Francis Coquelin gives verdict on Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta

Arteta and Coquelin played together at the Emirates (Picture: Getty Images)

Francis Coquelin says his former Arsenal team-mate Mikel Arteta has to be given time at the north London club despite the ‘difficult’ season the Gunners are enduring.

Coquelin, an ex-Arsenal midfielder now plying his trade at Villarreal, goes up against his former side again in Thursday’s Europa League semi-final second leg.

With the Gunners down in ninth in the Premier League table with just four games left to play, their season rests on the Europa League.

Coquelin now plays for Villarreal (Picture: Getty Images)

In last week’s first leg in Spain, Villarreal edged a narrow 2-1 win over Arsenal, which has set up an intriguing return fixture at the Emirates.

Although he will be looking to knock his former side out of the competition on Thursday, Coquelin spoke effusively about Arteta and insisted he needs more time to flourish in his current post.

‘Obviously I knew him, I played with him,’ Coquelin said on Guillem Balague’s Pure Football Podcast. ‘You could tell that Mikel when he was a player always had something in him, he was managing playing basically. It’s not a surprise for me to see him there.

‘For him, obviously, the season has been difficult because they’re not where they want to be in the league and their only chance to play European football next year is to win the Europa League. 

‘Obviously he’s got a little bit of pressure on his shoulders. He knows the club very well he’s been the captain of the club and he’s trying to put his identity into the game. He spent many years with one of the best managers in the world Pep Guardiola so he knows where he wants to go. 

‘The good thing with Mikel at the minute is they give him the time to do his job, put his ideas and hopefully this summer he can have the team he wants to have and go from there. But I think you have to give him time.’ 

The Frenchman also praised Arsenal’s youngsters for how they are developing under Arteta and singled out Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe.

‘He has given a lot of playing time to the young players as well which they’re giving back,’ he added.

‘They’re performing very well, the likes of Saka, Emile Smith Rowe, these players, they’ve been flourishing through Mikel.

‘It shows everyone he’s got this mentality of if you’re playing well and got the mentality he’ll play you. I’m happy for him and hopefully in the years to come he can do really well.’

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