Arsenal winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has praised team-mate Francis Coquelin’s impact on the side since his return to the first-team squad.
Coquelin returned to the Emirates Stadium from The Valley in mid-December and has gone on to feature in the Gunners’ last nine matches in all competitions, a sequence that has seen Arsene Wenger’s side lose only once.
The 21-year-old was particularly impressive during his side’s surprise 2-0 victory over reigning champions Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on January 18, cementing his place in the heart of the Gunners’ midfield.
Now Oxlade-Chamberlain has singled out the Frenchman for particular praise, believing his time in the Arsenal first team has finally arrived.
He said: “He’s been really patient and I’m sure there’s been tough times for him since he’s been at the club. I know everyone here has always known what a talent he’s been, it’s just been a case of the numbers and the type of personnel that we’ve had. It can be hard.”
The England international believes the midfielder, who also had a spell on loan at Ligue 1 Lorient, has benefitted from his time away from the Emirates, both in England and abroad.
He added: “Since he’s come back, he’s taken his opportunities, he’s taken his chances to show how good he is and now I see him as a big part of our team. He is a really influential and key part to our success”
Next up for the Gunners is a home match with Aston Villa on Sunday.
The hosts are 1.25 favourites to win against a struggling Villa side, with the visitors available at 11.34. The draw is at 5.50.