Arsenal host Newcastle United on Saturday looking to quickly get over their Champions League heartache and cement their place in the top four.
For a while it looked like they would struggle, but their immense form has coincided with the introduction of Francis Coquelin, who has in turn staked his claim as one of the league’s best defensive midfielders.
He has been crucial for the North Londoners, a real inspiration in midfield and has shown boss Arsene Wenger exactly what he has been missing for some time.
Newcastle United, on the other hand, have struggled of late under caretaker boss John Carver, but in midfielder Jack Colback they have a wonderful prospect themselves.
The 25-year-old former Sunderland man has been excellent throughout his debut season at St James’ Park, but how does he compare with Coquelin in what promises to be an intriguing midfield battle at the Emirates?
|Tackles per Game||Interceptions per Game||Effective Clearances per Game||Def Duels Won per Game||Ball Recoveries per Game||Shots per Game||Accurate Passes per Game||Key Passes per Game||Appearances|
According to the table provided by Opta Stats, the two midfielders excel in different areas, though that’s not to discredit the Newcastle ace from his evident defensive capabilities.
Coquelin comes out on top in five key defensive categories - producing more tackles, interceptions, clearances, ball recoveries and defensive duel winners on average per match.
However, the Frenchman’s passing range - with a success rate of 83.1% - is trumped by the former Sunderland man both in quantity and accuracy, as Colback averages an 88.8% completion rate in contrast.
Aside from his passing qualities, Colback has more licence to get forward, as is illustrated by his three goals plus a higher number of chances created via key passes and shots on goal.
The English midfielder has a big future ahead of him with the Magpies and his ability to be effective at both ends of the pitch makes him a unique member of Carver’s squad.
Newcastle head into the fixture with just two wins in 10, and to prevent extending that run to two in 11 they will need to perform to a high standard and not allow the Gunners to gain control in the middle of the pitch.