Emmanuel Petit wasn’t impressed with Arsene Wenger’s decision to start Francis Coquelin in defence on Sunday.
In a move that bemused everyone, Wenger decided to start Coquelin in the middle of his back three against Manchester City.
The decision, in part, was forced on him by the late withdrawals of Per Mertesacker and Rob Holding. Nonetheless, he did have other options he could have used. Petit believes it was just one of several tactical errors Wenger made during the game.
“Firstly, it was wrong to put Francis Coquelin in central defence,” he told Paddy Power. “Coquelin was booed by some fans midweek at home in the Europa League – he couldn’t have gone into this game with any degree of confidence.
“So it was a strange decision to start him in an unfamiliar position against the most dangerous attacking side in the league. To be fair to Arsène, he tried something different, but it was a mistake.”
Coquelin had an okay game without the ball. He was able to make a number of excellent tackles and didn’t look completely lost at the back. Unfortunately, he was near useless in possession.
City’s pressure flustered him, and was incapable of playing the ball out of defence. Wenger wanted to keep the back three no matter what against City, as he was fearful of their pace in behind.
Even so, he was reaching with this decision, especially as Mohamed Elneny was talked up as a potential centre-back and was more familiar with the position, having played there in pre-season and in the Europa League.
Coquelin was taken off after 55 minutes for Alexandre Lacazette. The striker then scored and gave Arsenal a glimmer of hope. We can file this one away as yet another bizarre big game decision by Arsene Wenger.