Date: 16th May 2015 at 12:30pm
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It was December of 2014 and an all-but forgotten 23 year old Frenchman by the name of Francis Coquelin had just left a meeting with manager Bob Peeters at Sparrows Lane – the training ground of Charlton Athletic. Having returned home ‘Le Coq’ was enjoying his Thursday afternoon sat in front of a television when he got the call from Arsenal.

Since that very phone call, Arsenal have played 18 games, won 14, drew two and lost just two; with a goal difference of positive 25 and a points tally of 44 out of a possible 54; all of which featured Coquelin in the centre defensive midfield position. Thierry Henry described his countryman’s ability to “sense the danger and (to be) there straight away”. Arsene Wenger stated, after the same man of the match winning performance away to Burnley in April, that Coquelin “contributes immeasurable balance”. It seems life could not get any sweeter for the former full-back who joined the Gunners as a teenager in 2008. However, there is one sting within his French tale which may send some familiar shivers down the spines of the Arsenal faithful. Since 2012, Coquelin has missed a total of 18 vitally important games for the Gunners; all of which are related to his dreaded right hamstring.

This is the moment where Arsenal fans need to ask themselves the whereabouts of a so-called top-quality defensive midfielder to cover for Le Coq. Luckily the seasonal rumour mill can provide the answer within seconds. Having scavenged several gossip columns for what seemed like an eternity I have found two possible solutions in the form of Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin and Sporting Lisbon’s William Carvalho. Some further research has narrowed Arsene’s choice down even further of which I’m sure he’ll be delighted to hear. William Carvalho is our man – let me explain.

Firstly the worst thing our club could do is bring in yet another injury prone player (not that that has put Wenger off before *cough* Kallstrom *cough*). As far as his 2014/15 season portrays, Morgan Schneiderlin is exactly that having missed 15 games of Southampton’s current campaign and counting! As far as Carvalho is concerned there is little or no evidence of the Portuguese midfielder suffering any form of long term injury within the last two seasons – a win-win Monsieur Wenger!

When looking at performances in recent times however it’s very clear to note that Southampton’s Schneiderlin is superior. Yet do we need a player of who appears to be more or less at his peak in our team? Where does this leave such players as Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and Tomas Rosicky? Every time Coquelin is fit, Coquelin will play. When Coquelin is not fit Schneiderlin will have to fancy his chances. This may be our perfect option within the short term however we are a club based on building for the future. With Carvalho brought in, Le Coq will be able to maintain his performances we’ve seen during the current campaign and, most importantly, develop. Whilst our current French powerhouse does that, Carvalho, at 23, will also be able to develop and become the elite player he promises to be. One of the best ways in which he can do such a thing is by filling in for Le Coq when that dastardly hamstring pulls up again. At 25, Morgan Schneiderlin will become increasingly frustrated sitting on the bench whilst Coquelin plays and, at £22 million, may not be considered the bargain of the summer.

At £19.36 million (a mere £3 million more we paid for Morgan’s former teammate Callum Chambers), William Carvalho will be able to develop with the use of the top quality facilities we have here at Arsenal and prove a like-for-like swap in for Coquelin whenever needed. Schneiderlin has a tendency to push high up the pitch and become very pro-active at times whilst Carvalho, like our current CDM, does his job in a more reserved manner as he poses a more physical threat. This style of play is exactly why Coquelin fits so well into our current squad and it’s exactly the same for our Portuguese powerhouse from Lisbon. Schneriderlin’s want to press higher will prove to be a spanner within the organised works of which go on within the feet of Mesut and Alexis higher up the pitch. As Thierry said Coquelin is “the Policeman”. He allows those in front to do what they do best and “once someone goes through that red light, he stops them”. Based on Carvalho’s profile and the rather poorly edited YouTube videos of which have surface of him in a Sporting shirt, this is exactly what he does best too.

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