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Will Schneiderlein Derail Coquelin’s Progress at Arsenal?

The story of Francis Coquelin’s rise at Arsenal has been like some fairytale on Disney. A player that has been at the club since 2008 after passing a trial but he was used sparingly before shipped out on loan to Lorient, SC Freiburg and most recently, Charlton Athletic. There was a brief spell when he featured as a fullback for the club and he made a couple of decent performances but somehow, he was never favored for first team football.

In a rather funny twist of fate, injuries to many first team key players in midfield made Arsene Wenger to recall from his loan at Charlton, much to the player’s disappointment. Arsene Wenger recently spoke about his rise to glory, citing it as an example for young footballers out there,

“I explained to him that what I liked most was his ball-winning potential rather than his playmaking potential, so I sent him out on loan to France for experience,” revealed the boss. “He played without being convincing in the box-to-box role. He then went to Charlton and I sent somebody to watch him. The reports were positive and I called him back after five weeks, and he wasn’t happy. I said to him, ‘why are you not happy?’ and he said, ‘I was playing regularly for Charlton and you called me back just to cover and not to play me’.

“We went into the first game and I didn’t start him. Then we went to West Ham United and I started him. He was surprised because we played at home against QPR and I didn’t play him, but I did away at West Ham. Since then, he has not moved out of the team because he sticks to what he is strong at – winning the ball and using it well. What is also surprising is that he’s very good in the air because he has a very good leap.

“I always remind him that we have gone through a long period of suffering and I tell him not to forget that – always remember who you are. That is a very great example for young kids because you make a career with one dominant quality, but sometimes you forget who you are.

“He’s a good example but the other good example is that he arrived at 17 and has finally made it at 24. It’s unbelievable how patient and open-minded you have to be.”

Since returning to the team in the mid-way point of the season, Arsenal has won 17 of the 22 games Coquelin has featured with the only defeats coming against Monaco in the Champions League and the North London derby. Coquelin plays his anchor man role with such excellence and he has been indispensable to the squad. His interceptions have been a norm and his distribution has improved considerably. With his contract set to run out at the end of the season, the Gunners tied the Frenchman to a long-term deal and he’s set to stay at the club till 2019. Coquelin has been a revelation ever since coming back from loan at Charlton, establishing himself as a sound defensive player in the English top-flight. Since his first game against West Ham United on 28 December 2014, he has led the league in defensive interceptions made, one-on-one duels, and placed third in tackles made, behind Morgan Schneiderlein and Pablo Zabaleta

Coquelin has gone above the likes of Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini in the pecking order and with the elder statesmen deals expiring next summer, the Gunners would need to invest in that position.

This rumors of Morgan Schneiderlein coming to Arsenal this summer has gained a lot of momentum and the likelihood of it happening ultimately rests in the hands of Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal hierarchy. However, if the Gunners get Schneiderlein from Southampton, what does that mean for Coquelin?

Before I delve further into this discussion, I felt it would be nice to compare the stats of both players in the Premier League this season. Bear in mind that Schneiderlein has played many more games than the Coq.

 

Coquelin

Schneiderlein

Appearances (subs)

16 (3)

24 (2)

Tackles made per game

3.6

3.7

Interceptions made per game

3.8

2.6

Fouls committed per game

1.3

1.8

Clearances per game

3.5

1.7

Blocked shots per game

0.4

0.2

Aerial Duels Won per game

2.8

1.8

Pass Completion percentage

84.4%

89.3%

Bookings (Yellow/Red)

(5/0)

(5/1)

Stats via WhoScored.

From the stats shown above, these are two defensive midfielder that are in the peak of their powers and having both of them in the same team will be awesome. With the two French defensive musketeers in front of the back four, the likes of Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker and Gabriel would be on holidays because there’d be no activity for them with the kind of protection they’d get from the French duo.

However, will the acquisition of Morgan Schneiderlein derail the progress on Francis Coquelin?

That’s for Wenger to decide but it’s worth stewing over. Coquelin is not really a ‘ball playing defensive midfielder’ and as Wenger rightly stated, he has struggled in the box to box role, but Schneiderlein edges his compatriot in that regard and he also has a better passing accuracy than the Coq. For a player not blessed with much height, Coquelin has an amazing leap and he’s better in intercepting aerial balls than Schneiderlein. Coquelin’s interceptions are exemplary as well, and watching him play consistently has been an improvement.

I feel Wenger would manage the situation better and I’d definitely love to have Schneiderlein in the team. But it’s not going to be easy managing the situation of having two specialist DMs at your disposal and you’re meant to play one.

That’s Arsene Wenger’s headache though.

Sayonara.

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New Deal for Akpom and Schneiderlein in the Summer?

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The happy times are back again at Arsenal. With the arrival of Gabriel Paulista the team addressed an issue that was meant to be sorted out in the summer and for the very first time in ages the squad is fully balanced and the deputies have proved themselves to be capable.

This winter transfer window saw three attacking players with limited opportunities depart the club on loan and in all indications, the club will be open to permanent moves for those forwards if they do enough in their respective teams to warrant them being retained.

Chuba Akpom is a player that is highly rated in this part of the world and his performances in the Asia Tour a couple of seasons ago endeared him to the hearts of Arsenal fans. He has had a couple of opportunities to show what he’s made of in the domestic cup competitions as well as some substitute appearances in the Premier League from time to time.

However, Akpom’s contract with the club expires this summer and according to the Independent, there are lucrative offers from FC Twente, Feyernoord and Borussia Dortmund but Arsenal is bracing themselves up to offer the lad a long-term deal that would keep him in the club a while longer. Arsenal fans would be hoping that the club would do enough to keep Akpom in the club because he’s just 19-years-old and he has a very bright future ahead of him. The decision rests with the lad and we will see how things pan out in the coming weeks.

Elsewhere, the Independent has reported that the Gunners ‘have agreed’ a £15m fee to sign Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlein this summer. Wenger is known to be a long-term admirer of the French midfielder and he ticks the boxes for the kinda midfielder the Gunners need. Francis Coquelin have proven that he can be capable to hold the fort but having an additional DM like Schneiderlein would be good for competition as well as the fact that he’s such a quality player. This also essentially means that having the French midfielder would signal the end for the Gunners holding midfield ‘oldies, Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta that would be in the last years of their respective contracts.

Thankfully there no more transfer window till the summer and all we can do now is concentrate on football and trust me, there’s a lot of it.

Sayonara