Robert Pires has heaped praise on Francis Coquelin by claiming the young Frenchman reminds him of former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira, and for that reason he believes the midfielder has a very bright future at the Emirates Stadium.
The retired 'Invincible' was asked about the 23-year-old ahead of the Gunners' FA Cup quarter-final clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford, and he responded by stating that the former Charlton Athletic loanee could hold the key to success for Arsene Wenger's side on Monday evening.
With only two victories at the Theatre of Dreams over the past ten years, Pires says that the presence of Coquelin as Arsenal's midfield enforcer will prove pivotal if the visitors are going to win the war against the Red Devils.
"Coquelin is a good player," Pires was quoted by The Express. "He's really important for Wenger and the team. I believe a lot in him. He has a good future.
"He's better defensively than their other midfielders – a warrior type. He puts more aggression into the position and that's important.
"He's more like a Patrick Vieira or Ray Parlour. He will be important at Old Trafford because he is No1 in the tackle.
"This is a good opportunity for him to prove himself. It is a tough game. You need to play hard. But I believe in him. He has a good mentality and he's a strong player. He works so hard and he's clever with his movement too."
The lack of an uncompromising physical presence in the middle of the park is what has prevented Arsenal from achieving much success over the past few years, but in Coquelin they look to have finally found someone capable of rolling their sleeves up and protecting Wenger's back four.
It's a meteoric rise that the defensive midfielder has enjoyed in 2015 having spent the first part of the season out on loan in the Championship. Wenger even admitted in a recent press conference that he was considering selling the former France U21 international.
"He's more like a Patrick Vieira or Ray Parlour," - Robert Pires on Francis Coquelin
However, an untimely injury to Mikel Arteta presented Coquelin with a way back into the Arsenal first-team fold, and he's not stopped to look back after impressing everyone with his level of commitment.
Pressed for a prediction on the outcome of tonight's game, Pires kept his cards close to his chest, but intimated he was fairly confident that the current holders would come out on top against Manchester United.
Now or never
"Playing in this stadium is very difficult for Arsenal," he concluded. "But I hope we can change history there. This is a great opportunity to do it.
"I think they can beat United. They would be favourites for the cup if they do. But I think they are favourites anyway."
Arsenal fans: Do you agree that Francis Coquelin is the answer to Arsene Wenger's defensive midfield problem? Do you think he can establish himself as a mainstay in the team, or will the Gunners boss try and bring someone in during the summer? Share your thoughts below!
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