Coquelin comes of age, Santi comes in from the cold.

By Walter Broeckx

Usually you get my match report shortly after the match. But this time I couldn’t do this. So it is about more than the match as the match details have been talked over and over again I think.  As you may know I am the president of the Arsenal Belgium supporters club and we had taken this day to have a board meeting. The board meeting was at my house so I had to make sure that I was a good host for my guests and didn’t spend my time writing articles for Untold.

So instead of watching the match on my own as usual,  I couldn’t even sit on my lucky spot in the sofa. The final result showed that all these superstitious things are nothing more than superstition.  So my living room filled with fellow board members and it was nice to sit out this match together with them.

First we had a good board meeting to start the day. Some decisions had to be made in regards with the match against Aston Villa that we will attend with our supporters club. And as we are a new board we had to see that our first bus trip will go smoothly and all is planned now so now we will hope for no problems in the Eurotunnel.

This will be also the first time that my wife will see a match from Arsenal live in the Emirates and as she is a wheel chair user outside the house we had to arrange tickets for her in the area that is made for wheel chairs. I must say that both the liaison person for the supporters club and the person who is responsible for the tickets for disabled persons have been extremely kind and helpful. They arranged that I can sit next to my wife as well. I have heard that Arsenal has won awards for their disabled seats and accommodations and it doesn’t surprise me at all. Well done Arsenal!

And if I may add my two cents to the debate of ticket prices at Arsenal I want to say that Arsenal is very generous towards people with a disability. Again well done Arsenal. And I will surely report about it after the Aston Villa match and talk about the experience was for my wife and I.

Anyway on to the match. This was a very disciplined performance from the whole team. And a few amazing things to mention. Oooooospina could almost have stayed next to Szczesny at the beach. Apart from a few crosses in the second half and one low shot from Navas that he had to stop he hardly had to make any saves. But whenever he had to do something he did it just like in the previous games in a calm and cool way.  Szczesny in goal for the FA cup run from now on?

Bellerin. I know I have been telling you about him and how I rate him highly to become our right back for the rest of the century when Debuchy (it should have been Sagna, the City beach sitter) gets a bit old. I know Bellerin is still work in progress. And that is the amazing thing about it. If you didn’t know he was only 19 years you look at his performance and you would think that he was an experienced right back that has seen it all. No, this is just a kid with a milk beard as they say it in Dutch. No experience, just a handful of starts and he was outstanding once again. Learning fast this kid.

The same can be said about Monreal.  No longer a kid. But he is one of those that gets the blame whenever things go wrong. I think Monreal has shown not only in this match but also in the matches before that he really is a good left back and also that no matter where the manager puts him he will do his best. Not a flashy player but solid and reliable and ready to work hard.

Cazorla is something special. A person of small stature. What could he do in such a tough league as the PL some said when Wenger signed him a few seasons ago. Well he certainly showed what he can do in his first season.  Scoring 12 goals and having a lot of assists also. Last season he wasn’t that impressive but he also suffered a few niggles and had some injuries. And as usual then the moaners come out and tell that he should be sold. If I had got a pound for each time I read last summer that we should get rid of him I would have been a lot richer.

And even at the start of this season he wasn’t at his best. But since he got back to the level he had in his first season and I think he is now even raising the bar to an even higher level. Therefore: Mr. Wenger put him on the bench against Brighton Hove and Albion this weekend. Give the boy a rest. Don’t risk him unless it is really needed.

Finally a word about Coquelin. I hold up my hands about the fact that I didn’t know he had this in his locker. I admit I thought he was a goner at the end of this season. A few not that successful loan spells. I know Tony saw a lot in him a few seasons ago and I was not that impressed. It seems Tony was more right about him than I.  (Wow I’ve never heard you say that before Walter.  This article is going straight into the Classic Untold series – Tony)

Wenger hinted vaguely at ‘some problems’ over the last years. Maybe some personal problems that bothered him that we don’t know about and are not really our business. And maybe these problems have been overcome now and he has found some balance in his personal life? One of the things I had when seeing him in the past was that I thought he was too nervous on the ball. Now he seems to be calmer. I also think he has a few things to learn still and that he can improve on.

Like not flying in too madly like he did against Hull. But I think Wenger told him that he didn’t need to do this to impress him but that he had to use his head. And since then that is what Coquelin has been doing: using his head.

And for me this was all revealed when I saw the highlights of MOTD last Sunday. The images that were the most important for me was when we scored our second goal. Most players running towards Giroud going mental. Coquelin also running towards the players but then he showed the change he has made.  He started shouting towards every Arsenal player and pointing to his head and making signals to calm down and to keep cool.

USE YOUR HEAD he screamed with his voice and with his gestures and body language.  Keep on doing what we have done all day long and we will be fine. And that was the moment that Coquelin won us the match. A few seconds of a player keeping his cool when it was most needed. Maybe even more impressive than his impressive stats over the 90 minutes.

In a way I think he is doing what Flamini is doing in his first passage at Arsenal. Finally in his final year of his contract he suddenly grew in to a massive player. Coquelin seems to be doing the same thing. If he continues like he did in the last month I just hope he doesn’t do a Flamini at the end of his contract. Manchester City was his big test they said. He won me over, he sure did!

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33 Replies to “Coquelin comes of age, Santi comes in from the cold.”

  1. This was the same felling that I felt about Rambo years ago and why the hell Arsene keeping him. Like it or not, we only can say Arsene knew better.

  2. I disagree about Cazorla, what was holding him back was playing him out wide. He’s not a winger and never has been, first season he played through the middle and was incredible. Last season got shifted out to the left and continued there this season until Sanchez showed how much better he is out wide. Hopefully, Wenger has seen the merit in playing people in where they flourish and both Cazorla and Ozil can rotate that central position rather than being wasted out wide.

    In this day and age, rotation is important with the number and regularity of games. When Wilshere gets back, he and Ramsey can rotate, Coq and Arteta likewise (though I think we need to invest by the end of the season to replace Arteta and Flamini). That is some serious squad Depth and should keep us competitive through all competitions rather than competitive in none by trying to fit every central player into one team and ultimately running people into the ground.

    Yes players need a run of games but i’m convinced if managed well we could both reduce our injury problems and utilise the often overlooked midfield depth we have at the club.

  3. Glad to hear your wife is coming with all the Belgian supporters to the Aston Villa match, Walter.

    I’ll be there too, and though in that enormous crowd I’m not likely to see her, I’ll be thinking of her and hoping she’s enjoying the match. If it’s anything like the last one I went to (3 – 0 and a great attacking performance) I’m sure she will.

    All the players deserve the highest praise for the performance against Man City. So does the manager. I’m hoping there were a few choruses of ‘One Arsene Wenger’ and that there will be more at the Aston Villa match.

  4. I also have a bit of superstition before games like this. I must watch alone, on my good luck sofa and should anyone knock the door to come in, I blame that event for a Loss, if that is the result of the game. Last Sunday, there was a 3 hour power cut (I live in Nigeria, so…) and my alternative source of power developed a problem I couldn’t resolve quickly enough. So, it was to the home of my brother, an avid United fan, I went to watch the game. You can only imagine the grief he gave me; but I stayed calm having already intoned that we were due a break from the trend of losses to top 4 sides and knowing Kompany couldn’t be at his best/Yaya away. I left there adding a few more inches to my already 6ft 1 inch frame. My brother, with egg on his face. More of the same from the lads, please.

  5. Hit the nail on the head Dan. Playing Carzola or Ozil out wide doesn’t work. Arsene has done it in the past so he can play the two of them in the same team but it unbalances the team. With the number of attacking options available to the manager, the key is to find the best combinations for the task at hand, not necessarily the best 11 players.

  6. @ Dan – I think you are wrong. Cazorla used to play as a winger for both Villareal and Malaga (albeit, if I’m not mistaken, as a right winger).

  7. The secret is building a squad that when all fit the manager trusts all of them to start in their preferred positions. Shuffling players to fill in at the start of a game is a weakness. Obviously during a match it helps if you have a player that can cover for an injury but at the outset a specialist player should be in the starting line up .If you show no weakness to your opponent it is harder for them to exploit an out of position even briefly hesitant player or one that has to cut inside to use his preferred foot and is more easily shepherded to go where the defender wants him to . In other words if you want a left hand side player get one ,either develop or buy ,but don’t ask a central or right hand player to do the things that are not natural, because the split second of thinking time is often where a move breaks down .

  8. I remember when he came from Spain that we was told he was a winger. I remember seeing you tube videos where he was playing as a winger for Villareal most of the time.

    Maybe we can look at it differently: Cazorla was a winger and Wenger turned him in to a more central midfielder? 😉

  9. OK, I’ve made it.

    I’m on the front page of right now.

    As I feature in the “best of blogs’ with a slightly adjusted version of my article

    I am speechless about this and have to sit down for a moment and enjoy the spotlight 😉 🙂

    Honestly, when I first started writing on Untold some 5 years ago one of my dreams was to see my name on one day. So I now have done it. FFS I want to shout!

    Okay Walter, calm down a bit… 🙂 🙂 😉

  10. I make no excuses for commenting entirely off topic on this occasion.
    The attendance of your dear wife, Walter, at the Emirates for the Villa game, is good news indeed. I hope all concerned will attend to her needs from Belgium to Arsenal and return. There is nothing so good as a bit of pampering.
    Warmth is vital. The odd hot water bottle and a flask or two of coffee (or the finest Belgian equivalent of Calvados).
    Do not rely on a cappuccino at half time, as Tony will tell you.
    And make sure she doesn’t get hungry at any time. Do not let her sample British chips. After the Belgian variety, the shock could be a disaster.
    Finally, I send my respectful good wishes to her. I hope she will enjoy a brief break from home and a win for Arsenal (if only to prevent a lot of doom, gloom and moaning from her husband all the way back home). 😉

  11. Look, I understand the idea of ‘playing players in their position’, but unless I’ve missed something, the concept has been slowly dying for decades.

    For starters, tell me which of Arsenal’s midfielders wants to play on the wing? Which of Arsenal’s forwards want to play left/right forward?
    My impression is that they all want to play CF or CMid, yes?

    What does Mr Wenger really want from his back four? I think he wants ball playing, tactically aware 2 footed players who, particularly if they’re full backs – can play on Both Sides!
    In short, the greedy so and so wants all of his players to be Flexible.

    But it’s not as though Mr Wenger is the first manager to want this. Flexible players is a managers wet dream. (Presumptuous, perhaps).

    Theo and Danny and Oli and Yaya and Serge and Joel and Chuba ALL wanna be Centre Forward. And they wanna be first pick too. (Chuba and Serge might settle for just getting in the team at this stage).

    When our players return from injury (or from the beach), Arsene often plays them somewhere I don’t expect, as he did at times with Ramsey.

    I could go on and on (and you’d like that, wouldn’t you?), but I’m simply trying to make the point that “playing player’s in their correct positions” is a bit of a misnomer. (A bit like “High Line” and “Zonal Marking” an’ shit.

    Thiery was bought as a winger, converted to CF, then spent all his days on the left wing… kind of.

    Part of Sunday’s success was due to the flexibility of the Arsenal player’s. So there it is.

    By the way, Walter, do you know this article is on’s front page?
    I bet you got paid handsomely for that – smiley face!!! (Thought I’d get in before the aaa).

  12. Best wishes for the trip to Arsenal and that everything runs smooth.
    Maybe people will see why AW said no to Cesc.
    Team is in constant flux, but that is good, perfection brings stagnation.
    It is a delicate balance between youth and already made players, that does and can not always work out the way one plans, but Arsenal is a different beast of a team now, and it is always improving.

  13. Oh gawd, yes, you do know you’re on the front page, Walter. I’d hoped to have surprised you. My typing ‘skills’ are like Per’s turn (apparently).

    Well done. They should put the ref reviews on the front page!

  14. 😀 Well done on the mention 😀

    And in Spain Cazorla played everywhere in midfield, but mostly out wide. It was in fact Wenger that saw him as a no.10, and made him one of the best in the league. Facts, pesky little things aren’t they 😀

  15. Based on what we have seen so far of Coquelin on the pitch, does anyone think he is future captain material?

  16. OT: Youth FA Cup has an article up about the Arsenal FA Youth Cup game against Royston Town. Well, the Cambridge News has the converse article

    They have managed to fill two 53 seat buses to get to Boreham Wood’s Meadow Park, and they think they will have 200 away fans at the game. Andrew seems to get out to many of these games, go join him at this one.

    And Krystian’s signing is up at I wonder if he has a chance to play in that cup game?

  17. Rantetta,
    can’t wait to see my bank account tomorrow 🙂 🙂 🙂

    ooops just heard they used my money to sign a kid 😉

  18. Nice article Walter.

    Sorry, I had seen that the chosen Fans blog had an article about Coquelin, but missed entirely it was your article.

    If for no other reason, to have players play different positions gives them a little better knowledge as to where that player should be on the field. Which makes it easier to produce that fast pass.

  19. Congratulations Walter for your article getting published on .com 🙂
    And lets hope the boys ensure it’ll be a trip to remember for your missus in a couple of weeks’ time.

    It seems me and my mate were the only two people in this world to think Coq had bags of potential, oh and Tony too 🙂 Of course that’s just a joke. But we used to talk about how good he seemed and were wondering where he ‘disappeared’ to after that nasty stamp on him by that hatchet man Ramires, which Atkinson didn’t see fit to call a foul. Just glad he’s back in the fold, doing his thing 🙂

  20. Congratulations Walter & Untold part of Arsenal history on .com. Wishing you & Mrs Broeckx all the best for the visit to Arsenal this weekend.

    The wonderful thing about Wenger is that his players start in a position that they play away from. His teams are fluid and movement is part of the magic that entertains. Putting players in a slot is only for those who do not really appreciate the continuous movement of players in the team.

  21. Congrats Walter, may you and Mrs. Broeckx enjoy a fine match and more importantly good health!

    Congratulations Walter and also, Tony for the success of this blog.
    I don’t comment much but the quality of discussion that your articles and moderation engenders gives me great enjoyment.
    Like you, all this tactical stuff is way over my head, I just love supporting my team for the pleasure ( and the angst) that this brings.
    It is a very human thing to hang our hopes onto something greater than our individual fortunes. It teaches us about ” those two impostors”, success and failure and that we can always live again tomorrow.
    I’ve been going to the Arsenal since 1957, seen Mel Charles fluff a penalty in my first game at Highbury and stood on the North Bank celebrating John Radford blitz that equalizing goal v Anderlecht in 1970.
    Can no longer afford to get up to London, let alone go to the Emirates.

    For OAGs only ( Old Aged Gooners). I have recently met the son of an ex-player I watched at Highbury in the ’60s, who also played for Chelsea. He is not of Scottish descent. Name that player! Clue: my birthday is the same as his (and his son’s) – 10 June

  23. Just remembered I said Coq had been magnificent in a match two or three weeks ago, and a certain regular who now addresses himself by two or three or four names and who also claims to be an ex professional footballer said it took someone special to think Coq had a great game that day. Seems I may have been right after all, Mr know it all.

  24. The money list is out again. The Daily Mail seemed to have the longest version, here is the EPL part of the Top-30.

    2 ManU 433.2
    6 ManC 346.5
    7 Chel 324.4
    8 Ars 300.5
    9 Liv 255.8
    13 Spud 180.5
    19 Newc 129.7
    20 Ever 120.5
    21 WHam 105.3
    22 AV 101.9
    25 Sout 97.3
    27 Sund 95.7
    29 Swan 90.5
    30 Stok 90.1

    Amounts are millions of pounds Stirling.

    How does a bunch of leg breakers generate 90 million of interest?

  25. @Rantetta 12:28pm,

    Here is Wenger explaining why he play central players on the wings first: “to “get used to using the ball in a small space, as the touchline effectively divides the space that’s available to him by two; when you move the same player back to the middle, he breathes more easily and can exploit space better.”

  26. Cazorla improved a lot playing for AW. For Villareal, he was playing either left or right, usually a tricky winger style. He was not the main guy there as Villareal had the best of Diego Forlan and the incomparable Juan Roman Riquelme running the show. However, he had always been technically and tactically sound as well as excellent teamwork. Current MC manager Pellegrini knows that and now, he will forever remember.

  27. Congrats Walter and UA for breaking into the big time !
    And welcome to the bald eagle , may he soar for us !
    Am really glad that Le Coq has had a good game ,and am hoping that he continues to play well for us.

  28. I would like to add my congratulations to the esteemed list of well wishers.

    Fine job sir.

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