The French midfielder has become a key player for manager Arsene Wenger since the turn of the year as he’s forged an good partnership in the Gunners engine room alongside Santi Cazorla and his defensive mindset has seen the club pick up positive results against the bigger teams in the Premier League.
He was left out of the starting XI for the first time this season during the Champions League opener against Dinamo Zagreb on Wednesday night and his absence was sorely missed as his replacement Mikel Arteta struggled on his first start in nine months and the team slumped to a disappointing 2-1 loss in Croatia.
Coquelin is likely to be handed a recall for the huge London derby against Chelsea on Saturday and Keown believes his old side can’t afford to rest the 24-year-old in big games:
“Francis Coquelin has now become almost irreplaceable because they do not have anyone else who can do his job as a disciplined defensive midfielder,” the former Gunners defender told BBC Sport.
“What has become obvious is that, no matter who Arsenal are playing, without Coquelin they do not have the necessary balance in midfield,” Keown added.
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