Francis Coquelin believes he is improving with every game during his quiet apprenticeship at Lorient.

Since joining the Ligue 1 side on a season-long loan last summer, the highly-rated French midfielder has cemented his place under Christian Gourcuff with a string of impressive performances.

And, with some valuable first-team experience under his belt, Coquelin now intends to push his way into the Arsenal reckoning.

“I have really improved through the last six months,” Coquelin told the Official Magazine.

“The first thing is tactically. The Lorient coach, Gourcuff, is very rigorous. He is a very tactical manager and I knew I would improve a lot under him. I listen a lot and learn a lot with him.

“I improved also in my overall game. The reason for that is that I am playing much more with the first team than when I was at Arsenal where I was mostly with the Reserves.

“The more I have played here, the stronger I have become. I am very happy with my progress and I hope there is even more to come in the second part of the season. I was aware of my abilities and I knew what I wanted to achieve here: play a lot, get some experience and improve.”
The 19-year-old has been schooled the ‘Arsenal Way’ since joining the Gunners from French club Laval in July 2008 and, as well making his breakthrough to the first-team last season, was an integral part of the FA Youth Cup-winning side of 2009.

His transition from north London to the North-West of France was made all-the-easier by the footballing philosophy held by manager Gourcuff.

“There are indeed a lot of similarities between the two clubs and it was a big part in my decision to join Lorient,” added Coquelin. “Both teams play nice football, with the ball on the floor and with short passes.

“Gourcuff is well-known and well-respected in France for the way his teams play football. He is a great coach and I knew I would not be wasting my time at Lorient.

“The last time I spoke to the Boss [Arsène Wenger] was before I left for Lorient. He told me that it was a good thing for me to come here and that he was happy I was going. He believed Lorient was the right club for me to blossom and improve and he was right.”

The French tactician in charge at Lorient - father of French International Johan – is delighted with the Arsenal loanee’s progress.

“I am very happy with Francis so far this season,” expressed the 55-year-old. “I have to say that I am still very surprised by his progress and evolution.

“He has improved a lot already in his use of the ball and in how he controls the game. When he arrived, he was making the wrong choices with the ball at times – now, he is more accurate and pertinent.

“Francis’s recent performances have been very good and he’s been a pleasant surprise for us this season. He is clever and a good lad to have in the squad but most importantly he is talented and it’s easy for a coach like me to have players like him in my team.

“I really believe that his loan here will be great for Francis, for us and for Arsenal. If Arsène Wenger loaned him here at Lorient, it’s because he knew that Francis would be in the same set up than at Arsenal.”

You can read the full interview with Francis in this month's magazine, available now from the usual Club outlets. This month's issue also includes Wenger, Szczesny and Song. Click here to subscribe to the Arsenal Magazine or call 0845 301 7626.

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9 Feb 2011