Arsenal hero Thierry Henry lavishes praise on Francis Coquelin

Francis Coquelin has been outstanding for Arsenal since the New Year.

Arsenal hero Thierry Henry has labelled midfielder Francis Coquelin ‘the police officer’ as he continues to impress in his defensive midfield role, The Sun reports.

The Frenchman started the campaign on loan at Charlton Athletic before being brought back to the Emirates over the festive period initially as defensive cover.

It was a time when Premier League observers and pundits alike were calling for Arsene Wenger to buy a new defensive midfielder, because the position was Arsenal's clear weakness.

Yet, Wenger instead opted to hand Coquelin a chance and his performance during the Gunners’ 2-0 victory over Manchester City set the stage for a remarkable run of form.

His inclusion in the first-team XI over the past four months has coincided with the North Londoners’ best run of form for over a decade, prompting Henry to single him out for much acclaim.

“Francis Coquelin has become Arsenal’s police officer. He lets the magicians do their magic and he is the policeman, clearing up the trouble in front of the defence,” Henry explained.

“What a revelation he has been in the defensive midfield role since coming from Charlton. When taking the game seriously, he has proved he can do it.”

  Tackles per GameEffective Clearances per GameInterceptions per GameDefensive Duel Winners per GameAerial Winners per GameBall Recoveries per GameAppearancesMins Played
Francis Coquelin 2.95 3.42 3.68 8.21 2.84 7.84 19 1,437
Nemanja Matic 2.76 3.52 2.12 8.03 2.24 9.06 33 2,913
Fernandinho 2.27 1.43 1.83 6.17 1.33 6.2 30 2,028

In comparison to fellow top Premier League defensive midfielders per the table provided by Opta Stats, Coquelin comes out favourably in a number of key defensive areas.

He outshines Nemanja Matic and Fernandinho in the average number of tackles, interceptions, defensive duel winners and aerial duel winners per Premier League encounter.

Talk of needing a new defensive midfielder has quietened somewhat ahead of the summer transfer window, and looking at Coquelin’s success it doesn’t come as a surprise.

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