Between coming on as a substitute against Newcastle to leaving the Etihad with David Silva and Sergio Aguero comfortably seated in his pocket, Francis Coquelin has quietly and assuredly himself a tag of indispensability for Wenger’s team, so much so that stories of a possible delay in appending his go-ahead to a new contract has become a headache for the Match Day Gooner.
You probably have noticed the reduced buzz amongst Arsenal fans as far as clamouring for a new defensive midfielder. Most of the names being mentioned are unavailable at the moment, Wenger was never really ready to spend, but the bad period of the November midfield crisis has seen the rise of the young Frenchman.
Some of those midfielders have now returned but not those who will disturb his place. The FA Cup game at Brighton was his rest day but with events beyond the control of Flamini, it wasn’t surprising to see him called up as an insurance-based set of substitutions which included Alexis Sanchez.
Now, Wenger has said that Jack Wilshere is well ahead of his scheduled return and could be back in the team by the middle of February and according The Daily Mail, that poses a problem for the rising Coqulein.
We know of the experiments Roy Hodgson and co have done at St. George’s last summer to employ the Arsenal midfielder into a deep lying playmaker role and though that has not been tried at the Emirates, everyone knows how much Wenger values Wilshere and how he would want to fit him into the Arsenal team. It’s no secret that the 22-year old is Le Prof’s future captain and he had the team built around him before he got injured.
Coquelin, for his part, has had the Arsenal defence dependent on him for the past few games and it is not so much a coincidence that the team had kept three clean sheets in the three games played before the Cup tie at Brighton which he did not start.
Wilshere is anything but a defensive midfielder. Even if he likes to get into the muddy sides of the game, he is not quite good at it yet. His calculation for making tackles is rough-edged and more often than not, he comes off worse of every collision. That is not to say that he cannot learn to play the role, as it requires as much tactical awareness as physical ability to hold off advancing opponents, but Wilshere is at his best when being the one making those advances.
Coquelin has shown good grasp of both qualities since his chance and it is fair to say he should continue in it. He wants guarantees that he will be a first team regular before he signs that extension and he should be given it, rightly. Wouldn’t you agree?
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