With Burnley put to the sword, The Arsenal are the form side in the EPL.
They have secured 8 victories on the bounce & amassed 39 points from a possible 45 post Christmas.
Not too bad really, considering The Arsenal were quoted as the outsiders for the top 4 by pretty much every pundit in August & the unfaithful were spouting the same tune in early December.
So what has changed?
In December his inclusion was a necessity due to injury.
Now in April his inclusion is a necessity due to ability.
Since 28th December (vs West Ham) Le Coq has played 1,258 of a possible 1,260 minutes & the change in fortune ain’t no coincidence.
Most see Le Coq as the defensive midfielder we were missing. Someone to destroy the opposition attacks and then sit back & watch the flair players on front of him do all the flash stuff in front of him.
His stats back up his ability to undertake this role, especially when compared to the central midfielders of the rest of the top 4.
He holds the space in front of the back four, marshals & controls it with confidence & steel which we have missed since Manu/Paddy/Gilberto.
On average he wins more tackles & completes more interceptions & blocks than the more established CMs at the Chavs & tup north and is a gnats away from them in pass completion.
A report on ESPN explained this brilliantly in their round up of Saturday game;
‘The space inhabited by Francis Coquelin was where Burnley’s counterattacks went to die’
But I disagree with all this and believe he’s much more than just all that.
I believe the difference is;
Le Coq & ‘Ses Couilles!’ (Look it up)
You see, Franny’s first thought is ‘kick that fu….’ sorry’stop the opposition’, as it should be, given his role in the team, but, his second instinct is to start the attack, get the team on the front foot, pass the ball forward.
So many ‘defensive’ midfielders, win the ball, pass it 2 yards and wait.
Le Coq is looking to take it to the opposition, play the pivotal pass, get the forward momentum started, play the Quarterback role. Which is what is needed these days to balance the team, given the array of attacking talent we have, waiting for that initial pass.
His pass stats, back this up; averaging 29 forward & 13 backward passes a game.
If you look at his ‘attacking’ influence in recent games, his was the key pass to Alexis that set up the chain of events that led to Rambo scoring against Burnley & similarly against Liverpool, it was Le Coq’s incisive pass that lead to Özil’s foul & goal.
Coquelin is the fulcrum, the player who plays the central role in the midfield engine, the player who the midfield revolves around.
Arsene summed up his contribution perfectly;
‘First of all he’s shown his individual quality winning the ball and passing it quickly, and he’s very strong in the challenges. He also contributes to the balance of the team and that’s very difficult to measure.’
So, I’m gonna make a big call.
The PFA players player of the year is given to the player who is adjudged to have been the best player in English Football. In my opinion that is the player who has had the most impact on his team’s performance.
In my mind that is Francis Coquelin, because before his upturn, Arsenal were top 4 at best, now, we are on the verge of greatness and for that reason he should, as a minimum, be in the PFA team of the year.