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A side containing Gabriel Paulista and Francis Coquelin beat Barcelona in the Copa Del Rey final

The Arsenal rejects beat a side containing the greatest footballer on the planet

The names Francis Coquelin and Gabriel Paulista will send shivers down the spines of many Arsenal fans.

Both memories of the ‘banter days’ that the club has supposedly moved on from under Unai Emery.

While Arsene Wenger will forever remain one of the greatest managers there are certainly some question marks over some of his signings towards the end.

Are you organising the defence or am I?

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Are you organising the defence or am I?

During his time at the Emirates Coquelin developed a reputation as a French midfield battleaxe, adept at breaking up play but pretty limited when it came to actually playing football.

Paulista arrived from Villarreal in 2015 to the tune of £11million and instantly endeared himself to the Arsenal faithful by tackling Romelu Lukaku, something no Arsenal player had dared attempt for years.

Although Coquelin made over 100 league appearances for the Gunners, neither player will go down in the history books for their time in London, but everything has changed for them in Spain.

The goat coat

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The goat coat

The pair of them now form the spine of the impressive Valencia side that finished fourth in the league this season, but the cherry on top of the icing was their Copa Del Rey final performance against the mighty Barcelona.

Valencia sent shockwaves across Spain as they beat the Catalans 2-1 thanks to goals from Kevin Gameiro and Rodrigo, ending Barca’s four-year run of successive cups.

Lionel Messi got his customary goal but one of the greatest sides in world footballer, containing the best player on the planet did not have enough to find that second goal against a defence containing two players who weren’t good enough for Arsenal.

Football is a funny old game, eh?

A rose between two thorns

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A rose between two thorns

Gabriel’s memory of playing Barcelona when he was at Arsenal will mostly likely be terrifying flashes of Messi, Neymar and Suarez running past him when they battered the Gunners 3-1 at the in Spain in 2016.

Coquelin meanwhile will look back on plenty of ocassions when he got to watch Barcelona thrash his side close up… literally from the centre circle.

So it is a pleasing arc that both Coquelin and Gabriel have gone to Valencia and shown that they are better players than they were given credit for in England.

Driving their team to a Champions League spot and a Copa Del Rey triumph in a country dominated by Barca, Real Madrid and Atletico is a massive feat and should not be overlooked.


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