Francis Coquelin admits his return to the Arsenal first team came as a surprise.

The midfielder joined Championship side Charlton Athletic on loan in November but was recalled ahead of Arsenal’s match against Newcastle United on December 13 last year.

Coquelin has featured regularly since then and remains grateful for his time at the Valley.

Without Charlton, I probably wouldn’t be here because I wasn’t performing that well but they gave me the chance to play and I wasn’t out of fitness when I came back

“It’s weird because the way it happened was so sudden, so I didn’t expect it,” he told Arsenal Player. “I trained with the team all week and on Monday I was going to see the Charlton manager with a few other people about a change of formation.

“He explained what he wanted me to do and told me I would be a big part of the formation.

“Then on the Thursday night, I was at home watching tv and got the call from Arsenal. That’s football and you just need to take it.

“I felt a little bit bad about Charlton because we had trained all week, were ready for the game and it was so sudden.

“It’s part of football and my [focus] went to the Newcastle game as soon as Arsenal called me. I tried to give my best when I came on.

“Without Charlton, I probably wouldn’t be here because I wasn’t performing that well but they gave me the chance to play and I wasn’t out of fitness when I came back. I think that helped me a lot.”

Francis Coquelin in action at Southampton
Francis Coquelin in action at Southampton

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Nik Brumsack 5 Feb 2015