Thomas Vermaelen has admitted that he’s not shocked by Francis Coquelin’s introduction to the first team.

After injuries to Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini last season, Arsene Wenger was left with no choice but to recall Coquelin from his loan spell at Charlton and boy did it pay off. Since being brought back, the 25-year-old has become a regular starter and was severely missed while he was out with a knee injury this season.

LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 14: Riyad Mahrez of Leicester City shields the ball from Francis Coquelin of Arsenal during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Leicester City at Emirates Stadium on February 14, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Speaking ahead of our match with Vermaelen’s new club, Barcelona, the defender admitted that he always rated Coq.

“I’m impressed with Francis Coquelin,” he said.

“I know him quite well, when I started he was already there, training with us. Even if he wasn’t playing in training I found him impressive, so I’m not surprised at all he’s doing well. He’s a key player for them, helps them keep their shape and gives Arsenal stability.”

Coquelin is still being gradually introduced back to the starting XI after being out for a couple of months but it’s likely that he’ll get a start against the frenetic Barcelona on Tuesday. The midfielder has shown he can perform in the big games before but playing the Catalan giants is a huge test. Hopefully he can do the job we all know he’s capable of.