Arsene Wenger credits ‘free’ man Coquelin

“ If we had bought Coquelin at Christmas for £40m, everyone would say, ‘What a signing.’”

Francis Coquelin’s emergence has not changed the club’s thinking too greatly in terms of recruitment.

Francis Coquelin’s emergence has not changed the club’s thinking too greatly in terms of recruitment.

 

v Sunderland

Arsenal v Sunderland (7.45pm, Sky Sports 1)

Arsene Wenger remains in the market for a defensive midfielder this summer despite the emergence of Francis Coquelin who, he says, has defied his unheralded status with his form since December. The Arsenal manager recalled Coquelin from his loan at Charlton Athletic to answer selection problems and has been rewarded with a series of tenacious displays.

Wenger paid tribute to Coquelin in the context of his latest grilling over plans for the upcoming transfer window. “The world has changed,” he said. “The appreciation today of the quality of a player is just down to the money you spend. If we had bought Coquelin at Christmas for £40m, everyone would say, ‘What a signing.’ I am sorry he didn’t cost any money. He is still a good player.”

Wenger refused to comment, as ever, on specific players to whom Arsenal have been linked but he did say that Coquelin’s emergence had not changed the club’s thinking too greatly in terms of recruitment. It is understood that their priority positions are defensive midfield and goalkeeper.

Settled team

The club have made great play of their determination to build around an English core but Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Kieran Gibbs, Calum Chambers, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Danny Welbeck have been missing, mainly due to injuries. The first four are fit but have faced frustration at breaking into the team.

“I know our future is only bright if I can keep a cohesion and a core of players who have been educated here and play year in, year out together,” Wenger said.

Arsenal face Sunderland at the Emirates Stadium tonight, when a point will all but ensure a top-three finish. Laurent Koscielny is a doubt because of flu. Guardian Service

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