the first time all 11 players in the team
    were expected to do a proper defensive shift and track back.

    Coquelin may not be the most skilful footballer on the planet, but he offers two very important ingredients to team. The first is “discipline” and the second
    is “proper defending”. He had very few poor games when he played and he made a real difference to team.

    Frankly we do not need him to play like Messi. We have plenty of other creative and skilful players in the team and as was pointed out in recent seasons one of the main weaknesses of Arsenal teams was that far too many players in
    midfield were of the same type.

    Several years ago we had a very similar situation at the club when Flamini in
    his prime was our midfield destroyer. Flamini is and was by no figment of the
    imagination a technically gifted player, but he made a real difference to team,
    which is precisely why AC Milan then one of the two top teams in Europe nicked him from us.

    Sometimes you need to look at individual players and collectively at the chemistry they offer. The dilemma we have at moment is not whether Coquelin should play in this team, but rather what happens if he does not.

    Flamini and Arteta are not good enough to sit on bench let alone play in first
    team and the only other option at moment is Wilshire. The question is whether he is disciplined or fit enough to play as a DMF in absence of Coquelin?

  16. Crusaderrabbit

    Regardless of club, all any fan can really ask for is that their club do everything within their capability to be successful. For a club the size of Arsenal the only true measure of success is the PL and CL.

    So my question is, in recent times, has Arsenal football club and Arsene Wenger done everything within its power to be successful in these competitions?

    As far as I’m concerned it’s an unequivocal no, becasue every single season we handicap ourselves with obvious gaps in our squad. In many ways I find their behaviour more inexcusable than during the austerity years. Then we at least had the financial restrictions to blame (although I feel that only stretches so far – eg not signing a proper goalie, letting Alonso get away etc). Now those restrictions are gone there is literally no reason for having an incomplete squad – I find it increasingly hard to get behind a team that just are not that interested in improving their position – that’s not sport to me.

    It’s unbelievable to me people can actually argue that sticking with what we have is the right course of action. You can argue about which player etc but I cannot believe anyone can genuinely think we don’t need another quality body in midfield and attack or we can’t get someone to fill that role. As I pointed out yesterday, not getting those players in will be purely down to the manager’s idealistic approach and not the transfer market itself. If say Carvalho and Lacazette is the difference between winning the league or not, what does it matter if they’re 20% over priced? Maybe theyre not the exact ‘dream’ players Arsene wants or the exact ‘perfect’ fit. But we’ve got much much more chance of succeeding with them (or players like them) than without.

    Those Newcastle fans were right, all I ask is we give everything we can to succeed, but we don’t

  17. Paulinho

    Wenger every pre-season for the last ten years:

    “We have plenty of players who can play in the middle of the park”

    Wenger during the season for the past ten seasons:

    “We are a little bit short in the middle of the park”.

  18. gambon

    “agreed. we finally unearth/back into a great DM, the balance of the team and performances generally improve markedly, and now people are moaning about his offensive contribution….it’s insane.”

    a “great DM” in your opinion that is.

    Not everyone feels the same.

  19. London gunner

    Terrible article and here is why.

    Very rarely are football terms named after the footballers themselves, one example is of course the famousCruyff turn,but the most famous of our generation is “The Makelele Role”. The Cruyff turn epitomizes the skill and the footballing brain of its inventor,but total football’s most famous man has an unlikely successor.Claude Makelele’s role(The Makelele Role) at Chelsea under Jose Mourinho when they won the Premier League title was named after its inventor.

    “Unlike Cruyff, Makelele is a player who Arsene Wenger may call an anti-footballer . He is there to break up attacks, to hold the shape of the team. But the Makelele role is different from the traditional defensive mid-fielders, who used to be hard tacklers and generally used to scythe down opponents.The Frenchman was simple, efficient,had great positional sense and was highly disciplined. Whilst at Real Madrid,he was regarded as the most important player by his teammates, who needed a calm and disciplined influence on the pitch.They won the 2002 Champions League with a host of attacking talent like Figo, Zidane, Raul and Roberto Carlos. Going forward Madrid were brilliant, they attacked like bees, and were a neutral’s delight. But it was when they lost possession and the opposition countered, Makelele came into his own. When the opposition attacked he was all alone, with none of his midfield partners doing any sort of tracking back, he kept his calm and broke down plays.His calm presence and slow passing were a key factor in Madrid’s success.He then demanded a new and a bigger contract but Florentino Perez refused to give him one and eventually he was sold to Chelsea. If you think you have better knowledge of football than Perez then betting online is the thing for you.”

    We don’t need a playmaking DM ffs! We have Coq who if he continues progressing could be our makele!

  20. Jamie

    If Coquelin maintained the form of the 2nd half of last season, I would be delighted.

    Unlike Pedro, I don’t feel he needs to add much more to his game. He’s a specialist CDM, a position we’ve needed filling for a few years now. He isn’t a deep-lying playmaker, he’s a simple-passer, and he doesn’t often misplace passes to the other CM to start the attack,

    I do feel we need a player cut of the same cloth to rotate/compete with Coquelin over the course of the season.

  21. tunnygriffboy

    I give up. We cry out for DM. Coquelin comes in and has been outstanding. We go on an amazing run, he wins numerous motm awards and now the hatchets are out, right in his back. It’s sickening but typical.

    Who’s to say that Coquelin won’t improve this season coming ? As he feels more secure and comfortable you may see him use more of his skills. He can certainly pass the ball and is able to beat players in tight spaces. These skills were becomingmore and more apparent as the season went on. As his confidence grows so may his game. Give the lad a break ffs

    If we don’t buy a DM is it possible Wilshere could do the role in certain games. He’s capable of doing it. My preference would be another DM but who knows what we will do.

  22. Dream10

    Emiratesstroller

    I don’t think Wilshere is disciplined enough. He’ll rotate with Oxlade Chamberlain on the right side.

  23. salman

    Every top club has at least two quality DMs. So if we want to challenge those guys we have to get another DM. Otherwise 4th place medal again for us.

  24. underrated Coq

    What an embarrassing article. Then again, coming from the same guy who wrote

    http://le-grove.co.uk/2015/06/22/le-grove-arsenal-season-review/

    wherein he somehow—without a meaningful explanation— managed to give Szczesny a better season rating than Ospina( Yep, LOL ), can’t say I’m all that surprised. I’m James and I’m all about the agenda, eh ?

    Moving on, I do find it strange that so many people on here talk about Chamberlain’s high ceiling and how he’ll improve with time. Its just sad the same is never said for Coquelin who seems destined to forever be an awful ball-player in some people’s eyes.

  25. gambon

    As has also been pointed out, its not even about Coquelin, its absout the fact that we are weak at DM across the squad.

    We have 4 players who play DM, and not one of them is a prime age, proven DM.

    Arteta – Past it, was never a DM anyway
    Flamini – Past it and useless
    Coquelin – Unproven outside of 15 games, on loan at Charlton 8 months ago
    Bielik – A kid, who will probably not even play PL football

    So are you telling me thats enough to win the PL? It isnt, not even close to good enough.

    Age wise, ability wise and numbers wise its all wrong.

    As was pointed out in the post, our CM was so weak vertically last season that we had to convert Cazorla so that we werent completely toothless.

    We are now left with an unbalanced central midfield that is about as tall as Danny Devito, with no real pace and no real power.

  26. Trond

    You have som good points in your article.

    There are however one strength Coc have that Arteta doesnt: Will and ability to play the ball upfield. Arteta on the other side plays nearly all his pases to the sides or back. Thereby he slow us down a lot.

    We will also get problems if/when Coc is out injured. Arteta cant protect us anymore, and Wilshire has not the intelligence to play central midfield.

    I think Coc can develop his little weakness. But he cant play 50 games a season.

  27. gambon

    “Coquelin who seems destined to forever be an awful ball-player in some people’s eyes.”

    Typical ridiculous exaggeration.

    Where has anyone said Coquelin is awful?

    You do realise is is possible for players to fall somewhere between top class and awful right? In fact 99% of the players in the PL fall into that zone.

  28. Gabo

    That we need depth in the DM spot is a popular view, I & many gooners share but this piece of yours is destructive – miss me with rose tinted niceties. you chose to condemn Coq based on half a season of performance.
    AW probably expects the team to stay compact more & defend as a unit – the entire team bombed at WHL – to single out Coq is desperate!!!

  29. Dalgooner

    I am afraid James I strongly disagree, Santi was not moved deep because of Le Coq, he was moved their because he wasn’t happy playing out wide and Ozil needed to play CAM because he was struggling out wide as well.

    The reason why people feel Arteta has lost his legs is because before he was injured he visibly looked tired after around 70 minutes every game last season.

    To imply that we only have Santi to fill in as CAM is unfounded, Ramsey excelled in that position and then there is Wilshere & OX as well.

    Le Coq is the perfect DM as he is unlike your Gundegon’s and your Khediera’s who are box to box players not DM’s. He keeps it simple, protects his back four, intercepts seamlessly and tackles well. It is in no way a DM’s job to be involved in driving forward. I think that your opinion of Matic’s influence in attacks is a bit exaggerated.

    The only thing that Matic has that perhaps Le Coq lacks is height and if we are to sign another DM then I would want a replica of Le Coq but 6ft 5in rather than 5ft 10in.

    Finally I am a bit confused why you think that Ramsey and Le Coq would cause imbalance to the team?

  30. Champagne Charlie

    Not a popular view given the Coquelin hype-storm created last term, but I totally agree.

    Just because Coq offers the visible defensive presence Arteta doesn’t in the DM role doesn’t mean his inability to anchor the midfield when we have possession should be swept under the rug. We have the ball 70% of most games so if a player in the middle of the pitch is pretty average in possession then that only spells trouble for our efficiency as a team.

    I like Coquelin, but it’s economically motivated not to upgrade him. We seem to think we’ve got away with not paying the 20-30mil it could take to land a top drawer DM….I have doubts about that.

  31. Stanlee

    Chelsea only have Matic. They play Mikel or Ramires when Matic is out.
    We can play Arteta against slow teams. There are even teams we don’t need 2 play with a DM. Jack can cover up as well.
    I prefer we buy a striker.
    Just cos Man U bought 2 midfielders doesn’t mean we need them 2.
    I agree with AW. If we find a good player, we buy.

  32. Relieable sauce

    – “we need Arteta of five years ago”.

    Dont agree with that at all James, he would of made a decent CM squad player & thats his limit IMO.

    & now a MA type in his prime would be the ideal DM choice???

    13707 mins played – 13 assists & at least 5 of them were for Everton.

    He is/was too physically weak & falls over appealing to the ref for fouls, gives away too many fouls around the box to play the role & is an easy target for opposing teams.
    He is a limited player as is Coq is but with one big difference – he can improve whilst Arteta cannot.

    Your argument seems a bit of a red herring to me.
    Why do we have such a reliance on a fulcrum? making compensations for the lack of CBs with composure and passing ability perhaps & some very gittery defenders in possession ie – the poop inducing Jenkinson/Mert combo.

  33. London gunner

    Gambon

    Teams like chelsea and Real Madrid have excelled with so called limited player like makele.

    Makele was never rated by the fans and even the club president of real Madrid. But his team mates loved him and understood his true worth.

    I can see this situation playing out with our Coq!

  34. Wallace

    gambon

    “Coquelin – Unproven outside of 15 games, on loan at Charlton 8 months ago”

    or, alternatively, best DM in the PL from December onwards.

    guess it’s how you spin it.

  35. Willow Wilson

    Davi

    Yes agree.

    If we had paid £25 million for Le Coq we wouldn’t be having this debate.

    I couldn’t see Wenger going out and buying a replacement for Coq at £20/£30m and sit one of them on the bench. Cannot see that. We have lots of cover in midfield positions and that’s good. It will be a challenge getting players game time due to competition.

    There are no guarantees with signings. Some hit the ground running, some just don’t work. Look at Di Maria and Falcao for Man Utd. Look at Soldado at Spurs. Balotelli, Lambert and Lovren for Liverpool (all players LG were saying we should buy). Big money has been spent on players that for what ever reason, do not deliver. Ozil took time to settle. There is no guarantee.

    The most important thing is to build on the stability (something we never had when we were selling players) and buy only what we need. Cech was a smart early move. Gabriel and Debuchy strengthen the defence too.

    We have players like Theo, Jack and the Ox who will be like new signings and fresh as daisy’s.

    There is no point getting hung up on one position and building months worth of narrative on it. Look at all the positives, there are plenty.

  36. gambon

    “Chelsea only have Matic. They play Mikel or Ramires when Matic is out.”

    That would be the multi trophy winning 28 year olds Mikel and Ramires?

    And you are comparing the uncapped, unsuccessful, until 3 years ago attacking midfielder to these 2.

    The standards on here are so ridiculously low.

    Everyones idea of building a quality squad seems to stop once they have a squad thats capable of finishing with 75 points.

  37. daz

    “daz Barca have spent shitloads of cash over the last decade, are you taking the piss?”

    I was comparing them with Madrid, obviously they have spent loads compared to most teams. The only point I was making is the 2011 team cost less than ronaldo in transfer fees and over the last decade they have been by far the better side having spent less than real so utd can spend as much as they want does not guarantee anything as shown last season

  38. gambon

    “If we had paid £25 million for Le Coq we wouldn’t be having this debate.”

    So if we paid £25m for him that wouldve made Arteta, Flamini or Bielik 26 years old and better players?

    Our 4 man DM solution contains no players in the 25-30 YO range, and have 3 caps between them.

    No amount of cheerleading will alter them facts. Our 3rd choice DM is the only one that has ever been capped.

    Im sure in some peoples world that is competitive.

  39. gambon

    daz

    People have fallen out of aircraft at 10,000 feet before and survived, so by your logic you wouldnt be worried if your parachute failed to open?

  40. underrated Coq

    ” This is where Coquelin falls short. For all his defensive capability – which is considerable – his unwillingness to receive the ball under pressure is hugely restrictive and can prove costly in big games. ”

    You can’t be serious James Wilson, surely ? Coquelin is a weak-link in big games you say? Then how do you explain the fact that we have not lost a single big game since he started playing DM for us? He was instrumental in our away victories at the Etihad and Old Trafford.

  41. leon

    its very good post, the thing coq isthat he is an offensive player at all in fact he is a defender really and is not really great passer as in having huge amount of passing range but is exceptional at breaking play and is great tackler I see as 5th defender that my opinion. What this demonstrate is there are different types of dm and it depends on the system the team plays now stevie g played dm the few seasons did a pretty good job of alonso huge passing range good intercepting balls, flamani is not really a midfielder he is defender but is way past his best. patrick viera has complete different beast he could play any were in midfield dm attacking midfield on either wing just behind the striker him yaya toure are very similar that way. I feel that it all depends on the type of dm player you want, do you want a dm player who will, just sit in front of the defence and just act as a 5th defender or do want a player who has great passing range and make driving at defences

  42. Klauspoppe

    Schneiderlin has been consistent last 3 seasons. First season in PL when Southampton got promoted back, Schneiderlin had the best defensive stats in Europe in the first part of the season if I remember correctly, someone posted a link here back then.

    Pretty sure we were undefeated since Bayern away 12/13 as well. Not the first time we had a great run to end the season. Ramsey started to pick up form and exploded in the subsequent season. Hopefully same applies to Coquelin’s form as Wenger is a tosser and won’t sign competition.

  43. seg

    What if le Coq losses form? Not saying he will, because everybody expect him to keep improving, the reverse is also possible imo.

  44. Wallace

    gambon

    “That would be the multi trophy winning 28 year olds Mikel and Ramires?”

    yeah, without them i don’t see how Chelsea could have had the success they’ve had. absolutely vital!

  45. WengerEagle

    daz

    That’s because the most talented generation of players ever have come through La Masia in the last 20 years, the backbone of Barcelona’s team that dominated Europe in Pep’s time at the club were Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets and Puyol all of whom came through the academy.

    They are an exception, comparing us to them is silly.

  46. Klauspoppe

    “over the last decade they have been by far the better side having spent less than real so utd can spend as much as they want does not guarantee anything as shown last season”

    Signing Ronaldinho, Henry, Ibrahimovic, Dani Alves, Eto’o, Cesc, Pique and the ability to hold onto Xavi, Iniesta, Messi with their galacticos wages??

    A team that is part of a duopoly in a league that absorbs majority of tv funds?

  47. Stanlee

    ‘That would be the multi trophy winning 28 year olds Mikel and Ramires?And you are comparing the uncapped, unsuccessful, until 3 years ago attacking midfielder to these 2.’

    Mikel is capped for Nigeria. I am from Nigeria and I can tell u Arteta is better.

  48. Klauspoppe

    Bashing Ramires and Mikel to make a argument for our deadweights. This is fuc’king ridiculous now.

  49. daz

    Gambon

    No my logic is if we can’t match them pound for pound in the transfer market then we need to be smart about who we buy and if an option is available internally we should give it a chance, if we can’t get a benzema why spend 30+ on a benteke just to say look we have spent I would rather see if akpom can step up

  50. Marko

    Seems like ground hog day on here again with the Coquelin DM stuff. Look he’s done excellent and is an integral member of the squad mostly because the other players in that DM area are injury prone or completely shite. Do we need another player in there? Yes for me. Will we bring in someone? I still think so but who is another question. Imo there’s been too many links for us not to be interested in another midfielder. If you look objectively we only have Coquelin and Arteta there cause we’ll look to get rid of Flamini and considering the end of last season Arteta wasn’t getting a look in on the bench and Flamini wasn’t getting a look in from the bench suggests they’re both not trusted for me either physically or otherwise. In finishing up I believe squad number wise we’ll probably look at two more coming once Flamini is gone with a goalkeeper leaving on top of potentially Campbell and the Podolski and Diaby wages we’ve more than enough for two significant purchases

  51. gazzap

    I expect wenger’s thinking on this is if we buy a top class DM then Coq doesn’t play, and then possibly Coq leaves. I’m pretty sure I read an article that said Coq sought assurances from Wenger about the number of games he would play before he signed his contract. So wenger would be thinking I can only bring in another midfielder if I could potentially play him with Coq.

    But I reject the too many midfielders notion especially as Ox has been classified there as a central mid, which I don’t think is his strongest position. He is better out wide (see against Man City away).
    Arteta and Flam are just not options for me and I am disappointed Arteta has been given another year.
    Wilshere, Santi, Ramsey and Coq are our central midfield. 4 players for 3 positions – hardly overstocked. Rosicky is the cover while Zalalem and Bielek and kids who will probably need a loan before seriously challenging for a place.
    It’s not a terrible midfield at all but as others say if Coq gets an injury suddenly it looks a lot weaker.

  52. Klauspoppe

    “Mikel is capped for Nigeria. I am from Nigeria and I can tell u Arteta is better.”

    So you watch every game Mikel plays for Chelsea? Not talking about how he plays for NT as National Team performance is insignificant in any context.

  53. London gunner

    This article is just there to be controversial. It has no real merit in essence it’s an embarrassment to sporting journalism.

    The article fails to acknowledge that Coq isn’t the finished product that he is still evolving and improving.

    It also makes unfounded assumptions that Ramsey and Coq won’t work in the middle aka leaving is unbalanced despite there being no proof of this and no proof supplied.

    He then also fails by mentioning players like Xavi aloNso and Matic and saying because Coq doesn’t have the same skill set he can’t and wont be a success at the top level, but doesn’t acknowledge makele’s influence on Real Madrids and Chelsea’s success.

    The most embarrassing piece of the article is claiming an arteta mark2 as our savour, and claiming that he wouldn’t be a liability like Coq. Despite the fact arteta even before he lost his legs was a sham defensively. Losing the ball at the worst times and doing needless fouls.

  54. daz

    “They are an exception, comparing us to them is silly.”

    I know that’s why I didn’t compare them to us I compared them to Madrid

  55. WengerEagle

    In Pep’s time at Barcelona they spent roughly €340 million.

    That’s a monstrous amount to have spent in a 3 year period.

    What you failed to mention when you said their starting line-up that day only cost €85 million is that their bench probably cost close to €100 million.

  56. Gooner63

    I think the issue is not with Coquelins attacking ability, its more about receiving the ball and distribution – plus he does have lapses in games, where he ball watches a bit.

    But i think this is just down to experience – hes only done the role for part of one season, i think we have to see how he does this season to really see if he starts to look like a quality DM.

    I still dont see the point of Flamini – hes been bad for a long time, surely time to get rid of and to bring in someone who can cover for Coq – maybe Yacob from wba – would be cheap but has a few years in premiership playing the holding role.

  57. Wallace

    Ozrus

    “I wouldn’t be worried in the slightest if gambon’s parachute didn’t open.”

    that’s going to be tough to beat.

  58. Marko

    The debate isn’t Coquelin really at all in the slightest. I think practically all the fanbase love the lad and think highly of him it’s just you look past him and it looks so threadbare. Diaby is gone great and Flamini is probably off great. Leaves us Arteta who I wanted gone but I kind of get why he was kept on for a year. So realistically going into the season with Coquelin and Arteta will it be enough? No but with those two that’s kind of why I see someone else coming in. Number wise still need another body

  59. Stanlee

    ‘So you watch every game Mikel plays for Chelsea? Not talking about how he plays for NT as National Team performance is insignificant in any context.’

    If NT performance is ‘insignificant’, then how many times they’ve been capped shouldn’t be a point.

    We can’t freak out cos another team bought players. Damn

  60. gambon

    Marko

    I disagree…..number wise we have too many.

    Coquelin, Flamini, Arteta is one too many in numbers, and way too low in quality.

    As I said, we have 3 DMs, 4 if you include Bielik, and not a single on in their prime years (26-30) also only 3 caps between all of our DMs. (and them caps were all back over 6 years ago)

  61. WengerEagle

    Real Madrid spent roughly €460 million in that same time period.

    When you consider that €95 million of that was spent on Ronaldo who they needed to compete with Barcelona as they had Messi (who they got for free) there’s not a massive difference.

    Both ridiculously wealthy clubs that have always spent big.

  62. seg

    Messi doesn’t play well with the Argentina national team as well as he does for Barcelona, so would you say Pedro is better? how many caps does Arteta have, again?

  63. daz

    WE

    I think you have miss understood what I was getting at,
    I’m not trying to say barca are paupers and have over come all odds just saying by some people’s logic on here real Madrid would have been the far better side than them over the last decade based on their transfers

  64. Emiratesstroller

    London Gunner

    I think that you make a very valid point about Makele and I do think that Coquelin has actually the makings of that type of player.

    I think that the term defensive midfielder does not do Coquelin service. Frankly he could become with more experience the old fashioned ‘midfield general’.

    Most great teams had such a player.

    The argument for me is not whether Coquelin is good enough for first team, because I think that he is. The problem for me is that I don’t think that Arteta
    or Flamini are good enough to replace him in team if there is a need to do so.

    That is the dilemma that Wenger needs to address.

  65. WengerEagle

    And since 2012:

    Real Madrid have spent approx €360 million.

    Barcelona have spent approx €350 million.

    An absolute myth that Barcelona don’t spend big.

  66. MeGunner

    I don’t see why everyone thinks Coq is being criticized. Our signings should displace a starter. In that case, we upgrade both the first team and the squad. As far as am concerned, we need to get another DM that is better than Coq. Except we are not getting a DM at all. Imagine Coq as back up. It’s more reassuring than Flamini or Arteta as back up. See what we did with Cech. No one is really worried if Scz or Ospina have to be back up GK. It’s an upgrade in quality.

    We do NOT need for sign 5 or 6 players like United o Pool. Why can’t we go all out to get the 2 more quality signings we need? If Coq is really as good as everyone here says, then it’s good news. His performances should relegate our ‘new quality DM’ to get bench. Imho Arteta, Flamini should have been sold. And Per shouldn’t be starting for us anymore even if it means signing another CB

  67. tunnygriffboy

    Still think we’ll buy. But it will be top quality.

    Interesting to watch us tomorrow. Want to see Akpom, Crowley and the youngsters. Would like to see Wilshere playing deep as well.

  68. underrated Coq

    Marko

    I don’t think anybody is saying we are good enough in the DM department as it is. I myself hope that Flamini is moved out and another competent DM is being brought in.

    The problem I have with this article is the fabricated bs in it. Its fine if one is of the opinion that we should be looking to upgrade on Coq. But don’t make stuff up to support that argument.

    I mean, to claim that Coquelin is a weak-link in big games– when actually the guy was one of our top-performers in most of the big games he played in– is embarrassing.

  69. leon

    gamdon

    I have to agree with you there coq is starting to come good he 23 now and we have two has beens ok arteter against the lesser teams can do a job but coq injured what is he going to against the likes of chelsea and city both teams very powerful teams flamaini cant do anything period and young boy they bought last season dont much about him but he 17 has place in 1st ream needs to be out on loan

  70. Emiratesstroller

    tunnygriffboy

    I don’t think that the test for our young players is tomorrow, but rather for those who are likely to play this weekend.

    Frankly I would expect us to win against Singapore Select X1 even if we put out
    a bunch of 18 year olds.

  71. London gunner

    But why this absurd focus on Coq one of our players of the season?

    If we should be signing players to become first team players as another poster suggested why not sign a striker upgrade to displace giroud.

    As imo Coq is of the required standard for first team, but giroud is not! Though is a very good number 2!

  72. Marko

    People should realise too we’ve been looking or meaning to look for a midfielder the last couple years not just cause BC (before Coq) we had no real quality in that area but with Flamini and Arteta we had aging (shit) players coming to the end of their usefulness. Going into the season with just Coquelin and Arteta would be crazy and yes while Wenger is crazy enough to go into the season with just those two I’d be surprised if we did

  73. Willow Wilson

    Emirates
    “Arsenal’s weaknesses in recent season were that our midfield for all its ball
    playing skills lacked defensive ethic and far too often left our defence completely exposed.”

    This.

    Defending is a team game. Always has been and always will be. It’s about discipline and ‘in game management’ from the players. This improved over the season, not just with the return of players.

    This DM position is being over thought. Not saying it isn’t important, it is, especially against teams who may break on us – but its just one position in the team. It’s an insurance policy in many ways. Can Arteta do a good job for us in that position, yes of course he can. He is a fantastic reader of the game and that’s essential. He is also a very good footballer. In fact, it is a role that we can fulfil within the squad without too many problems. Against most teams, its not going to be a key position for us. Great to have someone sitting because it frees up the more attacking players but the rest of the team still have to know what to do when we haven’t got the ball. Can someone else come in and sit in that role against most teams in this league, yes. These are top players.

    Its the sum of all parts. Football is a team game, some fans want it to be all about individuals but it really isn’t. It’s about units.

    The most important thing needed is stability, which we have. The players know each other and have been playing together consistently. This means the team dynamic is stronger. It means we can practice team play and train together. Things like defending and pressing are team disciplines and something we have improved on. Again, you need to practice but there is nothing like match play. This is one of the key things worked on in the academies, through all ages.

    For me, the whole fitness thing is key. If we can keep our players fit, we will take some stopping. We dropped a silly number of points at the start and had some bizarre injuries, like the two Debuchy suffered and the Giroud one. With Debuchy back fit, Gabriel to come in, the improvement in Bellerin, Cech in goal – you would have to be mad not to see how that improves us. Theo is back after a season out, the Ox should be available, Jack is over that bad injury. Ozil will start the season fresh too. Arteta has missed almost a season, he’ll be fresh as a daisy. Seriously, what is there to be unhappy about? It is bizarre all this negativity. There seems to always be an unwillingness to recognise any positives on here.

  74. vicky

    First of all, Le Coq is hardly a cause of worry for us. He has done well and I think he will get better. If you jog your memory back, you will recall some of his first team appearances as a right back when Sagna was out injured. I vividly remember his performances. I always thought he was a good player although I had no clue that he would be a good DM. I thought as an utility player, he would be worth keeping in our squad. Anyways, back to the debate, he always looked very comfortable with the ball, dribbling it to get past players. Yeah, his passing was not top notch but you could see he was no Le Cattermole. He was decent with ball at his feet. I am sure he will go up a couple of notches.

    Besides, I would rather have a disciplined Coq than a potentially capable but “wandering all around the park” Alex Song. Can we get an upgrade over Coq ? We certainly can but some of the names doing around are from a different league such as Portugese league, La Liga. It’s likely they would take time to settle in. Given that we need to hit the ground running right from the first match, I would not really take a punt at this moment. Why fix something which ain’t broken.

    Although, I agree Arteta and Flamini are not good enough. If there is to have a debate regarding DM, it should be about Arteta and Flamini, not Coq. He is one of the last players I would worry about. Flamini,Arteta and Giroud as first choice ST are causes of worry, not Le Coq.

  75. karim

    London

    Agree but Makelele was far more technical than what you are implying, he used to play in a more advanced position where he was very good too.

  76. Relieable sauce

    I’d think Coq could very likely become a target for some rough tackles next season if he remains our only realistic DM option. He punches above his weight & seems very robust but over the course of a season he would be very lucky not to pick up a few knocks at least.
    As AFC fans we should know more than most this does happen in football.

  77. tunnygriffboy

    Interesting noting Barca and Madrid’s spending. Man u have spent £270 million pounds in the last 2 years with more to come. It ‘s ironic that their self entitled fans give City hell for buying their titles.

    One of their fans was writing despitehaving spent £70 million so far this window that they will by a WC centre back and striker and they’ll be sorted. They are a finacial juggernaut and we’ll have to be real smart in the way we compete with them in the future.

  78. qna

    Coq good. Arteta, Flamini bad. Wilshere/Ramsey/Cazorla not good enough defensively. A defrnsive monded CM like Vidal or Khedira might have complimented/covered what we have.

    Regardless if we buy to replace Coq or cover him, the main issue is Arteta and Flamini. These guys will weaken us to the point of braking anytime they are called upon this season.

  79. daz

    “Madrid have spent €300m more on transfers than Barcelona in the decade since the Beckham deal”

    I’m just going off what I’ve read like above, anyway it’s besides the point I’m just saying we can compete if were smart with the right purchases, it seems to me LVG is just buying as many players he can get his hands on and then think about how it will work after which is not smart imo last season he signed a bunch of players then ended up turning to the players who were already there

  80. Arsene's Nurse

    This article is revisionist drivel. You might as well have penned an article stating that Cech isn’t any good because he doesn’t take any corners.

    The reason Santi was played deeper was because of the injuries to Ramsey, Wilshere and Arteta whilst Ozil was fit. Santi is such a good player that he can play in multiple positions. He excelled in the position so he was preferred instead of a returning Wilshere or Ramsey.

  81. Samesong

    Can we talk about a CF?

    who would be your number one choice out there?

    Lazcette, Cavani, Benzema, Higuain, Me?

  82. qna

    Regarding our transfer budget. Two years ago when we paid €50m for ozil it set us back £42.5m. Today that is worth €60m. I assume that we still have payments to go on Ozil and Sanchez, so this current situation with the euro should actually lower our busgeted cost for these two by 20% ( at least for this years payments). So this should open our budget. Now is the time to raid europe and get an extra 20% value for money. Guys that use to cost €60m are now within out budget.

  83. Ozy

    LG, I think it’s just as premature for you to already hail Coquelin as first team quality as it is for people to write him off. Coquelin was immense for us during the second half of last season but we need to be careful not to elevate him to a status he has not earned yet. Half a season is not enough to merit overlooking bringing in a first team quality DM this tw.

    It’s also important to note that even though we may have a more pressing position to fill (i.e. a striker), it does not mean we should overlook any other position. I’m not sure why you turn into Coquelin’s knight in shining armor every time somebody even utters some disdain towards our DM situation. We need another DM – our backups are nowhere near good enough. Simple as that.

  84. Wallace

    Willow

    “This DM position is being over thought. Not saying it isn’t important, it is, especially against teams who may break on us – but its just one position in the team…..against most teams, its not going to be a key position for us.

    For me, the whole fitness thing is key. If we can keep our players fit, we will take some stopping.”

    nice post.

    this idea that we might blow a shot at the league because our back up DM isn’t up to speed….the team that wins the league will be the team that keeps it’s best players healthy for the longest time.

  85. jasongms

    I find it hilarious that most Arsenal fans are relying on a player thats only preformed for 6 months ( although admirably) to go on and be the catalyst for us winning the league .

    article is right on the money btw

    _________

    also agree with what youre intimating gambon

  86. Rocka

    Good article. I still love the Coq though.

    The midfield is unbalanced. There is one too many ballplayers, and one DM short. Really one of Ramsey, Wilshere or Cazorla should be sacrificed so that another DM can come in. Otherwise the midfield is just too crowded.

    Alternatively, both Arteta and Flamini should be let go and a replacement found. If Arteta is so valuable to the change room, then he should just become a coach.

  87. S Asoa

    While the debate is on Semantics , Wenger must be watching to see if he can sign NoOne and slither to the Kronker
    ” look Boss , saved all your penises ”
    And AFC passionate fans get fucked with them for another nail biting 4th Trofee .
    Wenger signed marque players Ozil and Sanchez under pressure from fans. So if you love your Club roll out da VOCABULARY of Wenger Out

  88. Goondawg

    Coq is good. I think he will do well next season, and start off in the same form he left it. However look at his tenacity and pressuring way he plays? Everyone here knows Wenger will overplay him to the point he breaks down and is unable to continue doggedly running around chasing and harrying. He will be in the red zone by december. Then we are fucked. We will end up playing Arteta or Flamini against one of the big boys and we will be spanked. This will happen.

  89. Gooner63

    Im more worried about the striker position than the DM – i doubt Alexis will have the same amazing season as last in terms of goals.

    So we have Giroud – who wastes too many chances, Welbeck who just doesnt look the part, Campbell who just isnt good enough and Akpom who is untested at the top level. Sorry but Theo is never going to be the next Henry either.

    That really doesnt look like a league winning strike force.

    Come on Wenger get a quality striker and cover for Coquelin and get rid of the deadwood.

    Its worrying when Charlie Austin is a better finisher than any of our out and out strikers.

  90. El Patron

    Before we sent Coq out on loans… when he was a younger player. he was very good at dribbling and forward passes. he was a box to box player. Not sure if you guys remember this. because I know arsenal fans of late have very short memories.

    As you can see towards the end of the campaign he started to show his passing and dribbling ability.

    I personally think Coq was just trying to keep things as simple as possible and try not to make any mistakes in order to cement his place and gain a little bit of cushion in case of future bad games. As we all know any simple mistake with the arsenal fans is cause for booing and vitriol on twitter.

    The more confident he becomes I think the better of a player we will see in Francis.

    watch this space.

  91. El Patron

    and the form that Jack wilshere ended the season…. he can play anywhere in that midfield… from DM (as he does for england) to box to box to left or right wing to CAM.

  92. Emiratesstroller

    Willow Wilson

    If you look at what I have written this morning on yesterday’s post I wrote just
    that in my attribution to our improvement.

    The catalyst of our improvement came with:
    1. Change of Goalkeeper
    2.Stable Back Line.
    3.Inclusion of Coquelin
    4.Cazorla playing as deep lying Central Midfielder
    5.All players in team expected to track back when ball lost.
    6.Settled team with few changes.
    7.Fewer injuries requiring us to make changes.

    However, Coquelin’s real asset value is that he is a disciplined player with excellent positional sense and that ensured that the opposition were less likely
    to conterattack at pace against an exposed back line.

  93. James

    This is complete shite! Coq is more than capable so stop going on! We have the best squad we have had in years and yet people like yourself keep on moaning. Shut the fuck up and get behind the team.

  94. Goondawg

    “@Muzziozcan Please favourite if arsenal are in for one of these 5 players Benzema,Lacazette,Vidal,Draxler,Callejon thanks!”

    And favourite it he did.

  95. bob

    who gives a crap about the new away shirt. wenger dont want to speend so why should fans speend money buyin the new away shirt

  96. karim

    Please someone, tell me the story about the guy being arrested at Camden Road for charging his I phone on the train is a fake one …

  97. Samesong

    Lacazette is the only striker I want to see at Arsenal this summer…. the boy is deadly….so so deadly.

    El

    I’ll be brutally honest never seen the boy play.

    Does he have physical attributes, pace etc?? I so want a forward with Pace.

  98. daz

    “Wenger has told confidants that, if he cannot land Benzema, he is prepared to continue with Olivier Giroud as the club’s main striker next season, with Sanchez and Theo Walcott also able to play as central strikers. “

  99. DM

    Karim

    As always the media sensationalise it far more than it deserves. He was reprimanded for using an electric socket that clearly said “not for public use”, they basically warned him then let him go, but he got all mouthy/aggressive and they ended up arresting him.