If there was a man on the Allianz Arena pitch who personified Arsenal on yet another woeful and damaging European night last night, it was their 25-year-old midfielder Francis Coquelin.
It was a surprise to many that the Frenchman started on Wednesday evening considering his poor performances against Chelsea and Hull prior to the huge test of Bayern Munich; in a way, Arsene Wenger should have known what he was letting himself in for against a higher quality midfield.
If his decision to continue with Coquelin was a risk, it certainly wasn’t one that paid off as he was one of the worst players on the park as Bayern all-but sealed their spot in the quarter-finals.
The Arsenal midfielder finished the match with not a single tackle completed, and only managed seven passes across 77 minutes of football before deservedly being hauled off by manager Wenger to stop him from humiliating himself even more on a dismal evening in Germany.
The fact that Coquelin didn’t complete a single tackle during over an hour’s worth of football is simply astounding, especially considering the rate that their opponents were attacking their goal.
Even Mesut Ozil, who had yet another anonymous game by his standards, made 67% of his attempted tackles during the match, making four out of six.
When compared to opposite numbers Xabi Alonso and Arturo Vidal as well, it just compounds how poor Coquelin was; even with Arsenal posing a limited attacking threat, the duo still managed to make five out of twelve attempted tackles to deny the visitor’s on the counter-attack.
Another damning statistic is that Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer completed exactly twice as many passes as Coquelin (20), just adding to the embarrassment for the midfielder.
Aside from the many numbers that tell their own story of Coquelin’s night, his lack of thought to allow Arjen Robben to cut inside for Bayern’s opener simply suggests that he doesn’t have the temperament needed for big matches.
— BT Sport Football (@btsportfootball) February 15, 2017
He would undeniably, along with the whole Arsenal squad, have been told pre-match to never let the Bayern winger inside; but it seems that Coquelin lost his cool at the wrong moment last night.
That opener set the ball rolling on a dreadful evening for Arsenal, and although there seemed a glimmer of hope when Alexis Sanchez equalised, it was only a small block in the road for the hosts.
Perhaps the most telling statistic to come from this season is that, in the thirteen matches that Coquelin hasn’t featured in, Arsenal have a 100% win ratio. With him in the side, they’ve won just over 40% – it doesn’t take a genius to work out that Wenger needs to do something about this.
Although his performance last night was particularly poor, the bigger picture suggests that it’s not just a one-off for the Frenchman.
Coquelin is clearly shot of confidence after three successive bad individual performances, and with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain almost certain to return to his central midfield role for Arsenal’s next match, the future of the 25-year-old – much like his manager – is now undeniably in the balance.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by Emrah Partel.