Arsenal defensive midfielder Francis Coquelin put in a superb display as the Gunners progressed to the FA Cup final with a 2-1 extra-time victory over Reading at Wembley.
The French star was making his first ever semi-final appearance, and it marks some turn of events for the youngster as he began the campaign on loan in the Championship with Charlton Athletic.
Since returning to the Gunners, his 2015 form has been among the Premier League’s best in his position and he asserted his dominance on the biggest stage of his career to date.
|Tackles||Interceptions||Effective Clearances||Aerial Duels Won||Touches 99||Accurate Passes||Pass Success Rate %||Mins Played|
As per the table above, the 23-year-old dealt with a direct Reading side well and protected a rather nervy back four to the best of his abilities.
He recorded a total of five tackles, six aerial duel winners and a whopping nine interceptions – more than any other player in a red shirt.
Chilean superstar Alexis Sanchez has deservedly grabbed all the plaudits for his two-goal haul, but many of the Gunners’ attacking moves are only possible due to the protection afforded by Coquelin.
He offers Arsene Wenger’s side the perfect balance in midfield, while maintaining the necessary qualities in possession to help central midfield partner Santi Cazorla instigate attacks from deep.
At Wembley, Coquelin took an impressive 99 touches and maintained an 84.6% pass success rate before departing 10 minutes into extra time.
His integration into the Gunners’ first-team XI has coincided with an overall huge improvement in the team, and his place and status in the team is bordering on the indispensable.
An FA Cup final is the least Coquelin deserves for his role this season, and he will undoubtedly be one of the first names on the team sheet.