Villarreal’s Francis Coquelin: ‘We’re not going there just to look at Anfield’


The former Arsenal midfielder on the Champions League semi-final against Liverpool, his time at the Emirates and Unai Emery

A man from Arsenal, a man from Spurs, a man from Watford and a man from QPR walk into the Allianz Arena. No joke: Villarreal are in the semi-finals of the Champions League. Theirs may be the smallest town ever to have seen its team win a European trophy, and the president may have declared their recent victory against Bayern Munich the greatest night in their history, an almost unfathomable feat, but they did have a little help from a city 180 times the size. From a whole country, in fact.

And, yes, Francis Coquelin says, smiling as he stretches out in the sunshine 805 miles south of the city where he spent eight years of his life still audible in his accent, “I think that’s something that helped us.” When Villarreal beat Bayern 2-1, their entire midfield had played in London: Coquelin joined Arsenal at 18, also spending a month at Charlton. Giovani Lo Celso is on loan from Tottenham. Étienne Capoue too was there, and played more than 180 games at Watford. Dani Parejo still winces at the first tackle taken as a teenager at Queens Park Rangers.

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Written by Sid Lowe
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Villarreal’s Francis Coquelin: ‘We’re not going there just to look at Anfield’

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