Coquelin - needs to keep his mouth shut
It used to be the full internationals that gave stupid interviews to the French press. Over the years we've heard stories from Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit, Thierry Henry, Sylvain Wiltord, Gael Clichy and Lassanna Diarra. All of these interviews have had one thing in common - bad news for Arsenal. France Football and L'Equipe have a habit, it seems, of getting our players to give interviews that give rise to speculation on their future at Arsenal Football Club. With Sagna and Diaby injured they have turned their attentions to an U21 player and Francis Coquelin has not disappointed them.
I am seriously annoyed with Coquelin's comments. Obviously the young man is ambitious, and he wants to play. There is nothing wrong with that, of course. I have been surprised that, having played at Old Trafford and White Hart Lane (and been impressive in both games, for me) he has not been involved more often. I can understand how this would be frustrating for Coquelin, especially after a season of first-team action in France last year. However, this is Arsenal. He is a young defensive midfield player. At this stage of his career I don't see how he can seriously expect to be playing ahead of Alex Song. He is in direct competition with Emmanuel Frimpong for the position as Song's understudy, and both players have been given a go on occasion. It seems possible that Frimpong might be sent on loan in January (I personally am not an advocate of this move as I believe his physicality brings something to the side, if only he can be taught a bit of discipline in the tackle). This would see Coquelin involved far more often.
In the past we have seen a number of those players listed above claiming that comments have been taken out of context by those newspapers, or translated incorrectly in to English. I await similar defences from Francis Coquelin. The obvious way of avoiding such an issue is, of course, to not give an interview in the first place. I believe the Club should put a ban on the players giving interviews to a newspaper or magazine when on international duty. As soon as they are beyond the control of the Arsenal press office they can end up saying things that damage the Club in some way.
Andrey Arshavin has had a little criticism over a similar interview he has given in Russia this week. The difference is that Arshavin has stated how he does not wish to leave Arsenal at all "at this time." He makes the comment that, should his current situation continue, he would have to think of his future. That is fair enough. Also, Arshavin is an experienced player, who has understood why he is out of the team. The Russian is frustratingly lazy, but he has the intelligence to see that his position is self-inflicted by his poor performance. Coquelin, meanwhile, is a young player who has achieved nothing and should learn to keep his mouth shut and play his football.
This team has developed a good spirit over the last two months. Interviews of the type given by Coquelin can only serve to damage such togetherness. I want to see Coquelin make it at Arsenal but, if he is a bad egg (like Diarra before him), then Arsene Wenger must kick him out as soon as possible.