Today we continue our Arsenal season reviews with defensive midfielder Francis Coquelin. Stay tuned tomorrow for Mikel Arteta!
Francis Coquelin made 17 total appearances for Arsenal this year, primarily at right and left back as well as in the holding midfield role. He assisted once for a Robin van Persie goal in the 7-1 smashing of Blackburn, he played in the 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford, and he was man of the match in the 2-1 loss to Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane. Before he tore his hamstring during the Great Arsenal Fullback Crisis of 2011-12 when Thanos used the Infinity Gauntlet to take down his Arsenal foes one by one in his personal bid for the heart of Death, Coquelin was looking more and more like a wonderful utility player. Come with us after the jump for more!
Ted: The more I watch Coquelin play, the more I want to see him keep playing. I don't know if it makes any damn kind of sense to think about partnering him and Alex Song in the midfield, but it seems like something to try in the future, Coquelin staying deeper and cycling the ball along while Song gets wacky. I'm not saying Coquelin is the heir to Mikel Arteta, but he passes well and his reading of the game is pretty solid (small sample size caveat applying, here). He also plays intelligently at either full back position as an emergency option, which is nice to have around. At age 21, we should start to see more of Coquelin if he's going to be part of the squad, and then we'll know what we really have on our hands.
Grade: a maybe inconclusive B
Aidan: I quite like Francis Coquelin; he's versatile, and he's pretty good. He made his first two Arsenal league starts at Old Trafford in that game, and in the Derby defeat against the small club up the road, and in both, he displayed excellent positional sense and passing ability; in fact, after Coquelin came off against United, at 60 minutes when it was 3-1, everything turned to crap. He played well with Emmanuel Frimpong in Arsenal's Carling Cup run, and then deputised at left back at the turn of the year, giving Arsenal support in the wide areas, which was weird, seeing as they weren't getting that. He then succumbed to injury, returned and was awesome against Blackburn before getting injured again. He looked rusty against West Bromwich Albion, but there's enough there from Coquelin to think he's going to be excellent in a double pivot; either as a more mobile version of Mikel Arteta, without the hair, or as a better disciplined variant to Alex Song. And he's got a great, French+Essex accent.
Thomas: I think it says a lot about the quality of Francis Coquelin that I really wish he hadn't been injured so long, as I think he really could have helped Arsenal this year, and he's only had 21 career appearances for the club. He was good in midfield and at fullback when he got to play, showing strength and skill, and more poise than one might expect. During The Crisis, he was the only fullback option who really offered any width (which, as we all know, is crucial to Arsenal's attack). Then he got hurt. In all, it was a moderately successful campaign as Le Coq probably slipped ahead of Emmanuel Frimpong as Assistant to the Regional Alex Song; I can't consider it fully successful because he's still mostly potential at this point, and he didn't really play that much. Expect to see a bit more of him next year, if healthy.
Grade: So chill.
Paul: Frances Coquelin was great in the Carling Cup this year, and I was really looking forward to seeing the kind of impact he'd make in the league. He played well when he played, but in the most tedious repeat in the history of repeats, he hurt himself and only played briefly before re-injuring himself and calling it a season with one last performance against WBA in which he was fine but not outstanding (but then that describes the whole team that day, which...yeah). So I really, really think Coq will be a good Arsenal player in the next couple years, but I didn't see enough of him this year to grade him as highly as I hope to be able to at the end of next season. All I want for next season is health for everyone. Is that too much to ask?
Grade: C+/B- (I'm not sure how charitable I'm feeling)
What say you, good folk of Ye Short Fuse?