Whilst Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud have had a large part to play, much of Arsenal’s success this season can be put down to the super centre-back partnership between Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker.
Arsenal have always been a club that have struggled defensively. Wenger tends to build his team around the attacking talent within his squad, leaving his defenders exposed and putting them under a lot of pressure.
Times change, however, and this Arsenal squad looks a lot more balanced. Per and Laurent certainly look a lot more assured than many defensive partnerships of the past. This has given Arsenal’s midfield a great platform to build upon and is one of the main reasons they’re still in the title-race.
Much of the credit for this has gone to the big German, but it’s time to give Koscielny his due. After all, when Mertesacker gets beaten, it’s the Frenchman who swoops in with a last ditch tackle that saves the day.
Apart from a couple of rash tackles in the penalty area, Koscielny has been immense this season, with his pace, tough tackling and no-nonsense defending setting an example for the rest of the team.
His performances have even driven Arsene Wenger to comment on how much he has improved:
“Remember… last year I took him out of the team for a while. That is where I give him great credit because he came back in a convincing way and took being left out in a positive way.” (Source: The Mirror)
After a rough patch, he’s blossomed into a world-class centre-back. It’s clear that Wenger thinks very highly of him indeed:
“Without any hesitation, Koscielny is one of the best defenders in the Premier League. He has a combination of qualities – good reading of the game, good anticipation, great commitment, great speed and he is quick on the turn. He is one of the very best for sure.”
That’s pretty effusive praise, but it’s well deserved. Koscielny has earned his place among the Premier League’s brightest and best.
Now all he needs to do is help lead the club to the silverware. It’s then that he’ll start picking up plaudits from those outside of the Arsenal family.
What’s your take? Is this Arsenal defender one of the best in the Premier League?
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