Francis Coquelin says his selection for last weekend’s crucial game against West Brom is proof that he has earned the trust of Arsene Wenger.
The manager left regular starter Aaron Ramsey on the bench, choosing instead to bolster his midfield with the more defensive minded Coquelin, and the young Frenchman believes his hard work is paying off. And after 17 appearances this season he’s happy with the progress he’s made.
“I am satisfied,” he said. “I feel that the coach trusts me more and more. He showed it by making me play in different positions, be it on the right or on the left. As it happens, this weekend too.
“During training, I felt good, but Sunday was a game with high stakes, a game to qualify for the Champions League. He made his choices by having me start in the middle. I think it’s proof that he trusts me. It was, for me, the most important game I played in this season.”
And while admitting it was a season in which the pressure was high from the word go, Coquelin says they always believed they could achieve the augmented goal of securing Champions League football.
“It’s true that there was a lot of pressure at the start of the season. Recruits arrived a bit late. We went to Manchester and conceded eight. A lot of people were sceptical but we were all confident in ourselves.
“We had a series of victories and it put us back into the race. We also had a difficult start to 2012. Few people saw us qualifying even for Europa League. We turned things around and we are happy, because for the club, it’s important to play in the Champions League.”
As for his own future, having extended his contract he’s looking forward to next season with the Gunners where he knows he still has plenty of work to do.
“I have extended my contract by two seasons in January. I am tied to the club until the end of the 2015 season. I will therefore come back for pre-season there. I will thus be at Arsenal next season. It’s also my job to show that I can be a starter in the team.”