By Joe Brewin

Francis Coquelin admits it was a shock to get his first-team chance so early this season.

The young midfielder was handed his first Premier League start in the defeat at Old Trafford on his return from international duty with France at the Under-20 World Cup.

Coquelin was one of Arsenal’s better performers in the defeat at Manchester United and the 20-year-old went on to produce a man-of-the-match display in the North London derby at White Hart Lane.

“I didn't expect to play that much at the beginning of the season,” the youngster told Arsenal Player. “I came back from the [Under-20] World Cup and then played straight away at Manchester United, which was a really hard game.

“He [Arsène Wenger] gave me another chance in the Carling Cup and I grabbed it. I think I have done quite well.

“Against Tottenham again it was a really tough game. I am a bit disappointed because we came out of those two games with two defeats - I think we could have done better at White Hart Lane. 

“But overall I was pleased to play and hopefully I can get more games. I just try to do my job - tackle, keep the ball and play things easy. Obviously you are always happy to receive a man of the match award but it is about the team.”

Coquelin has risen through the youth ranks at the Club since his arrival from France in 2008 as a raw 17-year-old - and has matured quickly. The midfielder enjoyed a successful loan spell at Lorient last season and spoke to Arsène Wenger about the possibility of another move on his return.

“When I got back from the World Cup the manager spoke to me about the injured players and told me he needed me at this time,” he explained.

“I thought I would have a chance to play this year as well so I thought I should stay and try and get a place in the first team. At the moment I can't really complain - I have been playing so I'm really pleased with that.

“A lot of players talked to me like Alex Song, Robin van Persie and Mikel Arteta,” he added. “They helped me a lot and just said to keep things simple.”

Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source
25 Oct 2011