Coquelin is the weak link. Why hasn’t Wenger dealt with this?

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Morning – I’m ill, grumpy and have been in the office since 6.30am.

If you’re hoping that this match review will brighten your mood, then either stop reading; or continue in preparedness for disappointment. Without any context, a point at home to Liverpool is fine, but football does not operate in a vacuum – each game and how it’s retrospectively assessed falls into the wider landscape of the league, the form of the team and recent results.

Had we beaten West Ham on the opening day, our points tally would be a relatively healthy 7, but as it is, we are already lagging behind. Going into the game, this felt very much like a must-win, which seems ridiculous at this stage of the campaign, but as we saw last year – a slow start can negate from a superb second half to the season.

In terms of line-up, the surprise(s) came at centre-half with Chambers and Gabriel replacing the injured Koscielny and poorly Mertesacker, who I understand was suffering from a bout of scurvy. I would imagine this news would provide a boost to the Liverpool dressing room, particularly Benteke who would no doubt fancy his chances against a rookie playing with an unfamiliar partner.

As it was, our back four looked shaky from the get-go. Within 5 minutes, they had struck the woodwork when Coutinho really should have finished Benteke’s cut back. This seemed to shock us into life, as we began to attack with more verve and intent, culminating in Ramsey’s perfectly timed run being found by Santi and the Welshman finishing unerringly. To my, and all and sundry’s, bemusement the linesman incorrectly flagged for offside – a bafflingly poor call. I know it’s quick and fine margins, etc, but too many of these mistakes happen. It’s long time that the FA face up to the fact that goal line technology is readily available, it wouldn’t halt the momentum of the game and it would do away with the needless contention. Mr Luddite at the pub will doubtless say “it’s all part of the game”, but if that’s the case, it’s an element I’d happily do away with. Mr Luddite’s mate would then chip in that “things balance out over the course of a season” – they patently don’t.

The disallowed goal seemed to blow the wind out of sails completely, with Liverpool getting in behind our back four with alarming ease. Benteke was besting Chambers in the air and was turning him far too easily when the ball was played to feet. The most frustrating element of this from the stand was seeing events unfold, but Chambers’ team mates failing to react. Akin Swansea away last season, I felt Chambers was hung out to dry somewhat. He was very poor in that first half and looked nervous, which is excusable given the circumstances; but the lack of intelligence and nous from our midfielders was very poor indeed. Coquelin should have seen that Chambers was struggling with the long ball and taken responsibility by positioning himself directly in front of Benteke, allowing Chambers to cover goal side. As it was, we let Benteke have free reign to attack Chambers and he did it with relish. In addition, I felt Gabriel was too far away from his central defensive partner and should have sat tighter to him to pre-empt errors from Chambers.

By half time, we had our goal keeper to thank for holding parity, by virtue of two world class saves. Both saves were different, but both were spectacular – the first diving at the feet of Benteke to prevent a simple tap in; the second a sprawling, fingertip save to divert Coutinho’s curler onto the upright. My criticism of Ospina was always that he failed to make the type of save that gained you points, whereas Cech certainly earned his corn last night. He was superb all evening, commanding his box and adding a semblance of assurance, which was sorely lacking at times.

Whilst Chambers was singled out for criticism – he was really, really bad – it diverted from the malaise and amateurish performance from both Santi and Coquelin in midfield. Despite having a lot of possession, there was no incisiveness to our passing and it certainly felt as if we gave the ball away with alarming regularity. Defensively, Santi was caught too far up the pitch regularly, allowing their midfielders to bypass Coquelin and have a straight run at our defence. I know I sound like the most shattered of broken records, but Coquelin’s inability to receive the ball deep under pressure caused us a lot of problems last night too. It’s no coincidence that Chambers looked far more assured with the ball in the second half when Santi sat deeper when we had possession, acting as first receiver from the defence and providing a safe out ball. Clearly it’s a problem Wenger recognizes, given his only change at the break was to play Coquelin in a far more advanced role – a tacit acknowledgement of his limitations.

The second half was far better, it must be said. We retained the ball far better we looked comfortable at the back. I believe this was a combination of the swap in midfield, along with Liverpool playing more defensively, seemingly happy for a point. On that note, referee’s failure to book goalkeepers earlier in a match for time wasting is quite bizarre – it never seems to happen before the hour mark, regardless of how many times it happens before that point. It feels as if time wasting in first half is fine, but becomes bookable after a certain time in the game.

We certainly created more chances, with Mignolet saving from Ramsey and Alexis hitting the post when he really should have scored. I thought both Ozil and Ramsey were superb in the second half, taking the game to Liverpool and constantly trying to make things happen. I do feel Ramsey can be effective from the right, but I still can’t accept playing our best midfielder out of position to accommodate a sub-par defensive midfielder – it feels completely counter-intuitive. In Ramsey we have one of the league’s most complete midfielders, yet we’re wasting him. In addition, I do feel we missed a trick by not having more of a go at Gomez – he looks a talent but is an inexperienced, right footed centre half playing left back – it’s a shame Oxlade didn’t have more minutes to run at him.

Giroud has also come in for criticism and whilst he was lacklustre in the first half, I thought he improved in the second. He really should have had a penalty when he was pulled down on the turn in the box. He managed to get a fairly tame shot away and that, along with a lack of appeal, seems to have done for the referee. Giroud’s link up play tends to be intelligent and most of what he does is decent. Unfortunately his main issue is one that is emblematic of our side – a lack of clinical finishing, illustrated by the five (?) home games we have now failed to score in. Something in that final third isn’t right, but I feel it’s purely related to finishing chances, rather than creating them. With the likes of Ozil, Santi and Alexis, we regularly break through defensive lines, but all too often we fail to take our chances. I have no idea what the answer is, but if we’re serious about challenging for the title, then it needs urgent attention. It isn’t an issue with early season rustiness either – it’s a hangover from last term.

I’ll leave you to ponder that and leave it there. Most frustratingly, we should have won this game – we weren’t particularly good, but were it not for an incorrect call, we’d likely have the 3 points.

Until next time x

Give me a follow on Twitter @BeardofPires



503 Responses to “Coquelin is the weak link. Why hasn’t Wenger dealt with this?”

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  1. champagne charlie


    Could’ve started the league campaign with a front three of:


    That has all the pace, trickery, guile, technique, and finishing ability imaginable. Instead we have Giroud and Chambo, neither of which are producing the end product worthy of being a starter in a title challenging side.

  2. jwl

    I thought Wenger might retire early because he said that he was seriously thinking about retiring last summer before he decided to sign again.

    And I also wonder about the large pot of money we seem to building up, is that to finance purchase of two or three world class players our new manager would demand?

  3. Sam


    Axel Witsel is not Xavi but will be good addition to our squad

    He’ll bring competition for Coq n even Ramsey n Cazorla

  4. RJM

    So Wenger says he wont buy anymore midfielders? So when Coq gets injured/susp/legs drop off from exhaustion what then? Fuckn Arteta on his last legs……. fuck off Wenger! Here we go again, starting every season fuckn short!

    He’s got the whole midfield balance wrong! 3 players, all very good but all wanting to play the same pos – Ozil/Ramsay/Santi and you could even add Jack to that n’all!

    Is he going to panic buy another striker then or will we get the Danny Welbeck’s coming back so I have ze qualiteee?!!

    In the big games I’d fuck Giroud off, play Sanchez up front with Wally interchanging with him (like the FA Cup final). I wouldn’t put Wally on with 15mins to go when the opposition are defending deep with 2 banks of 4 and 5. You know he won’t be effective! Should be the other way round with Giroud coming on in that situation..

  5. Redtruth


    You say Coquelin is decent well i say Cech is average, Ramsey, Walcott, the Ox, Wilshere are high quality county players, Koscielny is decent but vastly overrated, Per another decent player, Ozil not a top player , Giroud a decent player, Cazorla just above average and Sanchez a very good player.

    The whole team is nothing more than average/good.

  6. Redtruth

    This is how thick chumpagne is, he’s promoted DM as the most important position on the field vital and above the key positions that win you titles like Defenders and attacking Midfielders and Forwards lol lol

    Top boy keep trolling lol

  7. Redtruth

    If you had top quality players in all areas of the team the need for this mythical technically gifted DM wouldn’t arise because as we all know DM’s are basically just glorified defenders who happen to be put in Midfield as an extra body to shield the defence.

  8. Follow the money

    The problem we face is that even if Wenger somehow wakes up and miraculously acknowledges our weaknesses he would rather see us crash and burn and blame injuries than admit he was wrong and Neville and the fans were right. He should have been sacked in 2008 when all we needed was one player to replace Denilson. Van Bommel was available for 11 million but Wenger did nothing.

  9. London gunner

    James Wilson

    Your opinions on coquelin are absurd. You basically blame coquelin for the draw despite the fact he was one of our best performers and along with Cech saved us numerous times.

    You are so biased you don’t even mention the countless tackles and his top notch passing.

    You glaze over every other players flaws to just focus on coquelin.

    I hope to never waste my time reading any of the drivel you write again.

    Can I have those 2 minutes back?

  10. Redtruth


    Gilberto was bambi on ice and couldn’t trap a bag of cement but Arsenal got away with it because they had skilled technicians in the side like Bergkamp, Ljungberg, Pires and Henry.

    Gilberto is this current Arsenal side would be a disaster

  11. Sam

    Coqueling is now the heart of our Midfield, like a fifth defender for Arsenal Fc.
    All your dream players can all f*ck off, Gonalons, Kondogbia, Martinez, schneirderlin They should all f*ck off.
    Coquelin even has more skill than most team leaders we’ve seen in the past like Roy Keane or Didier Deschamps. If Wenger is smart he will make Coquelin Captain n build a team of good players around him.

    Oh Sergio Busquet, that F*cking diving Cheat can f*ck off too. I don’t want him in our team anyway.

  12. Honest Bill

    I’m afraid it’s Ramsey who is the elephant in the room. Well, him and Giroud. They are the ones who kill any fluidity in our game. Both overcomplicate things by constantly trying to do fancy first-time flicks. Neither of them has much football intelligence.

    Wenger is the real culprit though. He’s the one who should have told them to cut it out. But he lets them do it.

    We really just need a new manager. This current squad isn’t the greatest but they could and should be doing much better.

  13. Sam

    Yeah I know,

    most grovers here milk on that barca cunt busquets, not me
    I don’t want that cheating cunt in arsenal shirt
    We have Coq

    real man in the middle

  14. jasongms

    Totally correct assertion regarding coq , James .. Most people especially fans can’t see the forest for the trees , Great read keep them coming .

    ___________________New DM (Bender or Krychowiak )

    New Rm (Gotze)_____ Ozil_______Alexis


    Don’t think we’ll be able to realistically get in a WC striker . Maybe go in for Lacazette , the guy is untested but I really like him ( not that that means anything) and think he has the potential to be a real star.
    Note to self : he hasn’t scored in three games.

    Like every other fan , one has to wonder what Arsene’s modus operandi is . Does he even know ? Inertia and the feeling that another season where the potential to do great things has been hamstrung by our once great leader !!

  15. Relieable Sauce

    Hands up who said we had one of the best midfields in the league or two excellent starting 11s… :-[

    Finally, the curtain may be slipping on the wizard of Arsenal.

  16. Sam

    Gonalons is super in the french league but he’s average.
    If he tries to venture out of France he will be found out just like M’villa n Capoue.
    The only French DM capable of replacing Coq is Pogba

  17. champagnes charlie


    Pogba a DM? I’d just quit, with every word you make yourself out to be a bigger clueless tit.

    Gonalons is top drawer. Period. It’s clear by watching him, and even his stats back this up. This ‘only good in France’ nonsense is all your ignorance spluttering out at once.

  18. Sam

    Dude Pogba can play DM
    Arteta is one of our DM n not even a defensive player,
    Even Wilshere can play the role if he stops lying on the floor moaning to the ref

  19. Sam

    If you read Redtruth posts you might learn something
    All these slow a$$ DMs are not longer required. Coquelin will survive coz of his athleticism. Gonalons will fail here n get shipped to small team

  20. Wallace

    linked to Dinamo Moscow’s Aleksander Kokorin. might be nothing in it, but seems a far more likely Wenger signing – young(24) and improving – than some of the strikers mentioned.

  21. daz

    Yeah just read that about kokorin would be underwhelming if we signed him but not surprising, I would be willing to see what he can do before Flipping out though. Apparently Jacob B of Dortmund has become available

  22. underrated Coq

    Still nothing concrete about any player being brought in. Shocking stuff this. The more I think about how abysmal this window has been, the more I realize that G.Neville was perhaps spot on re his assessment of Wenger’s attitude.

    Starting to get the feeling this season will be one where the levels of frustration around the club reach a tipping point and majority of fans turn against Wenger. Excuses won’t work anymore. more and more people realize that its Wenger that is holding back Arsenal football club.

  23. Thank you and goodnight

    Wenger changed the nature of the game in England but he is no tactician. Players from the golden era of the late 1990s and early 2000s say broadly the same thing about their former manager, something former Arsenal defender Tony Adams articulates perfectly: “He’s a physiologist rather than a coach. He made us do things faster than before. Faster than the opposition.”

    Those early Wenger sides allied pace and supreme skill to power. They revolutionised the game and racked up three titles and four FA Cups in nine years. In the short term it was beautiful. Then, the likes of Sam Allardyce, who was still at Bolton, worked out that it was possible to nullify the skill by matching the pace and power. Arsenal found themselves facing their evil twin, an ugly mirror image that could overpower them by brute force. The English game got faster and less enticing and Wenger had no Plan B. Except, of course, to pack the side with talent. Under-coached, unfocused talent.
    Meanwhile, many players — Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere among them — have not improved as much as expected under Wenger’s tutelage. Perhaps this is the season players like these will make the leap to the next level. The phrase “this will be their year” comes around like a hardy perennial for some of this squad.

    It’s too simplistic to believe a venture into the transfer market will make the difference. Neither Mesut Ozil nor Alexis Sanchez proved to be the panacea for Arsenal’s problems. Should Wenger have outbid Manchester United for Morgan Schneiderlin? Could he try to gazump Chelsea and make Everton an offer they can’t refuse for John Stones to anchor the defence for a decade? It would make little difference. The malaise is deeper than that.

    Some will scoff. What malaise? Two FA Cup wins in the past two years and Champions League participation every season would satisfy most clubs. Part of the problem is that we expect more from Wenger. He is, by almost any standards, up with the great managers of the game. His impact on the Premier League was profound. Yet the harsh truth is that three titles seems scant reward for a man of his gifts. It is 11 years since Arsenal were last crowned champions. That is far too long.

    Some will claim he has been financially hamstrung by the move from Highbury to the Emirates in 2006 but that excuse is no longer valid. Successive TV deals have given Arsenal a fiscal firepower few can match. Aside from that, Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson won titles and a Champions League on a tighter budget and with a worse squad than the Frenchman’s,

    It’s hard to see Arsenal winning the Premier League this year. Or indeed any year under Wenger. The questions will keep coming and the Wenger hokey-pokey with its mood swings may well define the final years of his career.

    How true is this article. If only the akb’s woke up we could be rid of le fraud

  24. GoonerDNA

    We’ll probably beat Newcastle and the whole Neville/Wenger debate will be forgotten.

    Most fans are just happy with us winning the manority of our games and fan frustration is dicatated weekly depending on the previous week’s result. Sad but true

  25. daz

    What people need to realise is the percentage of fans who are casual and just go along to the games for a fun time greatly out number the type of fan who comes on sites like this one AKBs and WOBs are a very small percentage of the fan base so to think AKBs changing there tune would make a difference is naive

  26. Biggus


    Agree. Read the article as well and it was so on point that it explains a lot about our manager. As much as he professes the love of the beautiful game, he seems more intrigued by the physics of it hence the constant data analysis to assess players.

    Seems the other part of the game (tactics) is very lacking in his approach. He has mentioned in the past that the ideal team would be where every player can interchange positions which is a view started by one of the Brazilian greats; don’t remember his name.

    Most of the players we bring in seem to play with a freedom that is a bit too flexible for my liking. It works against lower teams as the skills sets in but against top teams with organised system and tactics, we struggle.

    Unfortunately due to the stigma surrounding him at Arsenal, his assistants are not able to influence this aspect of the game with him.

    Seeing him in the dug out complaining to Bould shows a man that is being let down by the science of it all.

  27. Thank you and goodnight


    Totally agree with you. Arsenal under wenger unfortunately are very easy to play against.

  28. Wallace

    interesting piece by Honigstein on Tuchel’s impact –

    “There’s no question, however, that Tuchel has taken the Klopp blueprint –strong pressing, counter-pressing, constant movement, many high-tempo sprints – and given it an extra dimension, courtesy of better possession play. Whereas the new breed of German coaches focus on playing “against the ball”, Tuchel – an avowed Pep Guardiola fan – wants complete domination with and without the ball.

    He has described Guardiola’s Barça as the “non-plus-ultra” and spent two evenings talking football with the Catalan coach in a bar and restaurant in Munich….Tuchel sees a more patient, controlled buildup as a necessary measure to allow rest periods on the ball and also as the key to succeed against defensive sides. Klopp’s up and down madness has begun to give way to a more varied tempo, with pace being built up in the final third, through positional switches and direct combinations.”

  29. Klauspoppe

    ““Maybe nobody had watched the training at Mainz before,” he wondered – but Dortmund had been in desperate need of these kind of small but important readjustments after seven years under Jürgen Klopp. For all the club’s bad luck with injuries and poor finishing, the set-up had outlived itself.”

    We need changes, doesn’t have to be drastic to the setup…just a new manager that can bring in the new adjustments.

    Wenger is destroying his own legacy.

  30. wenker-wanger

    AT LAST… we have support from pundits and journos!
    For years Wenger has been untouchable for criticism, many people in the game showing resoect befitting a king that has gone insane but carries a feeling of historical power. Many in the game want him to remain; simply so that the arsenal threat is nullified. Many reaslise arsenal is potentially the biggest of sleeping giants.
    It wont be long before the plastic coach walks. Wenger is now under the biggest scrutiny he has ever known at arsenal and we have to thank Gary Neville for that. Never thought i would feel so much kinship for one of our “old-enemies”
    I also urge anyone that hasnt yet heard the arsenal fan from nottinghams rant to chack it out. Its got a link on here somewhere, but find it on “arsenal fan destroys wenger and giroud”

  31. Relieable Sauce

    Interesting indeed.

    – For all the club’s bad luck with injuries & poor finishing, the set-up had outlived itself.

  32. Biggus

    The greatest threat to intelligence or wisdom is to ignore it’s constant evolution.

    Many times Wenger mentions his experience and knowledge in the game to ‘shut’ people up. He does have knowledge and experience but like a king drenched in his own past battle stories, he’s trapped in a cycle of what used to be.

    He helped change the game in the premier league but with time he got consumed with the tools that helped him change the game rather than the game itself. Many managers change assistants especially in times of lack of success but Wenger wanted stability even when things were not right.

    We support him as a manager but we should not over look the missed opportunities over the years based on his sole view of how the game should be. Football does not belong to a single train of thought. There are different ways to play the game, different interpretations of the game and these continue to evolve and yield other concepts; it’s the cycle of life.

    Alex Ferguson changed managers during his tenure either due to them getting jobs elsewhere or to freshen his perspective. He made sure he stayed closer to the biggest threat to his reign and not isolate himself. No doubt he studied Mourninho’s approach and possibly conferred with his internal team how to counter it hence his success even with Mourinho being around.

    Wenger on the other hand expected to be revered even though he hasn’t been doing godlike things for some time. Alas, the constant praise from the press and fans alike (you see in England, sport success is few and far in between) made him feel untouchable.

  33. goonerboy

    No, this is rubbish-Coquelin is absolutely not a weak link- it is a myth that he can’t play under pressure. Not when Ramsey and Ozil are so wasteful of possession won by Coquelin.
    How can you blame Coquelin for Bellerin and Chambers losing defensive discipline and concentration.