Feb 22

Could Coquelin restore Arsenal’s energy and prestige?

In general terms, I consider the midfield to be where Arsenal are chiefly causing the team’s most damage to their own current form. The defence look visibly shaken by the lack of cover they receive, and the forward line are not getting the chances they were getting earlier on in the season. 

Granted, a ‘team’ is meant to be exactly that – based on teamwork. This is the clear caveat to my point.. It shouldn’t be the case that one area of the pitch is allowed to fail so emphatically. It should be a symbiotic organism built on common understanding and strong communication, where players adapt and overcome problems, threats or defeats. The forward line need to do more, particularly Walcott and Arshavin when they play. Spaces should be covered and runners need to be followed. In a 4-3-3 formation, the inherent weakness of the formation is if the team try to play wide they will lack density in the centre and vice-versa when the ball is narrow, unless they have exceptional sprinters with fantastic cardiovascular power like Dani Alves. 

Furthermore, I also accept several anomalies like Johan Djourou – a player that has consistently disappointed, and succeeded in brief periods of warm weather and safe football. Djourou should not be playing for Arsenal. He lacks basic concentration and despite having the perfect physique, technical ability, strength (supposedly the strongest man in the entire squad) and stature; he simply has the wrong attitude and personality to handle the role. I do not blame the midfield for his foolish play, but at the same time a more assured midfield would steady his unreliable feet.

The fact remains that Alex Song is an adventurous, marauding midfielder with an eye for a pass who is wasted sitting to deep too often. The rotational process Arsenal currently employ requires no lapse in concentration and naturally denigrates ownership. Aaron Ramsey is running on steam and must be far beyond the supposed ‘red zone’. Mikel Arteta’s vision, skill and efficiency on the ball would be effective in Ramsey’s position.  Furthermore I think the formula should be refreshed and given a renewed impetus for the rest of the season with a small tactical adjustment by playing Francis Coquelin alongside Alex Song. 

Since the team seem to be lacking authority, power and energy in its midfield, Coquelin should be considered as a deep-lying ball winner. Arsenal do not have the personnel to add the authority of Xavi, or the power of a Yaya Toure but it could add the energy of a certain talented young Frenchman when he is fit again. In an ideal world, I’d combine Frimpong’s personality and strength, with Coquelin’s technique and energy – but on balance I think the assets of Coquelin will ultimately help to forge him the more successful career of the two. 

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29 Responses to “Could Coquelin restore Arsenal’s energy and prestige?”

  1. athlon says:

    Coquelin is a very talented guy!!!

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  2. David says:

    It was a good read, and I agree. I’ve always said that we should play 4-2-3-1 with Mikel Arteta as a playmaker (he’s wasted at DM), Coquelin and Song as DMs, and Gervinho and AOC on the wings. It would work a treat and it’d be more steady and balanced. I hope Wenger reads this article.

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  3. Dejilinho says:

    Arsene are you listening? ‘No. It has to be my way’ said Arsene.

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  4. Stefan_b says:

    I’d like to see a switch back to 4-4-2 in the summer. Song – Wilshere/Arteta as the first choice pairing and Coquelin – Arteta/Wilshere/Ramsey as the second pairing. If Coquelin hits great form he could either replace Wilshere or Song seeing as he is very adept as a defensive midfielder, but also as a box-to-box midfielder. Great passer of the ball, high energy and very good technique. Also his drive is really great.

    But, until then we should play like this:

    Szczesny

    Sagna – Koscielny – Vermaelen – Gibbs

    Song – Coquelin

    Gervinho – Arteta – Chamberlain

    v. Persie

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  5. athlon says:

    I don’t understand your crisitsm about Johan. All right, he’s probably not world-class, but last year he made absolutely solid and troublefree performances on the pitch, he was the experienced player compared to Laurent, who has developed into a fine player.
    We’ve got 3 very good, very experienced defenders, normally it would only depend on the opponent who should play.
    So Johan is probably not our best defender (yet – who knows), but he’s a good utilise man. Say a player’s name who would accept his role as a no:4 defender.
    Kyle Bartley is too good to be only a no:4 player. Miquel? I suppose, Djourou is better than Miquel.

    ps.: He should be judged only as a centre defender. I admit that he was sluggish v Nani on the flanks, but that’s not his original position.

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  6. Davi says:

    Arteta has also been a quality defensive midfielder. Ultimately I think he should be playing there, but we don’t have anyone who is better at playing passes through the opposition defence. Ramsey hasn’t looked up to the playmaker role so far, although I’ve no doubt he will get better with time, and with Wilshere’s injury, there’s just no one better than arteta. Coquelin looks a top class midfielder in the making, and I couldn’t argue that he has deserved a chance this season. With Wilshere out, it’s clear that our best 2 midfielders that remain are Arteta and Song, but Ramsey hasn’t worked out so well, at least not on a consistent basis, so why not give Francis a try?

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  7. Davi says:

    @athlon:
    I’ve always been a big fan of Djourou; IMO his potential is very high (physically and technically very similar to Vincent Kompany), but even I have to admit he has been very poor since his shoulder injury last year. He just seems too indecisive, slow to react and lacks aggression. His issues are purely mental, and can be fixed, but he needs to sort them fast because Miquel really has looked better in his few opportunities this season, and Bartley is highly rated, if injury-prone, so he could be overtaken pretty quickly.

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  8. Davi says:

    @Stefan_b:
    In a 4-4-2 system Arteta and wilshere are both very capable wide-players who could contribute a lot in defence and attack. Imo Song and Coquelin could form a great partnership in the middle in that system – more similar in style to the “great” arsenal sides that Wenger built.

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  9. Josh says:

    I believe that, for the players available and assuming that Wilshere is back soon, Arsene should use a 4-4-2 formation with the following:

    Szczesny
    Sagna – Koscielny – Vermaelen – Gibbs
    Coquelin – Song – Wilshere – Chamberlain
    Gervinho – v. Persie

    In 03/04, Arsenal used a 4-4-2 formation and used Ljungberg and Pires at the right and left midfield. I noticed that these players were kind of central players playing out wide and were able to win the ball in the opposition’s half. Coquelin is a defensive attacker: he can dribble with pace and he can win the ball from anyone, I believe.

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  10. athlon says:

    @Davi

    I believe, Miquel is more sutied for the Spanish league.
    Yes, you’re right about his shoulder injury, but since then he hasn’t played too much. For a no:4, he’s perfect.
    Don’t forget that at the weekend he played with Squillaci.

    At the moment this team is playing with low confidence. Sometimes even Vermaelen doesn’t play in his best form and makes too much mistakes.

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  11. athlon says:

    @Davi:

    @Davi

    I believe, Miquel is more sutied for the Spanish league.
    Yes, you’re right about his shoulder injury, but since then he hasn’t played too much. For a no:4, he’s perfect.
    Don’t forget that at the weekend he played with Squillaci.

    At the moment this team is playing with low confidence. Sometimes even Vermaelen doesn’t play in his best form and makes too much mistakes.

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  12. stephen jiji says:

    a good read indeed!i’ve alwayz thought as much 4 sometime now.i think arteta’s being wasted in that defensive role.true that 4 a player with such vision and great finishing ability.cocuelin as well should be given more game time as he is a real class.he is good at making those timely tackles and is very composed on the ball.

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  13. American gooner says:

    Shouldn’t the title say “restore” instead of “store”. It seems grammatically incorrect.

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  14. American gooner says:

    @athlon: Sadly, as good as Kyle Bartley is, I don’t see Arsene bringing him anywhere near the first team soon. Hope he gets his chance next season. I think we are set in defence for now and a few years yet….except squillaci, no squillaci.

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  15. alex jackson says:

    Don’t decive urself is very defficult 2 win trophy wit averagf players.song,whilshare,rvp,cokelin,per,kosheni,sagna dos ar d player dat is playging gud footbal while d rest ar pretendars .

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  16. ted says:

    i agree that coquelin should be used to partner song but only to drop arteta to the bench. He should not play cam role, he hasn’t shown any vision, any ability to take on a defender, and he only passes backwards, not what we need from a cam. I think ramsey will play better with coquelin as holding midfielder, he will provide more space for ramsey something arteta doesn’t do for anyone.

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  17. Rich says:

    Good read! And I also agree that johan is rubbish I have always said he shouldn’t wear an arsenal shirt he is far to slow and indecisive!
    Arsene won’t change anything the board don’t help ever since David dien left we have gone to shit.

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  18. TCas says:

    @Stefan_b: Great article! Totally agree on the 4:4:2. Arsenal’s 4:2:3:1 is not Barcelona’s evolution of possession soccer. Arsenal gives in to service from the flank far to easily and with no real target players aside from RVP – just leads to an easy clear. A true 4:3:3 will use the flank to open up passing lanes in the final third for supporting or delayed runs. Furthermore, Arsenal’s lack of defensive pressure on the ball in midfield continues to keep the back line in dangerous 1 v 1 situations. Why? Rosisky, Wolcott, Arshavin have been allowed to play very soft, low energy defense for far too long.

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  19. don says:

    coquelin has great potential,but reality is most of your opinions r biased,nobody mentions rosicky,benayoun/arshavin who r better creatively than arteta/ramsey but mis managed by AW.if arteta doesn’t start,coquelin starts in his position and any of the three above + jack in ramseys position,with width of ox n gervinho.change of formation,song,jack sitting one of the three supporting striker esp arshavin with same starting width

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  20. Sajit says:

    A very energetic, skill full, intelligent & strong player. He also has the advantage of being eased into the team rather than being thrown at the deep end (different positions also adding to the development). The frequent hamstring injuries are a worry though. If there is one aspect he needs to improve is, he seems to run himself to the ground and go off steam towards the end of 90 minutes. With experience and improving fitness he will learn to manage that better. Along with JW the best prospect to come out of the youth team and will fulfill his potential if he can stay fit and continue to develop. Miles ahead of Frimmy, who at best is a spirited youth player with a lot of heart, potential and love for the club

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  21. offiong says:

    Wenger is d most stereotype mgr in d world. For him, trying new formations and personell is an abomination. That’s y we r so predicatable.

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  22. james says:

    Song is a very poor player indeed and a liability to the team. His inability to control midfield, disregard for his positioning, his inability to find the advanced players in space quickly with a simple pass coupled with his infuriating four touches routine where he gets crowded out and gives away possession.

    The reason Arteta and Ramsey have struggled of late is because they are always having to cover for Song because he never in the place hes meant to be in front of the defense. Have a look how many miles Ramsey has run no wonder the guys knackered because hes always the one tracking back covering Songs lazy arse instead of being the adv mid.

    To push him further up the field, this is a terrible idea not just for the reasons i stated above. He also lacks the technical ability of a Arteta, Ramsey, Wilshere and Coquelin
    and to suggest you have to keep him in the squad and rotate i beyond stupid he should be on the bench or sold anyone who disagrees with me watch all the games we have lost not won lost and look at Song especially the cup game on sat for the second goal when at CB, proof of his wanderer mentality.

    Song is a very poor player, not good enough for a top club and for certain fans to be lauding him with praise and some even giving him world class shows how far this club has slid. i would have Lee Cattermole over Song every time based on the Sunderland match.

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  23. sloth says:

    I’d be happy if Coq got a go and to give Song more freedom. Song is massively underrated and has been generally very very good this season. The only other better player in his position is Yaya.

    I think a massive problem is that we need an exceptional central attacking mid to play between RVP and the midfield and Arteta or Ramsey are not the answer (they are good squad players and should play regularly but not certainly starters). Jack may be the answer but might need a few years before he becomes worldclass (young players always go through periods of bad form and it takes time – even Cesc had a year or poor form)

    As for Djourou I think he has the potential still and last year before his injury he looked very good alongside Kos. A lot of people seem to forget this and also that he has been playing out of position. Ok he hasnt been great since his return to CDef but Verm has been bad too. I say give him a chance.

    Of topic – Walcott hasnt been great but I still think we should keep him but he shouldnt be a starter in most games. Coming off the bench he can still be extremely useful.

    off topic again, I think we need to sign a winger and central mid to stop Walcott and Arteta/Ramsey becoming as regular starters and get rid of people like Rosicky, Diaby, Bendtner, Arshavin to accomodate. Just changing two or three average players for two or three world class (or atleast very very good) players would make a massive difference. Easier said than done though.

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  24. Christian says:

    Coquelin and Song for DM. Great thinking. I wonder why Arsene hasnt exploited this means since the inception of the campaign(this season)

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  25. ogban says:

    In spite of Coq’s undoubted talent, I still think we need a mature, hard but clean defensive MF to give cover to the defence. That’s why we need M’villa imo.

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  26. pres says:

    “In an ideal world, I’d combine Frimpong’s personality and strength, with Coquelin’s technique and energy” This would be perfect after one year if Frimpong get back to his best.

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  27. Gerry Lennon says:

    I am also a big fan of Coquelin. Getting him to sign a new contract was one of the better decisions. I hope Ozaykup also gets some game time this season as he looks a good prospect in the near future
    Djourou I feel has a confidence thing. If the team are playing well, he plays well, but when the team are under the kosh, he crumbles badly … he may not be alone in that?
    Some people do not watch the same games as me regards Alex Song. To my mind he has been the only one who has the technique to play the ‘defense-splitting’ passes, but because nobody else can, or is willing to do it, he has to try it even when the odds of success are low, You only have to look at the the best goals Arsenal have scored, most lead back to a Song assist. Pity Frimpong had his injury at the beginning of last season which put him back a year. Without that we would not be talking about the lack of defensive cover now.
    Whatever happens during the rest of this season, I am already getting excited about an ihjury free start to 2012/13.

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  28. goonie says:

    Coquelin is a beast, i’ve seen him play at training and he really has the spark, much like cesc fabregas did/has.

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  29. Blazer says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Thank you for this intellegt analysis. I’ve mention this particular point before and I am glad to hear it again. Couquelin playing side by side with Song will definetely solidify the midfield. The pair have the necessary skill to stop any attacker and pass the ball wisely to create the attacking tempo. If Wenger play Rosicky or Diaby on the attacking midfield position with Gervinho PVP and AOX up front Arsenal will have a decent chance to challeng any team even win most of the challenges. I hope Wenger open his eyes and mind to make this happen.

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