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Revelation Coquelin 'plays to his strengths'

SHINING LIGHT: Francis Coquelin

ARSENAL MANAGER Arsene Wenger believes his midfield destroyer Francis Coquelin has been a success at the club because he plays to his strengths.

The Arsenal man has been a revelation at the club, but before his fine form the French midfielder had only started 26 games for the first team before being loaned to Charlton Athletic in November.

Since returning from the south-east London club, the 23-year-old has started 21 of Arsenal’s last 26 games, rapidly becoming one of the Gunners’ pivotal players. Speaking at a Barclays event, Wenger told the story behind Coquelin's growing improvement.

“I explained to him that what I liked most was his ball-winning potential rather than his playmaking potential, so I sent him out on loan to France for experience,” Wenger explained. “He played without being convincing in the box-to-box role.

“He then went to Charlton and I sent somebody to watch him. The reports were positive and I called him back after five weeks, and he wasn’t happy. I said to him, ‘why are you not happy?’ and he said, ‘I was playing regularly for Charlton and you called me back just to cover and not to play me’.

“We went into the first game and I didn’t start him. Then we went to West Ham United and I started him. He was surprised because we played at home against QPR and I didn’t play him, but I did away at West Ham.

“Since then, he has not moved out of the team because he sticks to what he is strong at - winning the ball and using it well. What is also surprising is that he’s very good in the air because he has a very good leap."

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