Why Arsenal Loanee Francis Coquelin Is Failing at Freiburg

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentNovember 19, 2013

SEVILLE, SPAIN - OCTOBER 03: Diego Perotti (L) of Sevilla FC runs for the ball against Francis Coquelin (R) of SC Freiburg during the UEFA Europa League group H match between Sevilla FC and SC Freiburg at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on October 3, 2013 in Seville, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Watching Arsenal loanee Francis Coquelin's development decline at Freiburg makes you wonder what type of spiel Freiburg gave to Arsene Wenger.

You can be sure it didn't involve Coquelin replacing Daniel Caligiuri, who left for Wolfsburg, on the left wing. 

Caligiuri, an agile winger adept at getting past opposing defenders, led Freiburg in dribbles per game last season.

He was supposed to be replaced by Wolfsburg loanee Vaclav Pilar, who came to fame at Euro 2012 with his tricky dribbling for the Czech Republic, but he is just returning from a cruciate ligament tear.

Freiburg are easing Pilar back and for the time being, his starting spot is being occupied by Coquelin, who is the antithesis to Caligiuri and Pilar. 

On the left wing, Coquelin is an auxiliary full-back covering left-back Christian Gunter or Oliver Sorg, when they go on overlapping runs.

Source: kicker.de
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Coquelin, a prolific tackler when given a chance at either right-back, left-back or as a pivot, has only made seven tackles in 10 league games for Freiburg because he spends most of the game jockeying opposing wingers.  

In comparison, Mesut Ozil has made 10 tackles and averages more tackles per league game (1.3) than Coquelin (0.7). 

Coquelin is being placed in a set of circumstances which have had a detrimental impact on how he is playing. 

He has the worst pass completion percentage (71.2) at Freiburg for players who have started five league games or more. 

He's only completed 121 passes this season and to give you an idea how he has been obligated to ignore ball-playing duties, Xavi made 150 passes in one game (a 4-1 win over Real Valladolid). 

According to the Bild newspapers' Bundesliga player rankings, Coquelin is the third-worst player in the league. 

Source: Bild.de

If you're a Gooner, you need to understand the context behind Coquelin's loan being arranged. 

Arsenal announced Coquelin's loan deal to Freiburg on July, 5

10 days earlier, Freiburg manager Christian Streich was relishing the potential signing of veteran Swiss midfielder Gelson Fernandes, a former Manchester City player, from Sporting Lisbon. 

"We want him [Fernandes] to stay for longer and find a home here," Streich said, via UEFA.com. "It would be nice if we could sign two or three more players."

Arsenal management overlooked Streich, a proponent of a 4-4-2, preferring 6'3" captain Julian Schuster and 6'2" Fernandes in the engine room. 

 In the past, Streich has played 6'3" Johannes Flum, now with Eintracht Frankfurt in midfield, and moved 6'2" centre-back Matthias Ginter into the No. 6 role. 

The Gunners completely botched the ideal physique Streich sought in central midfielders: 6'2" and tallerCoquelin is 5'10".

Well, what about 5'10" Cedric Makiadi, currently playing with Werder Bremen, who started 26 league games for Freiburg last season?

The essential difference is Makiadi possessing a goalscoring touch—once scoring 16 goals in the 2008-09 season for Duisburg—and being an aerial threat from set-piece situations. 

Last season, Streich had one hand tied behind his back as he led Freiburg to fifth place. 

There were 10 departures in the summer transfer window including German international Max Kruse and the lively Caligiuri. 

Streich now has both hands tied behind his back as Freiburg, eight points in 12 games, are primed for relegation. 

Coquelin is viewed as a utility player by Streich.

Scroll back up and read Streich's quote again"It would be nice if we could sign two or three more players."

Coquelin, who is a backup right-back, a backup left-back, a backup central midfielder, is the prototypical player who plugs the many holes that appear throughout a season for Freiburg, a club operating on a shoe-string budget. 

With Schuster "ruled out for six weeks with a stress fracture of the metatarsus", per UEFA.com, who replaces him?

Coquelin? Nope. It is Nicolas Hofler. 

Wenger should bring Coquelin back in January because once Pilar is fully fit, Coquelin will be warming the benches. 

Statistics via WhoScoredFFT Stats ZoneSquawka and Transfermarkt.
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