Arsenal legend explains where Francis Coquelin must still improve

Lee Dixon has been impressed with Francis Coquelin since his starting role in the Arsenal first-team.

Frenchman Coquelin has now totalled 13 Premier League appearances for the Gunners this term, but former star Lee Dixon has told the Standard that he is not the answer to all of Arsenal’s problems.

The 23-year-old spent the early part of the season on loan with Championship side Charlton Athletic, but he was recalled to the Emirates Stadium in the midst of an injury crisis.

After making three substitute appearances against Newcastle United, Liverpool and Queens Park Rangers, the defensive midfielder finally started a game - the 2-1 victory over West Ham - and has not looked back.

A series of incredible performances have made Coquelin move from outcast to key member of Arsene Wenger’s squad, and his position in the team will be vital if Arsenal intend to win any silverware this term.

However, it is still hard to fully judge Coquelin’s actual ability, as he may just be having a massive effect due to the Gunners finally playing with a dedicated ball winner in midfield.

For too long they have been overrun by physical teams, but now, in the Frenchman, they have a player who is there to simply win the ball and recycle possession.

It is no surprise that Arsenal have looked better when moving away from their close-knit style of play to a more robust system, although Dixon feels that Coquelin would not fit in if Arsenal intend to go back to their defined style.

Speaking to the Standard, Dixon outlined how Coquelin still needs to improve, as he has only shown himself to be a good ball-winner as of now.

"Coquelin has done well coming in but he is not that experienced,” the former defender said. “He can do that job but it is when his role becomes something else during a game and that he has got to make a decision, that’s a different matter.

“He can just stand there and win the ball for you but when the game goes in your favour and you start getting some joy on the pitch, what does he do then? Does he start joining in?

"He has got to make those decisions, so it is not as easy as saying ‘he’s doing well, he’s the answer’.”

There is no doubt that Coquelin has been one of the main reasons for Arsenal’s upturn in form in the last few months, and that he is of vital importance to the Gunners.

However, his limitations could still cost him a long-term career in North London, and Arsenal should still be looking to sign a top level defensive midfielder in the summer.

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