Arsene Wenger, Francis Coquelin and familiar warning signs

“The world has changed.  The appreciation today of the quality of a player is just down with the money you spend.

If we had bought Coquelin at Christmas for £40m, everyone would say ‘what a signing’. I am sorry he didn’t cost any money, he is still a good player.

What is a player worth today? Nobody knows really. I just wanted to say that if we had bought (Coquelin), nobody would complain that he was a good player.

Nobody would dispute that his performances have been convincing and that he is ready for a fight even if somebody comes in. He has shown he has the capacity to play for us and play a big part in the success of the team. I extended his contract, that means I believe in him.”

That’s Arsene Wenger, obviously, talking about Francis Coquelin’s performances this season.

The Arsenal manager isn’t wrong, because there is a modern bias towards fancy new signings and supporters are often blinded by novelty when it comes to assessing an existing player’s input in comparison with that of a flashy input.

Even so…

Those quotations, benign as they seem to be, hint at something familiar.  Arsenal have finished the season really strongly and the table is currently a reflection of just how good they’ve been in 2015, but it seems as if this happens every year.  The team starts badly, title aspirations disappear over the horizon, and then a late surge alters the perception of the squad allowing the club to enter the Summer on something of a high.

That’s fine - right up to the point where it convinces Wenger that certain areas of his side don’t need strengthening.

Francis Coquelin’s emergence has been a great story and, at present, he fully deserves the recognition that he’s getting.  Still, it would be a mighty risk to gamble on his continued progression and to assume that he will grow into the holding player that Arsenal have needed for such a long time.  Because his current form comprises months rather than years, nobody truly knows whether Coquelin is capable of being a long-term option for Arsenal or whether he’s actually a Champions League-calibre player - maybe he is the real deal, but maybe this is just a purple patch disguising a less impressive baseline?

Either way, wouldn’t it still be wise to invest in that area?

Just as his defence is, Wenger’s midfield is precariously shallow and all it will take next season is one injury, one suspension or one loss of form before Arsenal fans are watching Mathieu Flamini muddling his way through games again.

This doesn’t have to involve the signing of a marquee, £30m+ player - it could even be a veteran - but this can’t be another laissez faire Summer.

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For uMAXit: Steven Gerrard & the cost of overstatement



4 Comments on "Arsene Wenger, Francis Coquelin and familiar warning signs"

  1. Ross Thomas | May 20, 2015 at 4:13 pm |

    I would like to quietly point out that we’ve had a couple of seasons that were the complete opposite, we looked the real deal for most of the season but fell away at the end. Let’s not believe we’re stuck in a rut.

  2. Chris, u are absolutely right, infact, u understand the team better than most arsenal fans do, some people just wish us to buy, buy, buy, for the sake of buying. I am in line with u, all the team need is support and praise for our own, like most clubs do.

  3. I see what you’re saying but I would argue that this is a little more unique than similar situations in the past.
    Watching Coquelin is so exciting, because he has literally been exactly what we were lacking in midfield.
    I would still like to see a defensive minded player next to him, even if it is one that can push forward with creative tendencies too.

    Meanwhile, I feel Calum Chambers has become our forgotten man. He was so promising at the start of the season, but lacked the pace required at RB which was highlighted against Montero when we played Swansea for the first time. Before Coquelin’s emergence as a legit CDM, I thought he might be the answer and I still believe he could be a great understudy.

    Back to this article, I believe Wenger will go for Schneiderlin (he is French afterall). Our team is becoming more and more well rounded, but we lack pace in central defense when Mertesacker plays, and we do not have a striker with that killer instinct. Do not get me wrong, I think Giroud is a great player and I believe he could be one of the best second options in the league (excluding Man City), but we need a striker that makes scoring look effortless; not one that appears to go against the grain to score.

    I have no doubt that we will spend again though, in the last two years we have acquired a couple of world-class caliber players, and our progression is noticeable but not enough to stop the pressure on Wenger.

  4. For Chelsea to come and park the car at the Emirates, it shows the strength of this Arsenal team. You are right t say we still someone to support Coquelin. However, it seems to me the urgency is for us to have a top finisher (striker) then we will think about another holding midfielder. We could have won the match against Swansea and Man had we have a top striker. We started badly due to injuries. Even that, we manage to finish top 4. I have observed that we Arsenal fans do not value our players. Rooney is earning £300.000+ a week but would not have made it in this Arsenal team but Man U fans are all behind him. If we only know how encouraging it can be having someone believing in you then we will change our behaviour towards our players. So let us get behind our players and give them our total support. I am sure Wenger knows better than you and me when it comes to strengthening the team. I personally had a good season and hoping we will clinch the FA cup to make the season even better,

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