Francis Coquelin is a French footballer who plays as a tough tackling defensive midfielder for London-based club Arsenal FC. After attracting Arsenal scout Gilles Grimandi's attention during an Under-17 European Championship match for France against Israel, Coquelin was asked to join the Gunners in July 2008 of which he obliged. After displaying his abilities in Arsenal's pre-season schedule against Barnet and Szombathelyi Haladas, Coquelin was called upon to make his first team competitive debut coming on as a substitute in a 6-0 win against Sheffield United on 23 September 2008. Appearing as a reserve team regular in the following season, Coquelin was given his introduction to the starting line-up for the first team against West Brom on 22 September 2009.
Born in Laval, France, Coquelin began his playing career for AS Laval Bourny however made the switch to bigger club Stade Lavallois in 2005. The tireless midfielder plied his trade at Stade Lavallois for three seasons before impressing Arsenal scouts and moving to the English capital. After rotating within the first team and reserve team throughout his first two seasons with Arsenal, Coquelin was placed on loan at French club Lorient to gain vital regular first team football. Making 25 appearances for the Ligue 1 club in the 2010/11 season, manager Christian Gourcuff was keen to capture the young player's signature however no official approach was made. The 2011/12 season saw Coquelin back in first team contention and made his league debut against Manchester United on 28 August 2011, losing 8-2. Coquelin featured as a bit-part player for Arsenal in the 2011/12 & 2012/13 seasons achieving 22 and 30 apps respectively and this led to a further loan spell at German side SC Freiburg where 24 apps were collected. After finishing his Bundesliga spell it was planned for the player to gain additional English experience at neighbouring London club Charlton, however only managed 5 matches due to an injury crisis at parent club Arsenal which thus required his immediate services.
Now an important cog in the Gunners' machine, Coquelin gained plaudits through impressive displays within the 2014/15 season including stand-out performances in the 2-0 win at Manchester City's Etihad Stadium and passing master-class against Queens Park Rangers. From returning to the club as a quick fix for injury crisis, Arsene Wenger has since described Coquelin as a long term solution.
Coquelin has been a main figure for the French youth squads, clocking up over 40 apps, and hopes to stake a claim for the national first team.