Coquelin the best player this year in key defensive areas

Coquelin

No-one has outperformed the Arsenal youngster since the turn of the year.

Arsenal's Francis Coquelin has been something of a phenomenon since claiming a regular starting berth in Arsene Wenger's side.

For many a season, pundits and fans have been hoping the Arsenal boss would add some steel to a midfield often perceived as being lightweight and lacking fight, and it appears that Coquelin may well have claimed that responsibility with some gusto. 

Defensive stats since January 1st 2015

  PositionTeamWon TackleDuel WonInterception WonBall RecoveryPassing Accuracy
Francis Coquelin MF Arsenal 32 105 36 86 84.22%
Christian Benteke FW Aston Villa 0 70 1 13 61.36%
Pablo Zabaleta DF Man City 28 55 11 39 87.29%
Jason Puncheon MF C. Palace 15 50 15 88 76.73%
Daley Blind MF Man Utd 9 29 38 52 89.01%

Emphasising just how important he has been to the Gunners, the young Frenchman is leading the way when it comes to a variety of defensive roles, and has proved vital for Arsenal's assault on the top four since he came into the side at the turn of the year.

Looking at performances from January 1st onwards, the 23-year-old has won more tackles than any other player, is second to Daley Blind when looking at interceptions, and second only to Jason Puncheon when it comes to recovering the ball. He is only a couple behind each player in the respective categories.

Even more amazingly, Coquelin has won 35 more duels for possession that his nearest rival since New Year's Day, powerful Aston Villa forward Christian Benteke.

The statistics emphasise just how important it was for Arsene Wenger to bring in a defensive midfielder, even if it was a player he already had on his books.

Ahead of the international break, Coquelin may well be hoping he has caught the eye of Didier Deschamps for France, a player who was renowned for doing the unglamorous midfield work as player.

And if Coquelin can keep this form up until the end of the season, it may be that Arsenal fans can finally cross a midfield enforcer off their transfer wish list.

Register for ARSENAL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch