Almost as if to underline what I said yesterday about the Cech rumours, yesterday saw a new volley of sound bites hit our desktops and mobiles, firstly with Tomas Rosicky and then with Jose Mourinho himself. Rosicky played the ultimate ‘Undercover Agent’ card and effectively stated that there was interest on both sides for Cech, whilst Jose put on his best fly in the ointment impression by hinting that he’d let Cech go to somebody like us if he could have a player in return. Well, he sort of said that, because what I read is him saying that other teams has players he likes. Jose going half ‘Arry Redknapp with that comment it appears.
I don’t think I’ll dwell too much on this saga, because I suspect we’ll have a few more twists in the coming weeks, so best to get yourself comfortable and prep for this to go backwards and forwards before Arsène looks elsewhere because he doesn’t want to pay top dollar for a 33 year old with only one year left on his deal.
The more exciting news of yesterday was the announcement of Francis Coquelin as the runner up in the Player of the Season vote, amassing over 10% of all votes received by Arsenal supporters, which surely means Alexis has smashed the winning spot.
I must admit I’m slightly surprised that Özil didn’t get in to the top three, mainly because of his end to the season and the fact that he’s a creative player, who normally curry favour with the fans because of their goals and assists. I thought Mesut’s end of season form would be freshest in Arsenal fans’ memory and that would see him over the line, but it appears gooners everywhere love a ‘rags to riches’ story in terms of plying ones footballing trade, so Le Coq gets himself second place.
I’m pleased. He’s been a revelation since returning to the club and it’s his defensive marshalling of that area in front of the back four that has helped him secure the fans admiration. I don’t think anybody thought he’d get as much game time as he has – even Arsène admitted that Francis was disappointed to be recalled because he thought he wouldn’t play – but he has shown that it doesn’t matter where you are in your career, if you consistently perform you can make it.
I don’t want to be one of those people who say ‘I always knew he had it in him’, but I have always suspected – as you will be aware of you used to listen to the Podcast Ben, Steve and I used to do, as well as blogs I’ve written in the past – that we hadn’t really given him a fair crack at nailing down a first team spot. It’s performances like one I saw a few years ago against the Spuds away (we lost 2-1 I believe), in which Coquelin was one of few positives on an otherwise abysmal performance – in which I had seen something that I thought we lacked. Now I’m not going to go all armchair scout on you and suggest that I can spot talent (I thought Song and Adebayor would never make more than a handful of league cup performances and, their own personalities and application aside, they had at least a season in which they were good for us), but Le Coq had that tenacity in the tackle that I thought we needed.
To be fair to Arsène he saw that too, but as he has hinted at this season after a few games of Coquelin establishing himself in the side, he always thought that Coquelin saw himself as a bit more of a playmaker. Coquelin certainly has a decent eye for a forward pass, but his realisation that he could forge a place in the Arsenal starting XI as a ball winner, saw him focus on this area and as a result he has never looked like he would be out of the team since the turn of the year.
He deserves his recognition as one of the first names on the team sheet and his rise to prominence has given Arsène a happy headache. Happy because Le Boss is always extolling the virtues of finding internal solutions to selection problems within his team, but he will also surely be aware that now we have found the blueprint for success in a combative midfielder, we need to make sure we have a second one available should Le Coq become injured. Can you go out and buy a £25million midfielder to play understudy to Coquelin? Is it a little harsh to have him demoted in the team, given the success he has already proven to be? It’s a decision that Arsène has to ponder on for the next couple of weeks. But one things for sure: whatever happens over the summer, we have an excellent defensive midfielder who could start the season and because of his rise, we are already better positioned than we were at the start of this season just passed.