Player of the Season: in second place...

This week we'll reveal the Vitality Player of the Season - as voted by the fans.

In second place in our poll is Francis Coquelin. The French midfielder was the surprise package of the campaign and received 10.4 per cent of the votes.

Arsenal news editor Rob Kelly gives his verdict on the 23-year-old.

When Francis Coquelin raised his arms aloft as the full-time whistle blew in the FA Cup final, the true scope of his footballing journey must have hit home.

Six months earlier, the 23-year-old just come off the back of a home defeat against Ipswich with loan club Charlton. A return to Arsenal seemed unlikely, let alone a starring role in the rest of their season.

"You know the balance of the team sometimes depends on one player who has some characteristics that the others don't"

Arsene Wenger

But then fate interrupted. As the Gunners rued the loss of captain Mikel Arteta with a calf injury, the call went out to Coquelin. His recall - a reluctant recall he admits - presented him with a last chance to prove his worth. And how he took it.

His midfield partnership with Santi Cazorla emerged as the season's most surprising success story, the two players’ skill-sets complementing each other perfectly. Never was this more perfectly illustrated than in January’s 2-0 win at Manchester City, a landmark result that saw Coquelin play the anchor role to perfection.

The big performances kept on coming. After coming second in January’s Player of the Month poll, Coquelin took the award for himself five weeks later. His team-mates were at pains to point out the balance he adds to the side, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain describing Coquelin as the first name on his teamsheet.

The Frenchman reserved his most complete performance for the biggest game of the season: the FA Cup final. It was a display of such physicality and maturity that Aston Villa wilted in the face of it.

He took his time, but Francis Coquelin has truly arrived.


Alex has been impressed with Francis

Alex has been impressed with Francis



“He’s been really good. He’s very aggressive and doesn’t give the opposition much time on the ball, and that’s why he wins so many tackles. Then he wins the ball and makes us tick over. It is quite comforting knowing that one of the midfielders is behind you in position, thinking more defensively.”
Aaron Ramsey

“He’s shown his individual quality winning the ball and passing it quickly, and he’s very strong in challenges. He also contributes to the balance of the team and that’s very difficult to measure. You know the balance of the team sometimes depends on one player who has some characteristics that the others don’t.”
Arsene Wenger

“I’ve known him for a long time and knew that he has the quality to play for Arsenal. Now he is ready in his head and you can see that - he’s very important because we are stronger in defence [with him]. He cuts out little balls in front of us and after he has the quality technically to give some good passes.”
Laurent Koscielny


Francis Coquelin with the FA Cup

Francis Coquelin with the FA Cup



May 30, 2015: Aston Villa 0-4 Arsenal
Coquelin showed no trace of nerves in the biggest game of his career, patrolling the space in front of the back four and winning the ball with a combination of stealth and physicality. He started the move for the opening goal with a raking crossfield pass and was one of the stars of fantastic team performance.

January 18, 2015: Manchester City 0-2 Arsenal
Some youngsters would be overawed by the likes of Sergio Aguero and David Silva. Not Coquelin. He was the totemic presence his side needed, winning the ball back, cutting off attacks and feeding the electric Santi Cazorla from deep. A superb performance amid a watershed result for the team.


Francis Coquelin has unquestionably been the revelation of Arsenal’s season, returning from a loan spell at Charlton to become a fixture in the first team. Having impressed in his younger years with his calm distribution and intelligent positioning, Coquelin has developed a more physical edge to his game, storming into tackles and scrapping in front of the defence to constantly dispossess opponents. Arsenal’s creative players have shone, but Coquelin has been the player providing the steady platform to allow them to attack.

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