How does Francis Coquelin compare to Alex Song's 11/12 season at Arsenal?

Alex Song

How Arsenal's Francis Coquelin compares to the man he has finally replaced.

Francis Coquelin's breakthrough at Arsenal has made him one of the finds of the season, having established himself as a key first team player.

It's a remarkable ascendancy for a player who was on loan at Charlton and had looked set to leave the Gunners with his contract set to expire in June.

Arsenal confirmed last week the 23-year-old had signed a new deal at The Emirates, with the defensive midfielder a key cog in making the attack tick.

The Gunners have struggled in the position since they sold Alex Song to Barcelona in the summer of 2012. Mikel Arteta has not looked comfortable there in big matches, while Arsene Wenger's only forays into the transfer market to solve it have been a short-term loan for Kim Kallstrom and recently adding 17-year-old Krystian Bielik.

Coquelin has shown already that he is playing defensively at an equal or higher level than Song's final season at the club. 

  SeasonTackles won per gameInterceptions won per gamesAssistsPassing AccuracyAerial Duels won per gameBall Recoveries per gameShots Blocked per gameAppearances
Francis Coquelin 2014-2015 2.3 3.1 0 84% 3.1 7.3 0.5 10
Alexandre Song 2011-2012 2.15 1.47 11 84% 0.74 8.24 0.26 34

Coquelin has recorded more tackles and interceptions per game than Song, winning substantially more aerial duels, and blocking a goal-bound effort from the opposition on average one every two games, rather than Song's one every four.

The big difference has been that he does not have the attacking string to his bow which Song did, whose superb 11 assists helped Arsenal, combining so well with Robin van Persie.

Arsenal are however now a very different team. Rather than being set up around a free-scoring striker, their attack is more well-rounded, with any of Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla complimenting one or more of Olivier Giroud, Danny Welbeck or Theo Walcott.

That may leave Coquelin with more to do, but he has done it so well, and Arsenal finally appear to have the replacement they needed, who can give the team the balance they require.

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