Arsene Wenger defends ‘great job’ of Francis Coquelin — and backs it up with numbers

Francis Coquelin is "doing a great job" as Arsenal's first-choice defensive midfielder and the numbers back him too, according to manager Arsene Wenger.

Francis Coquelin, centre, has established himself as Arsenal’s first-choice defensive midfielder. Eddie Keogh / Reuters
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Francis Coquelin is “doing a great job” as Arsenal’s first-choice defensive midfielder and the numbers back him, too, according to manager Arsene Wenger.

Former Manchester United defender and pundit Gary Neville has criticised the Arsenal midfield, especially Coquelin, but Wenger seems to have complete faith in his 24-year-old compatriot.

“Coquelin has [some of] the best defensive statistics and numbers in Europe,” Wenger told the club website.

“You watch football like I watch football and you will see that, defensively, Coquelin is doing a great job.”

Coquelin, who has been with Arsenal since 2008, broke into the first team following the injury crisis his club faced last season.

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“Since January, we have conceded less goals than anybody else.

“You know, in football you have to accept that anybody can be right,” Wenger said.

“The only thing I want is that when people have opinions, it is documented and worked-out before.”

Arsenal have scored in only one of their first three Premier League matches this season, but Wenger is confident his side will return to their fluid best at Newcastle United on Saturday.

To achieve that, Wenger says, Arsenal must convert the chances they create.

“We have to play quicker, be more incisive, combine quicker in the final third and we work hard on that,” Wenger said.

“We create chances, but at the moment, we analyse well after the game the number of chances and the number of expected goals we should score with the chances we create.

“At the moment we have a little deficit between the chances we create and the number of chances we score.”