Arsenal's Francis Coquelin below par against Newcastle; Wenger must give him support

Arsenal midfielder Francis Coquelin was not at his best this weekend but he still played his part in a 2-1 win.

Such has been Francis Coquelin’s emergence as an Arsenal player this season that even when he has an off-game he still proves vital to the side.

That was the case when the Gunners took on Newcastle United this weekend.

The defensive midfielder looked tired as the game went on and he was more wasteful than usual, but that does not mean he had a bad game; only a bad game by his own increasingly high standards.

What Coquelin’s decline in the latter stages of the matched proved is that Arsenal cannot rely on him alone to solve their problem in defensive midfield.

Yes he is a wonderful talent and his story is brilliant – from Charlton Athletic loanee to key man for Arsenal in the blink of an eye. But manager Arsene Wenger must sign a quality alternative if he wants to ensure the good work of this season is just the precursor to much greater things.

  Tackles WonEffective ClearancesEffective Headed ClearancesDuels WonAerials WonInterceptions WonPossession LostPassing AccuracyMins Played
Francis Coquelin 5 4 3 10 2 4 12 84% 90

Coquelin still won five tackles, 10 duels, four interceptions and two aerial battles against Newcastle, proving that even on an off-day he can shine brighter than many.

But his passing accuracy was not as high as Wenger would want and he lost possession on 12 occasions - the one thing a defensive midfielder does not want to do.

He still played his part in Arsenal's victory, but it will be interesting to see how Wenger approaches the summer transfer window, knowing he need only cannily add to what he already has rather than make wholesale changes.

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