Francis Coquelin vs Mikel Arteta vs Mathieu Flamini: Which is the best Arsenal defensive midfielder?

A look at the current options at the Emirates

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Arsenal need a new defensive midfielder.

That's a statement made by just about every pundit (give Thierry Henry time) and every Arsenal fan to ever voice an opinion in the last couple of years.

Mikel Arteta is too old and not of the standard required at the top level - a similar accusation levelled at Mathieu Flamini, who also comes with the likelihood of a yellow card every time he plays.

Yet in recent weeks another option has emerged, with Francis Coquelin excelling since his recall from loan at Charlton.

But which is the best option for Arsene Wenger?

Statistics from provide an insight...

• Arteta has the highest 'performance score' (which is worked out using an algorithm looking at all elements of their game) per 90 minutes of the three. The Spaniard scores 26.82 as compared to 25.41 for Flamini and 24.72 for Coquelin.

• Arteta completes more than double the amount of passes that Coquelin does (74.87 compared to 35.63).

• Coquelin rules the air - he has won 73.08 per cent of aerial duels, versus Flamini with 61.76 per cent and Arteta on just 50 per cent.

• Coquelin rules the turf - he has won 3.70 tackles per 90 mins, versus Flamini (1.95) and Arteta (1.79).

• Coquelin completes more than double the amount of clearances per 90 mins than his midfield competitors (5.09). Flamini comes closest with 2.4.


Coquelin was making just his 13th Premier League start in the 2-0 win over Manchester City but excelled throughout and looked assured. Fellow midfielder Aaron Ramsey was certainly impressed.

"He has done well. He's at that age now where he understands the game a lot more and he has done really well in the last few weeks," said the Welshman.

"It is funny how quickly things can change in football. One week he was on loan at Charlton and then he comes back in and he has been in the team every week. He has done a very good job defensively for the team.

"He wins it back, keeps it simple and just keeps things ticking over. Hopefully he can build on his performances that he has been showing of late and he has got every chance of turning into a top defensive midfielder."

Despite Arsenal constantly being linked with signing a new defensive midfielder, it seems they may have already found the answer.