Wenger: Why I won’t play Coquelin at full-back

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Arsene Wenger says Francis Coquelin’s defensive efficiency brings balance to his midfield but the boss won’t be fielding the 25-year-old as cover for Hector Bellerin as he doesn’t believe his compatriot has the physical profile to carry out the job.

Only Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil have made more starts this season than Coquelin, who has once again proved himself integral to the Gunners despite the arrival of high-profile midfielders in the last two transfer windows.

Speaking to Arsenal Player ahead of the trip to West Ham United, a fixture that two seasons ago afforded Coquelin the opportunity to establish himself as a first team player, the boss played up his midfielder’s qualities.

“Francis has improved a lot,” said the boss. “Every year he’s getting better and he’s very focused, very committed and conscious of his responsibilities in the team.

“He’s certainly the most defensively efficient midfielder, so it allows me to balance the team around him. We are an offensive team and to have someone who can break things up and whose first pass is very good, helps a lot for us to be efficient.”

An underrated cog in the Gunners machine, Coquelin isn’t exactly one for grabbing the headlines. It’s not a state of affairs that Wenger believes should matter, given the respect he commands from his peers.

“I think what is most important when you’re a footballer is that you play and you get the credit from the technical people,” he said.

“If you can also get the credit from the crowd and the fans [that’s great]. You have to take that challenge as a long-term issue when you’re not a spectacular player.

“Offensive players are very spectacular and with defensive players I think you sometimes get a silent recognition. They take it for granted that every week you do this job. I think on a longer term, these people are rated.”

In the absence of Hector Bellerin and Mathieu Debuchy, it has been suggested that Francis Coquelin could be fielded at right-back on Saturday should the boss drop the nervous-looking Carl Jenkinson. It’s an idea that the boss has shot down.

“It goes through your mind,” Wenger admitted. “I don’t do it because I feel he doesn’t have the physiological profile of a full-back. The physiological profile of a full-back is more about big accelerations and long distance runs and coming back.

“Francis is a guy who is very explosive in short distances. Every time I played him as a full-back he got muscular injuries because you have to get used to that kind of effort. He doesn’t have the physiological profile to do this kind of job.”

So that’s that. Arseblog News is pretty certain Gabriel will get another run out on Saturday alongside Koscielny and Mustafi.

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Extra reading – if you missed it recently, this interview with Francis Coquelin is excellent. 

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25 Comments on "Wenger: Why I won’t play Coquelin at full-back"

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A Different George

“Every time I played him as a full-back he got muscular injuries because you have to get used to that kind of effort.”

If that is true, it pretty much settles the matter–Coq must play fullback all the time, or never. It’s also an example of why people who spend every day watching Arsenal players usually–not always, but usually–have a better understanding of how to use them in a match than we do.

Tim

Think the conclusion is never.

GoonerAbroad

It’s almost as if he plans this beforehand 🤔

Trez

Gabriel or Holding will do. There seems to be this ridiculous notion that Gabriel isn’t quick…I don’t know what people have been watching, but he’s VERY quick. No way Payet beats him for pace. We’ll need battlers like him tomorrow.
In regards to Coq, I think Wenger has pretty much confirmed his position as almost guaranteed…the question now is where does this leave Ramsey and Xhaka?? Xhaka is a better fit, but I don’t see Ramsey being out of the team for long and let’s be honest, Wenger isn’t going to bench a fit Ramsey. From the looks of things, I doubt Wenger will ever play Ramsey on the wings.
I never ever want to see a Ramsey – Coq pivot ever again. Ramsey – Xhaka would be great if Ramsey went back to his late 12/13 and 13/14 self. He’s gotten too much of a big ego these days unfortunately so we might never see that anytime soon.

Al Gilmore

He has tried Ramsey on the right flank (not the wing) on several occasions and it hasn’t always worked. But I think it can work but only with the proper full back – Bellerin – who acts as the winger and plays outside Ramsey and allows him to tuck in…much like Ray Parlour did in the 1998 season.

But play him with a full back who isn’t as good as Bellerin at making those runs and not only will we lack width going forward but the right flank will be left exposed defensively. So when we play with Jenks or Gabriel – we must play Walcott because this allows the right full back to stay at home and look after his direct opponent while Walcotts pace keeps their left back at home.

Zizou

I wonder if FM woukd put Physiological as a new all-round attributes for the full back, would be great!

Tidge

He came all up way through the ranks,
Frankie, Frankie
He bosses it when we beat the Mancs,
Frankie, Frankie,
He’ll leave you screaming on the ground,
But Arsenals defence is safe and sound,
Francis Coquelin, Arsenals 34

btw

When you want to get down
Down on the ground, Coquelin

EggsOnEggs

Sorry. My fat thumb voted down.

Alexis's big and fluffy Atom
Alexis's big and fluffy Atom

the coq cant do big acceleration

Andy

Is there an opportunity for the Ox at right back? He’s come on as a sub a couple of times. Given the relative success of the likes of Moses, Valencia and Young.

I rony

I would like to see oxalde at right back against west ham. Maybe not great at defending but west ham been so shit at the back I am sure we will out score them.

ArsenalANewDawn

but we’ve been equally shit offensively…

Arsenalnut

You left out Hector a an example, no? Two similar speedy strong right backs. What a concept! Short though.

hurensohn

Maitlan-Niles should be given a chance for me, he’s impressed when we’ve seen him there recently..

Steve

I’d love to see Gibbs LB and nacho RB vs West Ham. Think that Montreal would offer us that defensive stability and the ability to track payet. Although we would lack the right foot crossing ability he would offer the most going forward and passing out of the back.

bonkers

Really though? Would it be that big of an issue to play him there for a big game? I would trusty him more than anyone else if jenks doesn’t pull himself together

Paul

Arsene is so interesting to listen to. No others managers speak like him.
Love Le Prof!

Marco

Ok. Then consider Elneny at fullback. His crossing and technical ability are better than Gabriel and Jenkinson’s put together.

ALexis PACINO

Coq is my personal fave!! Love his attitude and he is totally underrated. He intercepts, breaks up play, release the ball quickly, accurately and intelligently. I’ll pair him with Xhaka who has this imperial aura about him. Overall I enjoy watching Arsenal this year. Also I found Nacho ( whom I love) a bit under par this year.
So my team will be (not that it interests anyone but me)
Cech
Gaby-Kostafi-Gibbo
Xhaka-Coq
Theo-Ozil-Iwobi
Sanchez
This line up makes me salivating, especially knowing we have some special talents to bring on if needs be.
Oli, Ox, Lucas, Ramsey, Nacho, Elneny, Holding and obviously The Jeff!
Can’t wait for the Tapas to come back ( Bellerin and Santi)

Timorous Me

Thanks so much for linking back to the L’Equipe interview. I have no idea how I missed it–I’m here multiple times a day and Francis is my favorite player, such a joy to watch on the pitch. I’ll just blame the chaos of the week of American Thanksgiving and, of course, our post-election madness.

santori

Coquelin and Granit should be the main pairing IMO in absence of Santi.

Granit replicates some of the deep passing ability and Coquelin naturally harries further forward. They need a bit of playing time to get in better sync.

Possibly you can throw Ramsey on to partner either if should we have to risk a bit more going forward.

Eleneny for me is a back up…but the way Ramsey is playing, he may even be ahead of the Welshman now.

Jay Gunner

I’m sure the boss knows what he’s doing but are we overlooking Elneny at right back? He’s athletic and can shoot from distance, I like Gabriel but if you want more attack from full back he could work.

Arsenalnut

El Neny has a huge appetite for running but he is, unfortunately and a bit surprisingly, neither quick or fast. Every time he plays it feels like a middling quick player turns him and his only recourse is to pull him down. You can hide that lack of speed in the midfield or negate it with anticipation and positioning. At right back a lack of pace is just suicidal.

musajja

3 natural centre backs n one full back in defence, not bad

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