Speaking to France Football, youngster Francis Coquelin revealed that he’s unhappy with his lack of playing time and will considering leaving the club in January. Away on international duty with the France Under-21 side, Coquelin spoke about Les Bleuets’ Euro 2013 campaign, as well as his frustration at Arsenal. As is so often the case with youngsters who go out on loan and play regularly, their patience wears thin when they’re back on the bench at their parent clubs.
Having signed for us as a 16 year-old from Stade Laval in 2008, Coquelin immediately impressed in preseason, showing similar qualities to the recently-departed Mathieu Flamini. He became a regular for the reserves, and broke his way into the Carling Cup side, with FA Cup and league appearances expected to follow soon. However Coquelin gradually seemed to lose his way, appearing mostly (and uncomfortably) as a right-back, with Craig Eastmond moving into his spot in midfield and the first-team. He went from being a genuinely exciting young talent to a forgotten man.
Then last season, Coquelin went out on loan at Ligue 1 underdogs FC Lorient. Despite not playing much initially, he eventually made 25 appearances (scoring 1 goal) under the tutelage of Christian Gourcuff, a self-confessed Wenger and Arsenal admirer. He returned a much improved player, and has 5 appearances for us this season, making his first and second Premier League starts in the defeats away to Manchester United and Tottenham, where he was one of our best players.
In truth though, his recent starts owed more to Song and Frimpong’s suspensions, and Wilshere’s injury, than any overwhelming display of faith by the manager. And duly, with the return of Song and signing of Arteta, he has dropped back to the reserves. Given Ramsey’s good form, the imminent return of Wilshere (and less imminent return of Diaby), and our failed bid for Yann M’Vila, Coquelin has his work cut out if he wants to be a regular, although he does seem to have edged ahead of Frimpong in the pecking order.
Although not a particularly creative force, Le Coq has the potential to be a top-class midfielder. He’s very mobile and tenacious, and likes to win the ball early and cleanly, making him excellent in a pressing game. He passes confidently and quickly, and with good technique and a low centre-of-gravity, he is able to keep hold of the ball under pressure and get out of tight situations. Wenger rates him highly, and would hate to lose him. However, his contract expires in 2013, and if he doesn’t commit, the club would prefer to cash in than lose him on a free.