When Francis Coquelin kept David Silva in his back pocket, helping Arsenal to win 2-0 at the home of the current Premier League champions for the first time in over a decade, it is fair to say many of us were shocked.
How could this Arsenal back-up option keep a world-class playmaker in his pocket? I didn't even know Coquelin had a pocket to keep players in for heaven's sake. That wasn't the first game of his current purple patch, but it was certainly the most notable and the one that reportedly earned him a four-year contract.
Shortly after that contract was signed, Wenger claimed the French midfielder, 23, could be the 'long-term solution' to Arsenal's defensive midfield problems. That, based on four performances, one brilliant and three good, was premature.
The purple patch
There is a reason we English-speaking people coined the phrase 'purple patch'. It is describes a prolonged period on notable success, usually as a result of luck. Eventually, the person benefiting from this patch regresses to the mean. This is what I have always suspected Coquelin has been enjoying.
Premier League football is a funny thing when it comes to reputations. Warren Buffet famously said: "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it." That's not true in football.
Reputations can be destroyed in five minutes but won back five minutes later. A good performance is praised with unimaginable amounts of copy, eradicating past discrepancies as if history itself had been altered. Sounds like 1984, doesn't it?
This is most true in Coquelin, where fans are lining up to praise him, declaring he could actually be the next Gilberto. That is in spite of the fact that he could barely get a game for Frieburg in the Bundesliga last season and was a squad player for Lorient the season before.
Time is up
I suspected his time as Arsenal's saviour is limited, that the gravy train is heading for a rickety bridge over a deep canyon. The TNT is loaded and the train is going down.
Coquelin could not provide the protection for the back four against AS Monaco yesterday and was reguarly seen galavanting forward with the ball before dispersing risky passes in the areas that Santi Cazorla thrives in.
The Spaniard was forced to hang back a number of times as Coquelin drove forward, limiting his influence on the game much to Arsenal's detriment. Not only that, but if it was not for a very honest AS Monaco player, whose name I have since dispelled from memory, he would have been sent off.
Quietly letting Arsenal down
On a yellow card, Coquelin brought down the player as Monaco put together one of their impressive breaks. The referee played an advantage but had he gone down it would have been another booking and a red card.
That is why he had to be substituted for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, leaving Arsenal without defensive cover in midfield. To say Wenger piled all his attacking players on the field at 2-0 down, despite vast experience in two-legged football, is downright silly.
Coquelin let Arsenal down last night, shackling Cazorla and recklessly fouling his way to what would have been an inevitable red card.
It is not just last night's performance that has me in doubt, but his playing style. He lunges into tackles to make up for a lack of strength. He tries risky passes when an easier one will suffice and he lacks discipline despite being in a position which requires it the most.
He is not Arsenal's saviour.
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