Did Francis Coquelin prove he can deputise for Mikel Arteta?

Flames At The Emirates

Francis Coquelin was perhaps the surprise name on the Arsenal teamsheet last night. But he repaid his manager's faith.

With Arsenal defeating Swansea in their FA Cup replay last night, the real unsung hero was Francis Coquelin.

After breaking into the first team with a smattering of appearances at right-back and midfield in 2011/12, this season had seemed to be a bit of a backwards step for him.

Until last night.

Coquelin had been given opportunities this season, rare ones, but even he would probably admit that he had failed to take them. It wasn't really his fault, he was always picked with the rest of the 'second string' - The defeat away to Olympiakos a case in point.

Those games saw Arsenal lack cohesion and intensity - Last night was the opposite.

With Santi Cazorla shunted out to the wing (that's an article for another day) Arsenal's midfield trio had a more solid base, with Diaby and Coquelin holding.

The effects were two-fold; one it allowed Jack Wilshere more time to roam forward, and two it stifled Swansea's plan to counter attack.

Last night Coquelin did his job very well, he showed he was up to the task, and it really was his best performance of the season so far, proving to fans he does have something to offer.

He went about his business in a way which wasn't flashy, that's not his game, but very industriously, doing the 'less pretty' things like breaking up play and keeping the ball moving.

He certainly showed that he is worth keeping around at the Emirates, and with Arteta out injured - He could be very important, especially as Abou Diaby won't be able to play every game.

Does he start against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday? That's a big ask, and may depend on Diaby's fitness, but tactically it might work.

Arsenal may be advised to play with two defensive midfielders again, to stifle the triple attacking threat of Oscar, Mata, and Hazard.

If he plays and puts in another stellar performance like last night, fans won't be able to complain.

How do you think Coquelin did? Can he fill the gap left by Arteta?

images: © Ronnie Macdonald, © wonker

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