Arsenal's esteemed academy has a welcome habit of producing talent fit for first-team purpose - and Francis Coquelin is yet another example of that.
Having spent the 2010/11 season gaining valuable experience on loan at Ligue 1 outfit Lorient, Francis returned to Emirates Stadium with ambitions of breaking into Arsène Wenger's set-up.
He didn't have to wait long, making his first league start in the defeat to Manchester United before following that up with a fine display against Tottenham at White Hart Lane. Francis was a regular in the Carling Cup alongside his 2009 FA Youth Cup-winning team-mate Emmanuel Frimpong and soon established himself as a valuable member of the squad.
Despite predominantly plying his trade as a midfielder, the versatile 21-year-old was required to fill in at full back on numerous occasions. He started games against Aston Villa, Fulham and Blackburn at both right and left back, filling in admirably during Arsenal's injury-hit Christmas period.
It has been a season of opportunities for the France Under-21 international, who has taken them with both hands to give Wenger food for thought ahead of next season.
“When I look back at this season I would say I am really happy. I didn't expect to play that much in the first place and I had my chance this season to show what I can do on the pitch. Obviously a few injuries have backed me off a bit but I am generally pleased with the season. The manager trusts me as a right back or a left back. At some points in the season we had a lot of injuries so that helped me to get a lot of games.”
Having made his Arsenal league debut in testing circumstances at Old Trafford, Francis was handed another first-team opportunity when the Gunners faced Tottenham at White Hart Lane. Despite the defeat, the combative youngster earned plaudits for an excellent performance.
Francis made 17 appearances for the first team this season