Football is a game of opinions, and if you’re a pundit, the chances are you’re going to be full of them. But that doesn’t mean they’re always going to be right.
And Charlie Nicholas’ latest thoughts about what Arsenal should do with midfielder Francis Coquelin in the summer will certainly raise more than a few eyebrows.
“When everybody’s fit and fresh Coquelin would be lucky to get in the 18 [man squad]” said Nicholas.
“He’ll do a job short-term and after that you’d think they’d get a decent price for him. It puts his value up and I would sell him in the summer when everybody is fit.”
But doing exactly that would leave Arsene Wenger with a massive problem on his hands.
Granted, we get Nicholas’ point to an extent about the number of central midfielders that’ll be at the French boss’ disposal when everyone is fit.
But with no guarantee on the future of Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla approaching the latter stages of a career which is fast becoming plagued by injuries, selling Coquelin would leave Arsenal dangerously short in the middle.
Finally, it seems in Coquelin, the Gunners have a genuine, out-and-out, defensive-minded midfielder, something many would say they’ve been lacking for several years.
There’s nobody else quite like the tenacious 25-year-old currently in their set-up. While summer signing Granit Xhaka has shown glimpses of what he’s capable of, he’s certainly not somebody you’d rely on defensively.
And Mohamed Elneny is considered the athlete of the engine room, covering plenty of ground throughout 90 minutes, while Santi Cazorla’s strengths lie on the ball and in going forward.
Coquelin, on the other hand, gives Wenger the perfect balance in the middle of the park.
And it’s worth noting that only Manchester United’s Ander Herrera has contributed to more interceptions per match from central midfield, who’s making roughly 2.8 per-game.
Add to that the fact that just four midfielders in the Premier League are currently averaging more tackles per game than Coquelin (3) – and it’s hard to see why Nicholas thinks the Gunners would be better off without him.
On the whole, it’s not been the best of seasons for Arsenal.
Plenty of Gooners will consider their side out of the title race, but one positive they’ll take from the season so far is the continued improvement of Coquelin over the last 18 months or so.
Aside from the obvious two names, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, the Frenchman would be right up there in terms of one of the key players of the year for the north London outfit.
Some are even touting him as a future captain at the Emirates.
But, just as we started the article, it’s worth mentioning again that football is a game of opinions.
Charlie Nicholas has given his, and we’ve given ours. But we want to know what you think.
Should Coquelin be sold in the summer, or does he have a key role to play? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing