3 Head-To-Head Battles That Will Decide Newcastle Vs Arsenal

2. DEFENSIVE-MIDFIELD - Jack Colback (NUFC) Vs Francis Coquelin (AFC)

This comparison in some ways is slightly unfair as it could be argued that both these players are in their sides for different reasons, but they are crucial to how well their teams perform. Jack Colback, signed on a free transfer from Newcastle's bitter rivals Sunderland last summer, keeps play ticking over for the Magpies and starts the majority of their attacking moves, while also shielding the back four. Francis Coquelin on the other hand has found himself as Arsenal's primary defensive-midfielder in recent months, despite struggling to even make it into the Charlton Athletic starting XI as recently as last December. Last season, Colback made 35 Premier League appearances (all as a starter) and made a decent scoring contribution of four goals, as well as providing an impressive six assists for his teammates. Coquelin meanwhile made 22 league appearances (19 as a starter, three off the bench) for Arsenal, but his attacking contribution was minimal - he did not score a single goal or provide even a solitary assist.
To highlight how much more effective Colback is in attack, the Newcastle midfielder provided 1.3 key passes per game last season compared to Coquelin's 0.2, and the Magpie also had a pass-completion ratio of 87.5% to the Frenchman's 85.8%. In a defensive sense, it is Coquelin who comes out ahead though. As well as making a greater number of tackles per game on average (3.2 to 2.9), the Gunners' midfielder also made more interceptions per match (3.7 to 1.9). Although he made 15 appearances more than Coquelin, the fact that Colback was booked on 12 separate occasions to the Frenchman's five also suggests that his tackling accuracy is worse than his Arsenal counterpart.
Verdict: Francis Coquelin As has already been said, this one could be argued not to be a "direct" comparison per se, but their individual importance to their sides make it a justifiable one. Coquelin edges it because his role of shielding Arsenal's back four is pivotal for Arsene Wenger. Jack Colback is more productive in an attacking sense, but he can be caught out defensively.

NUFC editor for WhatCulture.com/NUFC. History graduate (University of Edinburgh) and NCTJ-trained journalist. I love sports, hopelessly following Newcastle United and Newcastle Falcons. My pastimes include watching and attending sports matches religiously, reading spy books and sampling ales.