LONDON • Gunners manager Arsene Wenger believes that Francis Coquelin is "doing a great job" as the team's first-choice defensive midfielder and the performance numbers back him too.
Former Manchester United defender and pundit Gary Neville has criticised the Arsenal midfield, especially Coquelin, but Frenchman Wenger seems to have complete faith in his 24-year-old compatriot.
"Coquelin has (some of) the best defensive statistics and numbers in Europe," Wenger told the club website. "You watch football like I watch football and you will see that, defensively, Coquelin is doing a great job."
The player, who has been with the Gunners since 2008, broke into the first team following an injury crisis his club faced last season.
Coquelin has (some of) the best defensive statistics and numbers in Europe... defensively, he is doing a great job.
ARSENE WENGER Gunners' manager on Coquelin's worth
"Since January, we have conceded (fewer) goals than anybody else. You know in football you have to accept that anybody can be right," Wenger said. "The only thing I want is that when people have opinions, it is documented and worked out before," he added.
Arsenal have scored in only one of their first three Premier League games this season but Wenger is confident they will return to their fluid best at Newcastle today.
To achieve that, he said, the London side must convert the chances they create. "We have to play quicker, be more incisive, combine quicker in the final third and we work hard on that," he noted.
"At the moment, we have a little deficit between the chances we create and the number of chances we score."
Newcastle are still looking for their first win of the embryonic season. But manager Steve McClaren believes that his side can build on their 0-0 draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford last week.
Statistics showed that the Toon players ran further than any other team in the top flight last weekend. And he believes they can get a result against Arsenal if they match those levels again.
"It shows how hard they worked in that game and now they have set a standard for themselves," he told the Shields Gazette.