Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes the reason why Francis Coquelin has become such an integral part of his starting XI since the turn of the year is because the Frenchman has played to his strengths this season.
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The midfielder arrived in North London from French side Laval as a 17-year-old in 2008 but had failed to establish himself as a regular and was sent out on loan to Bundesliga outfit Freiburg last season before joining Championship side Charlton Athletic temporarily in November.
Injuries to Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere offered Coquelin the chance to resurrect his career at the Emirates and he has since become one of the first names on the team-sheet despite the return to fitness of the aforementioned three midfielders.
Since returning from his loan spell, the 23-year-old has started 21 of Arsenal’s last 26 games, and played a crucial role in victories away from home against both Manchester club since the turn of the year and has added much needed steel to the Gunners midfield alongside Santi Cazorla.
Speaking via the club’s official website Wenger revealed what has impressed him the most about Coquelin: “I explained to him that what I liked most was his ball-winning potential rather than his playmaking potential.”
“He has not moved out of the team because he sticks to what he is strong at – winning the ball and using it well. What is also surprising is that he’s very good in the air because he has a very good leap.” he added.