One Coq, two opinions.
I read Stephen Bradley’s Coq block piece for this site with great interest. It’s a good article, you should read it.
It’s also wrong.
It is hard to argue with Stephen’s central point, which is that six weeks is not long enough to judge whether Coquelin deserves a new contract or not.
That said, I don’t think that even critics of Arsène’s tactical acumen would argue that the man can spot a player.
But what if Arsène had seen something in Coquelin before this unseasonal resurrection?
It’s not that unlikely.
Those of you with memories will recall Coquelin performing admirably as the team collapsed around his ears at the beginning of the 2011 season. You may remember the true horror of that day in Manchester was only revealed to us after Coquelin was replaced by a debut-making Ox.
Ironically, a player who would block Coq’s immediate route to the first team was signed in the immediate aftermath of that game (more of whom later) and Coquelin’s first team involvement that season was ended by a hamstring tear whilst playing at full back- look he’s versatile!
Basically, he then disappeared off the face of the planet.
Ok, I’ll admit it’s a bit odd that he’s been persona non grata for the last two years. I can’t really deny that.
Arsène’s public declarations that the loan to Charlton was for match practice as prelude to a first team return rather than Coquelin being put in the shop window don’t quite ring true for me.
But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened exactly as Arsène described.
For me, watching Coquelin now, it’s hard to believe Arsène hasn’t seen something there, and we all know that if there’s one thing Le Boss loves, it’s an internal solution.
It’s also hard to credit Stephen’s assertion that Le Coq’s current form is purely down to the adrenalising effect of playing for his professional career.
If Coquelin were to leave Arsenal tomorrow, I don’t think he’d struggle to find a club. We saw at Manchester City that he’s technically sound, disciplined and tigerish in the tackle.
What’s not to love?
Crucially, I think the key point that Stephen gets wrong is in saying that there’s no room for Coquelin, Arteta and a new summer signing.
The Most Immaculate Haircut has been a tremendous signing for Arsenal, but his legs are not so pristine.
Let’s be frank, they’ve pretty much gone now and Arteta should not be starting games for us anymore.
I don’t believe he should have been starting this season, but when the alternative is, or was, Flamini, well…
I’m not saying that Arteta doesn’t have a role at Arsenal anymore; he is excellent in possession and often seems the calmest head in the eye of the storm.
Ideally, he’s a player to bring on when Arsenal want to run the clock down with some keep ball.
However, the demands of the Premier League are intense and in a string of muscular injuries there have been repeated signs that Arteta can no longer cope physically.
Let’s not forget that Arteta was never a defensive midfielder to begin with. I don’t want to lay all the credit for a brilliant team performance at one player’s door, however, I think it’s legitimate to ask:
Would we have beaten Manchester City with Arteta playing in Coquelin’s position?
I’m not so sure.
The reason Coquelin has made such an impact in this Arsenal side is simple and it’s nothing to do with playing for his future; It’s simply the effect of having a defensive midfielder in that defensive midfield position.
If we were to sign another defensive midfielder in the summer, bearing in mind the the fact that the Arsenal treatment room has a revolving door on it, I think there will be more than enough games to go around.
Now, I don’t know what Coquelin’s wage demands are, but I doubt they’re going to put too much of a strain on the club coffers.
Regardless, I don’t believe we should ignore a solution just because it has dropped into our lap, particularly one who has the best years of his career to come.
As it happens, it sounds very much like we are close to a deal with the young Frenchman.
I, for one, am delighted about that.
Vive le Coq!