Coquelin received a lot of criticism today which I found odd because…
53 – Completed passes by Coquelin, 2nd among all players
85 – Percent passes completed by Coquelin, 2nd on a distinctly awful passing Arsenal
9 – Misplaced passes by Coquelin
2 – Chances created by Coquelin (both short balls into the 18 yard box)
5 – Of six tackles by Coquelin 4/4 in defense, led Arsenal
3 – Interceptions by Coquelin, 2nd on Arsenal
Statistically, Coquelin was fine today. The entire team struggled passing the ball, however, which is at least partially down to the fact that Arsenal played with Coquelin and Ox as the midfield duo for the first 69 minutes. Neither player shows the ability to drop deep, collect, organize the offense and find a line breaking pass but the combination wasn’t disastrous for Arsenal as Coquelin’s critics would like you to believe.
In the first 35 minutes Arsenal dominated possession 227-172 and the shots chart 10-1. In that time Coquelin attempted 31 passes and created two shots for his teammates. After Arsenal got the go ahead goal it’s clear the game plan is to sit back and hit on the counter. That’s why for the next 10 minutes Arsenal are out passed 29-93. In that 10 minute period Coquelin only makes TWO (!!!) passes. But to be fair, Ox only makes 3. Arsenal’s leading passers were Gibbs and Mustafi with 5 each. Neither team gets a shot off in this time.
Between the 46th and 70th minute Arsenal again regain possession and dominate 158-108, but both teams see some shots parity in this period with Arsenal having a slight lead 3-2. Coquelin and Ox again attempt the same number of passes, 20 each. But the big difference now is that Ox has clearly been told to use possession to attack Hull. He makes 5/5 of his dribbles, all down the flanks, and helps Arsenal break Hull pressure.
The only two players who passed the ball more than Ox and Coquelin are Bellerin and Mustafi. Bellerin, however, has a sub par passing night, making just 78%. The only outfield starters who were worse than him on the night were Özil with what feels like a career low 76% passing and Alexis with what is fast becoming his usual 70-something pass rate.
Wenger tried to bring Elneny on in the 69th minute to change the game but despite Elneny’s 100% (11/11) passing, Arsenal dropped to a 80% completion rate (60/74). Again, Coquelin was solid here with a 9/9 performance in that final 25 minutes. That means Coquelin and Elneny were 20/20 together leaving the rest of Arsenal to pass 40/54 – 74%.
Even that percentage is a bit misleading. The back players like Koscielny, Gibbs, Mustafi, and Bellerin were all near perfect in this period. Gibbs misplaced 2, Mustafi 2, Alexis 2, Welbeck 2, Iwobi 1, and Cech 5. Basically, we has a low percentage because we let Cech take a bunch of our passes and we really didn’t have anyone to pass to.
But the people who hate Coquelin see in all of this evidence that Coquelin is the problem. If Arsenal go long ball in the last 25 minutes, that’s because Coquelin can’t advance the ball, goes the argument. And so on.
Instead, I see a player doing exactly what he’s asked to do. He may have a limited skillset in possession but he did create two shots and took one (very poorly struck) shot for himself. He’s also an effective shield in front of the back four and he did very well today playing with two very different center mids who he hasn’t had much chance to play with this season.
10 – Shots Arsenal took in the first 35 minutes of the match today against Hull
18 – Shots Arsenal took in the first 35 minutes of the previous five Premier League matches, total
1 – Shots Arsenal allowed Hull to take in the first 35 minutes of the match today
26 – Shots Arsenal allowed the opposition to take in the Previous five Premier League matches, total
1 – Match Arsenal finally got off to a strong start!
Sources: 442 StatsZone App, WhoScored.com, and my personal database