Is This Arsenal’s New DM? Wenger Provides Great Hint On DM

Nothing has divided the Arsenal fan base in recent years more than the signing and none signing of a defensive midfielder. Opinions have always been split over that position, and the first choice there, Mikel Arteta, has not filled most fans with confidence because he is seen as not a natural player made for that position after he was converted by the manager to play there, but he has been given credit in some quarters for the way he brings discipline to the midfield, by keeping and recycling possession. Yet his seeming lack of pace, and physical nous has been a stick with which he has been beaten several times.

Then, there is Mathieu Flamini who is the second choice there, his hand pointing and ability to shout at his team mates could at best be described as most of his best contributions. The 30 year old has struggled in his second spell at Arsenal, he struggles with his passing, he is erratic in tackles, he makes the odd ball recoveries here and there, but his lack of technical nous and discipline has been preyed on by the opposition on several occasions this season with the way he has regularly earned cautions, but he offers something Arteta does not, which is pace, and he spends more time on the field than on the treatment table, something Mikel Arteta has not be fortunate with.

However, the sudden emergence of Francis Coquelin has raised the bar once again in the debate about a defensive midfielder. He is not a new signing, but in Wenger’s book, he is like a new signing. So is he Arsenal’s new DM? Judging by quotes attributed to Wenger, he may well be.

“I want him to have a future here. He is one of the players who has gone through difficult times, but he kept his focus, worked hard and I hope he will be rewarded for that.”

-Arsene Wenger told Arsenal’s Official site.

The 23 year old has been an Arsenal player since 2008, and after series of loan spells, the last of which was at Championship side, Charlton, he was recalled after injuries reduced the options in central midfield. Given his chance against West Ham alongside Mathieu Flamini, he has blossomed; he replicated same performance in the defeat at Southampton, but was impressive against Hull City in the FA Cup third round and the match against Stoke City as a stand alone defensive midfielder. He made series of tackles, even though his passing later on was largely off the mark.

As a result of his performance like a phoenix from the ashes, some Arsenal fans have proclaimed that he is the next big thing, and as a result the club does not need to sign a defensive midfielder in this transfer window.

Without taking anything away from Francis Coquelin, he has been good in the matches he has played, although he is not the physically imposing defensive midfielder, that many want, he has not fared badly in those matches, but it is just three-four matches, and he has not been tested in the big games. His style of anchor is markedly different from the more experienced and technical defensive midfielders, they do more of marking, interceptions and interceptions rather than lunging into tackles, something Gilberto Silva was a master of. While Coquelin engages in a lot of tackling and his positioning sometimes is questionable.

Most times, ambition and the kind of player a club goes for are linked. Francis Coquelin cannot possibly be the defensive midfielder Arsenal would use to compete for trophies in England and in Europe.

It is not unusual for a number of fans to engage in some visceral appraisal of a player after one or two performances especially when that player has just recently appeared in the scene.

Take nothing away, it would be foolhardy on the part of the club, if it does not sign a defensive midfielder in this window. An upgrade in that position is essential for long term success.

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