Francis Coquelin believes he has room for improvement, despite impressing in yesterday’s North London derby defeat at Spurs.
On just his second Premier League start the young Frenchman was a tireless presence in the centre of midfield and a bright spark on a day which many Gooners will want to forget in a hurry.
Loaned to Lorient last season, few predicted that the 20-year-old would return to fight for a first team place this term, let alone be handed the huge responsibility of carrying his teammates at both White Hart Lane and Old Trafford.
While Alex Song is likely to return to the holding midfield position once Johan Djourou, Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen are available in defence, Coquelin’s versatility has seen him tipped to challenge Carl Jenkinson for the available right-back slot (a position he played in against Stoke City in the FA Cup two years ago) now that Bacary Sagna is sidelined for three months.
Speaking about his inclusion yesterday, Coquelin told Arsenal Player:
“I was a little bit surprised, but you know as soon as the manager needs me I have to get on the pitch and give everything for the team. That’s what I tried to do today.
“There is always things to get better. I’ve still got a lot to work on. I’ll keep training and hopefully do better than that.”
After keeping good possession for much of the first half, Arsenal entered the break one nil down thanks to Rafael van der Vaart’s arm assisted opener. However, in the second half the Gunners took to the field with new vigour.
“I don’t think we played very well in the first half,” reflected Coquelin. “The manager asked us to move the ball quicker in the second half. That’s what we did for the first twenty minutes, then we went a bit down.
“Overall, everyone is really disappointed. You know when you come to Tottenham there is obviously a big rivalry. You hope to win the game and go home 2-1 down is a real shame.”
While many have been quick to point the finger at Wojciech Szczesny’s failure to save Kyle Walker’s winner, Coquelin believes the Pole is absolved of any guilt due to the quality of the strike before concluding that Arsenal can bounce back again.
“It was a good goal, innit. A really good shot. I don’t think Wojciech can see the ball because there are two players [in the way] from Tottenham. But that’s football , we have to move on and win the next game.
“Everyone needs to focus on what they are doing, keep working hard, keep training. We’ve got a good side, soon we’ll get the results.”