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The curious case of Laurent Koscielny:

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I’m sure I wasn’t alone in expecting Arsenal centre-back Laurent Koscielny to nail down his role in the first team over the course of this season.

He spent the majority of last season re-building the bridges he had burned in February when a mix-up with goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny saw Arsenal hand over the League Cup to Birmingham City.

Arsenal’s first real shot at a trophy gone in the blink of an eye. Understandably, fans were furious and many began to write off the Frenchman.

But a lot has changed over the last year. Indeed, the 27-year-old French man even managed to establish himself as a firm first choice at Arsenal. He was eventually voted Arsene Wenger’s most effective signing of 2010-11 and soon earned call-ups to the French national team.

Great performances against Newcastle (goal-line clearance and an assist) and Tottenham in the League club stand out that season. But his best ever performance must surely have been against Barcelona in the first leg of the round of sixteen Champions League-match in the 2010-11 season. He marshaled Messi and the other Barca denizens with aplomb, worked hard, appeared to be everywhere all at once and deserved all the plaudits he got.

Last season he solidified his position in the team with good performances against Marseille, Chelsea (5-3) and AC Milan (3-0).

Based on that, I expected him to take it up another notch this season, especially since he had just signed a new long term contract tying him down for another five years. Unfortunately for him, he’s found his place in the side usurped by lanky German Per Mertesacker. From what we’ve seen this season – the decision was a correct one. He was dreadful against Chelsea (where it could be argued he was accountable for Arsenal conceding twice).

And his performance against Reading last Tuesday was arguably the worst I’ve ever seen him play. He needed to lead his young defence, but instead allowed it to get overwhelmed by a workaday Reading attack. Jason Roberts schooled him all night and he was lucky to still be on the pitch at the end of the game. At one stage he seemed to have forgotten how to tackle and favoured simply dragging Reading strikers to the floor by their shirt, or straight-up tossing them aside.

But I have to admit he has character. His goals against Manchester City and, yes, against Reading, testify to that.

But he’s not a leader. He’s not an Adams or a Bould. Play him alongside Mertesacker or Vermaelen and he’ll be fine. Just don’t expect too much more from him.

What’s your take? What does the future hold for Laurent Koscielny?

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5 comments

  • davi says:

    He’s easily the best all-round defender at the club, but his true, leadership is his weakness. As was well-exposed today, the problem at Arsenal is that Vermaelen has become undroppable. This is absurd because he’s clearly the worst of the 3 CBs, and certainly should not be guaranteed a 1st team spot.
    I do agree that he lacks leadership, but that’s not the reason for his poor individual performance against Reading. He and Djourou formed a pretty good partnership for a time in his first season. It’s more likely down to rustiness. It was terrible to see, especially on the 2 occasions when he moved correctly to tackle Roberts, but was either out-muscled or resorted to fouling the striker, which was clearly due to fear. That said I do think he should be starting regularly for Arsenal. He was a rock last season, and was as important as RVP, Song and Arteta in getting us back to a respectable league position.

  • stac says:

    Good players become worse. Talented players are sold every year. PHW chairman gone senile, major owner hardly attend matches, rubbish-talking gazidie early millions for work that do not help the club win anything except ridicule and pretense about the future forever. A manager stupid enough to sell his top striker to the worst of foes, maniacs utd. All because of pride and big ego right from the boardroom to the clueless manager.

  • Junior says:

    His been unlucky with the fact Per is on form and the simple fact that Verm is captain. Personally I like the partnership if Per and Kos, but Verm being captain makes it difficult. A run of games and he should easily be back in the side. Honestly Verm should move to LB whilst Gibbs is still out.

  • meaner says:

    Today we see the real VErm. If i were to choose.. i like Mer n Kos partnership, and sell ramsey for free.

  • kevwe says:

    I would have preferred an own goal from Kolscieny which of course he will always make up for than the 90 minutes poor display by Santos.

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