Sunday 25 February 2018

Coquelin hails Arsenal character during tough week and eyes bright future

Arsenal's Francis Coquelin, centre, believes the 4-1 victory over Hull bodes well for the season ahead
Arsenal's Francis Coquelin, centre, believes the 4-1 victory over Hull bodes well for the season ahead

Francis Coquelin believes the character shown to emerge unbeaten from a tough week indicates a bright future at Arsenal.

Back in action after the international break, Arsene Wenger's men had to come from behind at the Emirates to eventually sneak past Southampton with a last-gasp penalty last weekend.

There was more grit displayed - and another dollop of luck - as Alexis Sanchez pegged back Paris St Germain in Tuesday's Champions League opener, a 1-1 draw they followed up with a far more convincing performance at 10-man Hull.

Sanchez and Theo Walcott gave the Gunners a two-goal cushion on Saturday afternoon, only for the side reduced to 10 men - following Jake Livermore's red card - to pull one back through a late Robert Snodgrass penalty.

Arsenal reacted again, though, as Sanchez grabbed his second and Granit Xhaka opened his account in stunning fashion to wrap up a 4-1 win that Coquelin believes bodes well for the season ahead.

"It was a good three points," the defensive midfielder said. "It was a difficult game.

"Obviously the red card made it a bit easier for us, but it was a tough match so it was really pleasing to get the win.

"It could have been nervy, but I think in the last few weeks we have shown our character.

"In the last two games we were behind and came back into it. Today we showed that even when a team comes back at us we have the character to finish it off.

"So that's good for the future and now we can concentrate on the next games coming up."

Arsenal return to action at Nottingham Forest in the EFL Cup on Tuesday, before welcoming Chelsea to north London on Saturday.

They are matches summer signing Xhaka is pushing hard to start in after capping a solid display off the bench in East Yorkshire with an exceptional goal from distance.

"I think it was a superb finish," Coquelin told Arsenal Player.

"I was right behind him and I don't know if he was going to shoot, I was screaming at him 'shoot, shoot' in German.

"That's a great strike, to be fair, a great first goal to score for the club and hopefully many more to come as well.

"I think it was Mo (Elneny) who passed him the ball so I can't claim the assist, but I'll take a bit of it."

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