I’m the kind of writer who ‘jumps’ into conclusion, probably due to the desire to deliver and share my thoughts, while an observation is still fresh and there to be picked on. This perhaps hastily drives me to inferences that sometimes need polishing ‘here and there’. But make no mistake, I ultimately get the job done and end up being fulfilled.Putting this in the context of this piece, I am Francis Coquelin.
In his three months in the side, the Frenchman’s enthusiasm has been second to none and it has certainly rubbed off on a couple of teammates who needed company.
However, the game could get more interesting for le Coq to read ’cause that urge to deliver and mop up when the ball is there to be won can be fine tuned into something more advanced. But this could only happen if he remains a key figure in the side beyond this season.
Since his introduction into the team, the ex French U21 International has taken the mantle of galvanizing everyone around him, not even the slightest bit fazed about the World Cup winners and technical experts he met since his return from Charlton. That right there is a leadership quality that’s got to remain in the team.
With that in mind and judging by Arsene Wenger’s history, Coquelin should have reasons to be optimistic about the future. The 65-year old has a track record of repaying faith with more responsibility and I feel the 23-year old would relish a bigger role, as a box to box midfielder.
The benefits are almost endless, but most importantly, it affords Arsene the opportunity to still bring in another screener, to partner and consolidate the French man (especially in the big games), in a manner similar to the Mertesacker-Koscielny partnership. Yes, this of course further complicates the attacking midfield & forward line selections but the team has taken a new shape this year and the best way to maintain the momentum is to further strengthen those who have heavily contributed to the system’s success.
Don’t get me wrong, Coquelin has his shortcomings. However, issues such as his occasional rush of blood, lack of height, and often feeble man-marking can be managed better in central midfield. In the same vein, the midfielder’s tenacity, aggression, composure and intelligence almost certainly guarantees him preeminence higher up the pitch. (The No,8 Clive Palmer was seeking in this piece?)
Winning the ball in advanced areas and making the right choices in possession are two key components to improving any team’s system. You get exactly that if a player like Coquelin is right in the pressing mix. It doesn’t end there. Like most intelligent box to box midfielders, he’s got a good burst on the ball and evades his markers off it. When you also consider the deceptive vision he’s also got, it’s not too optimistic to envisage him becoming the complete midfield package.
“I think there’s much more to come from him as well. He’s a great defensive midfielder, but going forward he was always a threat in the youth team. I think he can score goals too.” Jack Wilshere on Coquelin.
Enhancing the French core.
Now the space Coquelin could vacate in front of the back four can be filled by a number of signings. Ironically, his country seems to be producing top defensive midfielders every year and we’ll probably face one or two at Monaco. The options are mouthwatering but the most important attribute is that of a calm presence, even more satisfying than Le Coq. It needs to be someone who improves the communication in front of the back four while still making up for the occasional rashness ahead of him. Having Coquelin playing next to an anchor also gives such a new signing a degree of protection and reduces the pressure that comes with executing a perfect job in front of the back four. Both would also certainly be rotated when the need arises.
With Arsenal’s French bloc looking the part and Arsene’s affinity with Francophile midfielders, the Gunners could follow up Coquelin’s recent deal with an even better one that not only enhances the currently unplayable French core, but also replaces the almost inevitable French departures of Mathieu Flamini and Abou Diaby.
Your move, Arsene.
NB: keep calm, my next piece would likely focus on the implication this approach would have on the quartet of Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil.
There’s always a way out to be figured, at Arsenal.