Coquelin vs Song: Who was London’s best defensive midfielder on Saturday?

Emirates Stadium

Arsenal’s Francis Coquelin and West Ham United’s Alex Song faced off on Saturday.

Former Arsenal midfielder Alex Song endured a miserable afternoon on his return to the Emirates stadium as West Ham United were crushed 3-0.

The Cameroon international spent six years in North London before trading the Gunners for La Liga giants Barcelona in the summer of 2012.

However, after failing to establish himself at the Nou Camp, Song returned to the Premier League with the Hammers, joining on a season-long loan deal.

Given the calls for a new defensive midfielder last summer, a number of Gunners supporters were both surprised and disappointed that Wenger didn’t go back in for the 27-year-old.

Such calls, however, have now all-but vanished owing to the introduction of Francis Coquelin and his superb performances since the turn of the New Year.

The Frenchman’s presence in the starting XI has coincided with the Gunners' impressive form and his display against Song on Saturday added further proof of his importance to the side.

  TacklesInterceptionsEffective ClearancesDefensive Duels WonBall RecoveriesFoulsAccurate PassesMins Played
Francis Coquelin 3 2 2 7 9 1 57 90
Alexandre Song 1 2 2 9 18 3 29 90

According to the table provided by Opta Stats, the two midfield generals were equally impressive in different categories regarding their respective roles.

Coquelin produced more tackles and was more accurate in winning back the ball, committing fewer fouls than his opponent.

However, Song kept up his impressive knack of winning the defensive duels – claiming nine compared to Coquelin’s seven – while also making a whopping 18 ball recoveries.

In possession, the hosts had the majority of the ball and Coquelin was heavily involved in starting off the attacking moves, recording as many as 57 accurate passes.

The duo both recorded two interceptions and effective clearances each, however Song’s overall performance was hampered by his loose passing as he completed just 55.8% of his intended passes.

It was another step in the right direction for Coquelin, and outclassing in parts an excellent player in Song further goes to show why a new defensive midfielder should be the least of Wenger’s worries this summer.

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