Position : Central Midfield
Nation : France
2011/2012 Appearances : 17 (4 as sub)
Francis Coquelin has quickly emerged as a bright talent for the future, in only his first full season with Arsenal. After some league cup appearances from 2008 upto 2010, he was loaned to French club Lorient, to continue his football education. He impressed there, in 25 appearances, and now is quickly making an impression in the Premier League as well.
He was thrown to the lions immediately. His first game was in the 8-2 drubbing at Old Trafford, and despite some decent play in midfield, for a 20 year old debutant, he was replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the 62nd minute. He would next appear as a sub for Frimpong in the 1-0 win over Swansea.
He played all 3 of Arsenal’s Carling Cup games, 3-1 and 2-1 wins over Shrewsbury and Bolton respectively. He was particularly impressive against Manchester City, forming a fine partnership with Emmanuel Frimpong, as they kept City’s expensive midfield at bay for large parts of the game.
In the Premier League, Coquelin started in the 2-1 loss at Sp*rs, and put in a fine performance. He looked comfortable in his passing and tackles, and was voted as Arsenal.com’s Man of the Match.
After coming on a sub against Wigan, he would make his Champions League debut against Olympiakos and then start at right-back against Aston Villa, in place of the injured Bacary Sagna and Carl Jenkinson, and put in good shift. Arsenal would win 2-1. Injury concerns mounted for the Gunners and Coquelin put in another good shift, this time at left-back against QPR as a sub, and Fulham, despite being against Bryan Ruiz. Arsenal, however lost 2-1.
He started at right-back in the FA Cup 3rd round tie against Leeds. However, he pulled his hamstring and had to be withdrawn, to be replaced by the young Nico Yennaris. He again played at right-back in the 3-2 win over Aston Villa.
The French midfielder was also impressive in the 7-1 mauling of Blackburn, assisting for van Persie’s 3rd goal on the evening. His season seemed to come to an abrupt end when he again strained his hamstring in the 2-0 FA Cup loss to Sunderland, after playing only 10 minutes.
He would only return 3 months later as a sub for Bacary Sagna, in a 3-3 draw with Norwich City. He quickly demonstrated his pace and tenacity, as Arsenal pushed from going 2-1 down to leading 3-2 at one point. He started the final league game of the season playing alongside Alex Song in midfield, as Arsenal won 3-2 to secure Champions League football for next season.
Here are some features of Francis Coquelin‘s game.
1. Midfield Play
Coquelin is a polished midfielder and looks matured well beyond his years. He also has a very good work rate, and he seems to blend in easily with Arsenal’s style of play. His tackling is decisive and clean, and he could be a very useful midfielder in the future for the Gunners.
What sets Coquelin apart is his versatility, and the willingness to be a team player. He has readily played at left-back and right-back this season, and put in good shifts.
SUMMARY AND RATING
In only his first season in the Premier League, Coquelin is already tipped to be the future of Arsenal’s midfield, alongside players like Wilshere, Ramsey, Frimpong and Oxlade-Chamberlain. He gets a rating of 7.5.