On this day in 2014, Francis Coquelin made his unlikely return from his loan spell at Charlton Athletic and appeared for Arsenal for the first time in 23 months.
After signing for Arsenal from Stade Lavallois in 2008, the Frenchman went on a few loan spells to Lorient, SC Freiburg, and then, in 2014, Charlton. While there, the midfielder only managed five Championship appearances before he was recalled by his parent club.
Injuries to Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini meant that Arsenal had no choice but to bring back their defensive midfielder, who had only just had his one-month loan spell extended throughout December.
Coq’s first start in 23 months came against West Ham in a game the Gunners won 2-1 and, to be fair, the young, passionate midfielder was a breath of fresh air at the time, despite picking up a yellow card.
The now 25-year-old has become a bit of a Marmite player for Gooners. Some love him; some hate him. He has a habit of slowing down play, an odd inability to pass and really likes to pass sideways or backwards. Although he is improving the latter part this season, it seems.
However, whether he has a long-term future at the club, I’m not sure. I truly think he loves the club and, with the more creative Granit Xhaka at his side, perhaps his defensiveness is now a little more balanced. Plus, the bloke has now made 128 appearances for the Arsenal first team; perhaps he deserves a chance.