Thierry Henry wipes the floor – and in passing supports Untold’s vision of Coquelin

By Tony Attwood (trying hard not to say “I told you so” but failing totally)

There is a story about Cesc Fabregas’ first coach at Mataró which say that he did not select Fàbregas for matches against Barcelona because he didn’t want Barcelona scouts to see the player and so sign him.

As we know the tactic failed and Fàbregas joined Barcelona’s academy full-time. 

But I am starting to wonder if Arsenal had the same idea with Coquelin, deliberately keeping him out of the limelight, exposing him to the toughest of starts (the 8-2 defeat to Man U) and doing everything to mislead people about the young man’s talents.

Untold first covered him on 25 July 2008, noting then at this early stage his remarkable natural talent, and now of course we all know how exactly good he is.

Well, at least Thierry Henry and I know how good he is, as Thierry devoted himself to the wonders of Coquelin on TV last night.  Alan Smith, playing the role of dutiful sidekick shut up for the most part and the prat who they had on to represent the rest of the world against Arsenal was by and large quiet, except when making a prat of himself.

If you have not seen it, and if this link works in your country, do watch.


Of course Henry knows what he is talking about, and in talking about Coquelin he is single-handedly transforming television punditry by introducing the previously ignored concept of intelligence.

The bit I love is his talk about Coquelin the “police officer” – which the crowd in the background sniggered at and Sky’s prat on the job decided to make fun of with the twirp trying and say police officer in French.  Twice.  Ho ho. And got it wrong.   They could have tried

officier de police fonctionnaire de police or flik

although the last one is a bit rude.

The complete nutter who was running the show started saying the word “gendarme” over and over, and Thierry gave him a quizzical look.   The gendarme is a soldier not a policeman.  True he is employed with police duties but he is a soldier – and thus utterly irrelevant to what Thierry was saying.  Why do Sky employ such prats?

But such drivel doesn’t distract from what Thierry says, and the way that he says it.   Coquelin, just as we predicted across the years, is a beautiful player in this position who just needed to perfect his game.

The way he is playing is the style of Gilberto Silva – the Invisible Wall – and that is what Thierry was describing.  (Of course Gilberto Silva and Thierry played together so Thierry knows exactly what he is talking about here.)  Equally “of course”, Francis is not at Gilberto Silva’s top level, as he achieved as captain of Brazil, but he is on the way, and we can see the model he, and Arsène Wenger are looking to perfect.

I am hoping Thierry goes all the way, not specifically about Francis Coquelin but in giving the fullest expression on TV to this latest Wengerian revolution at Arsenal, seeing, understanding and explaining exactly how it works, and keeping the raving loonies who we normally get on TV in their places.

Already Thierry’s vision and perception is making waves.  The Daily Mail today has the headline “Thierry Henry hails ‘the detective’ Francis Coquelin for man-of-the-match display at Burnley, and calls the midfielder ‘Columbo’.”

The Daily Express covers the issue too, although it goes with “Thierry Henry: Arsenal will sign a midfielder this summer despite Francis Coquelin’s form” as its headline, which takes things a bit out of context.    What Thierry actually said was, “Maybe if he hadn’t come back and played the way he did recently, Arsene would have gone and bought a defensive midfielder.

“He has been amazing, Arsenal don’t look like they will concede, they can score and he gave everyone protection everybody was talking about.   Sometimes you look for that player and they are right in front of you. But the guy has matured, he went on loan, and knows he had to perform and he is doing it.”

But I want to reiterate that Thierry is going much further than this – he is taking on the negativisits of the media who line up daily to attack Arsenal, and giving them, in his measured calm way, a real dose of realism to set against their fantasy world.

Because I don’t normally listen to radio shows like “606” (what with them being so boring and all) I don’t know what the phone-in fundamentalists are saying about Coquelin and Thierry, but I do think Thierry is doing something here to take TV a few steps away from the insanity of the aaa that has griped the media for so long.

Like all fundamentalists the aaa allow no debate by refusing to back up their views.  “It is as I say because I say it is because I know,” that fundamentalist replacement of debate, has dominated football discussion for so long it is a wonderfully refreshing moment to find someone willing and able to take them on.

And for that someone to be one of the greatest and most glorious Arsenal men of all time makes it even more wonderful.

The Arsenal sequence (WWWWWWWW if you want it spelled out) is rather fine, but even if we had slipped up along the way, or if we slip up any time soon, it won’t matter too much.  The way the club is playing now, the player base it has now, and the money that it has to spend now, should be making us all happy for the future.

I know that the aaa can’t share that and are just waiting for the moment when they can don their “Enough is enough” t-shirts once again, but that’s the way the fundamentalists are.

Thank you Thierry.  Thank you Francis.   What a lovely afternoon that was.

Man United
Man City

Two more wins and a draw and we’ll be at St Totteringham’s Day.  Or indeed some more Tottenham defeats would do it.

Anniversaries – the good and the bad, 101 years apart

12 April 1913 Woolwich Arsenal 1 Derby 2, and so Arsenal were relegated for the one and only time in their entire history in front of a crowd of 4,000.  In fact they drew their final two games (including one away to Tottenham) but by then it was too late.

12 April 2014: In beating Wigan in the FA Cup semi-final Arsenal equalled the all time record for Cup semi success.  One year later they beat the record.

Untold Arsenal

39 Replies to “Thierry Henry wipes the floor – and in passing supports Untold’s vision of Coquelin”

  1. Three points need to be made….
    1. For the first time I was impressed by Henry’s knowledge of the game, his articulation and tactical nous. Here is a future Arsenal manager, I think.
    2. Not many make it from the Arsenal Youth but Coquelin has made the journey and looks like a permanent fixture.
    3. As each match progresses towards the season’s end I am more than ever convinced that we are receiving more of a fair deal from referees. It seems to have started around the beginning of our present fine run.
    Dean made the odd mistake yesterday but also picked up a number of fouls against us which, in the past, he would have ignored.

  2. I must say that this is the best Arsenal blog ever! Been following this site for a better part of 7 yrs, and they had always been spot on. Nice read once again.
    I knew Arsenal would come good under Wenger. It’s indeed laughable how we have gone from a ”mediocre” club to a genuine contender in the space of under one year. Surely a magician’s wand must have done that.
    For all the Anti-Wenger: Go on; we are proving you all wrong!

  3. nice piece Tony and I might add that the press describing Coquelin as a ‘detective’ is also wide of the mark. A detective investigates crimes that have occured but what le Coq does is prevent ‘crime’, by watching the situation and intervening. Having just returned from La France I can report that I saw a road sign offering direction to ‘Le Coq Hardi’ which, may I suggest, is an excellent nickname for young Francis 🙂

  4. Everyone who have any decent amount of football knowledge knows how good coq is yesterday. He is so good that most of the second half dyche tells his players to play the ball long and over to avoid the invisible wall

  5. nicky

    Re your point 3.

    I too thought Dean was pretty fair. He was put under a lot of pressure from a baying crowd who where under the illusion they were getting a raw deal. They weren’t, and Dean didn’t play to them.

    The only thing I would say is that he missed issuing a couple(maybe more) of cards. But overall a pretty good performance, again, from Dean.

    As Tony alludes to, it will be a real test of where we are with our refereeing treatment when Chelsea come calling. Frankly on the last few occasions they have got away with murder.

    If we get a fair performance from the officials I have no doubt we are capable of getting the victory we need.

  6. Tony/nicky
    Agree with every word. The most beatiful part, for me, was to see a highly decorated ex pro like Henry who has won everything devote a chunk of his pre-match analysis to what Coq can do, and Coq goes and does exactly what Thierry had been saying. It doesn’t get better than that. Very refreshing from the usual dross served by the likes of Phil Neville, etc, who always like to appear wiser after the performance; negative when said player has had a poor match, or full of praise if he’s had a good one.

  7. Says Tony the prophet.

    “12 April 2014: In beating Wigan in the FA Cup semi-final Arsenal equalled the all time record for Cup semi success. One year later they beat the record.”

    I have not checked your claim of Arsenal equaling of cup semi final success for myself but I hope you are right.

    I also hope you are as good at predicting Arsenal’s success as your are at recording Arsenal’s past success.
    COYG. Can’t wait for you to be proved right.

  8. Nice article , Tony – thanks . Do hope he goes on to be a mainstay in the role .He keeps it simple and keeps the ball moving forwards. Am hoping that France ignore him though !
    I , like many had hoped that in an earlier time that Flamini would be the one occupying that role , but then he left us and didn’t really fulfill his promise. But still am glad that he is still around , along with Arteta, to guide the youngsters like Beilik.

  9. Thanks Tony for this article and for keeping this blog going. I really appreciate it.

    What do you think of Alan Smith? He seemed to be making his usual snide comments about Arsenal. For example, when Thierry was praising Ospina, Alan said straight away that Ospina was not good enough for Arsenal.

  10. Alan smith just cannot help himself. Nor can life long Chelsea fan Paul Merson with a completely un necessecary remark in his predictions for this weekend.
    Just wish Rocky was still around, would love to hear his take on things.

  11. Good on you Thierry, great to hear, what Tony refers to as intelligence. And non biased intelligence.
    Unfortunately, guess it is only a matter of time before our newly discovered Miss Marple makes the France team, that despite some formidable opposition

  12. An excellent article.

    Great to see Henry following his own thoughtful agenda, not the usual Sky anti Arsenal nonsense. His analysis of Coquelin was very well constructed, it was one that Smith and the Sky dork could not unravel.

    Mind you Sky have reverted to the unintelligent this morning – Crouch and Rednapp! It all evens out in the end!! 🙂

  13. Thanks Alex. If I were a proper Man U fan I would have been so upset with the way they got rid of Welbeck. I believe (normal luck with injury allowing) he will become an all-time Arsenal great.

  14. I was listening to TalkSport this morning (I know, I know! But I shan’t bore you with explanations and apologies). Georgia Bingham, the female presenter, and Micky Quinn, the ex-footballer, were both surprisingly effusive in their praise for Arsenal and Arsene.

    They were asking if any Arsenal fans would be prepared to call in and be bullish about Arsenal’s chances of overtaking Chelsea. One of them suggested that Piers Morgan might like to phone, to which Micky Quinn muttered, “There must be better Arsenal supporters out there than Piers Morgan!”

    Made me smile…

  15. I hope Coquelins success encourages some of our young English/British players to consider ‘continental’ loans more positively. It allows them to learn in the pressure situation of a professional game without the worry of the Emirates whingers getting on his back from the first mis-placed pass and with a better mix of tough/easy games and usually for a team where the ref isn’t encouraged by his boss to be anti the team you’re playing for.

  16. Re the question about Alan Smith, I think he’s dedicated himself to football journalism, and has been employed by the Telegraph for a long time, which means that the general vision has rubbed off on him, viz…

    a) you are only as good as your last game
    b) never ever ever ask “why?”

  17. Re the issue of Arsenal being the most successful FA Cup club in history, we’ve had the same number of cup wins and cup runners’ up as Man U. But we’ve had one semi-final appearance more than them (ie next week).

    I’m more sure of the numbers than some of the things I say (where the pressure of time and the insistence of the Untold research department to do all its work in the pub mean some items go unchecked), for the reason that an article I wrote on the topic was published by and they tend to check these things of mine before they let me on.

  18. Great article. Henry was terrific in his summary and it was a nudge to the club who they need to watch out for when Arsene finally decides he has had enough. With regards to Mr Dean, I believe he is in an impossible position. The players we now have at The Arsenal means that ANY referee has to give the correct decision because of the skill level we are playing at. Look at the stats for the last few games we have played regarding fouls committed versus those against us. The football being played is incredible and can make us proud to support this club. For those who knock Arsene, consider this: If Diaby had remained fit, we would have had the new Vieria in place three/four years ago. With Le Coq now coming to the fore, it shows the planning this fantastic manager has put into place for the future. With regards to “Talk(crap)Sport, it’s funny how a leapord changes its spots. Dozy Durham was shouting out “Enough is enough-Wenger out”..proof he knows nothing about football. Mind you, like Dean etc, they really have no choice do they?

  19. ken lock
    If you were to challenge Durham on his ‘Wenger out’ rants he would say that he never said that he wanted Wenger out, he was just asking the question. He is one evil, slimy bastard.

  20. Terry might be the key for QPR success today. It’s well-known that he doesn’t like to see anything related to police.

  21. It was great watching Thierryvision last night…

    I do think we were a bit lucky with Francis, as I’m not sure he’d have got a look in if Arteta hadn’t have got injured. I love Mikel, but Coquelin has really given the team a solid platform. He and Arteta would also work together really well, I think.

  22. Bookins for the two chavs and an injury for Hazard (nothing too serious, but a couple months, like what we’ve had to cope with) would do nicely.

  23. mick

    Wouldn’t it be great just to hear dirtbag Durham say “sorry” just once?
    Or, come to that, any pundit on TalkshiteSport apologising for getting it wrong year after year after year? Quinny has been saying for years that Liverpool would finish above Arsenal and he’s got it wrong again and again and again. As for Michelle Owen…how can a so called expert get it soooooo wrong? It remains to be seen how Spuds and Liverpool cope with the costs of their stadium builds, especially without champions league revenue. Something else that the aaa and Piers Morgan have failed to give Arsene and his team credit for. Either of these two teams would love to qualify in fourth place (for seventeen years) and call it a successful season don’t you think?

  24. Thanks for the link, Tony. Henry on Coquelin – Class on Class. Re Dean, I thought his handling is about the best we can expect. But do I detect a bit of begrudged respect from the officials? I’d like the opinions of the UA gang on this.

  25. Mick/Ken Lock

    “If you were to challenge Durham on his ‘Wenger out’ rants he would say that he never said that he wanted Wenger out, he was just asking the question. He is one evil, slimy bastard”.

    Like he did when he was called out for his criticism of Wenger regarding the ‘away goals rule is outdated’ comment he made.

    Apparently Durham had said the exact same thing last year.

    And yes he did exactly what you suggested, and claimed ‘I just put it out there for debate’, when it was clear he was actually expressing an opinion.

    As you say, evil, slimy bastard

  26. jambug
    I have no objection to Durham giving his opinion, what is so objectionable and repulsive though is the arrogant, sarcastic, sneering, mocking, insulting tone he uses to put his criticisms across.

  27. mick/jambug

    Ditto to both comments.
    However, I believe the way he says what he says is his beliefs in regards to Arsenal.
    He never misses an opportunity to belittle the club and our manager as can be seen by his “Arsenal daily” slot (if he is still continuing this). He proves what a little shite he is by not backing up his crap. How he can be called a sports journalist is beyond me. Rather I would class him as a school bully who as no backbone whatsoever.

  28. Tony, there seems to be an uptick in the number of stories questioning ref decisions this season. perhaps mike dean can read (imagine!) and has decided to fix himself. On another note, your layout is such that the main panel is too wide for natural reading. in other words, one has to read along a very long line of text before switching to the next line. I try to keep mine at around 680 pixels or close to the width of a novel. an up arrow at the bottom of the page would be nice to have too.

  29. The really sad thing is, that by employing him both Talkshite, and the Daily Fail, obviously endorse his particularly nasty anti Arsenal agenda.

  30. I sure hope this is Henry shaking off his initial nervousness and now can become the sane voice on the punditry shows.

    Yes, we’ve taken another leap and Arsenal is now much stronger, both mentally and physically.

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