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Koscielny, can he become even better?

By Walter Broeckx

Who can still remember the laughter and angry reactions in some parts of the Arsenal fanbase when Wenger paid a nice sum of money for Laurent Koscielny now two summers ago.  Another unknown and unproven young Frenchman.  He was too short, too small, too thin, too not good at  all. We should have bought Samba or Cahill or any other giant PL centre back that was available.

In his first season I found him all right. You could see that he was a different defender from the others I mentioned. Again not the defender that chops attackers in two with wild and rash challenges. No, a defender who is strong in anticipating what will happen. A defender with an eye on intercepting the ball before it reaches the attacker. People who had tried to find out a few things about his football past in France knew that this was the way he defended in France. People who wanted a big lump as centre back were disappointed.

The more I saw him play the better he became in that first season. He had to fill the gap that was made because of Vermaelen being out all season virtually. And he did rather good.  Until that lost Carling Cup final. Where he and Szczesny messed up in the final minute of the game. A costly mistake. But what followed showed he is made out of the right stuff. Just like donkey Adams in his younger years he came back stronger.

Last season he was by far our best defender. Well that is my opinion of course. But he has shown that he can defend in his own way. And I think a lot of strikers don’t like to play against him. He has already a big collection of famous centre forwards that where safely held in his pocket during the games.

One of the things about Laurent Koscielny is that he is a player that is ready to still learn and not wanting to rest on his laurels.  And that is very important if you want to play for Wenger. Wenger will have identified the fact that Koscielny is a player that can adapt and learn before he signed him. And that is exactly how it turned out in the two seasons he played for Arsenal.

If you compare him with Vermaelen he is more a defender than Vermaelen. Vermaelen wants to join the attack more. Koscielny is sitting more at the back.  You will see Vermaelen break forward a few times in a game, Koscielny maybe once or twice. Koscielny is happy to sit back while the others go out to attack. But despite that he managed to score 3 goals in each season so far. Not as much as Vermaelen but it shows that when he goes forward he can score a goal.

He has played more than 40 games in his first two season (43-42) so he is not very injury prone and that is not a bad thing. I just hope I didn’t jinx him with mentioning this.

And after being involved in the worst goal of two seasons ago, at the end of this season he made the goal that gave us third place.  It was him who put the ball over the line against West Bromwich Albion. So I think it was not just a great success for Arsenal but also a nice personal victory for him.

This summer he went with the French team to the EURO 2012. He mostly sat on the bench. And when he finally got his chance France went out against Spain. But he played a faultless game. The goals from Spain were more due to mistakes from other players. And I know that rather a few French people and journalists wanted to see more of Giroud and Koscielny. Maybe a next French coach would give him more playing time. I somehow don’t go wild over that idea to be honest.

What do I expect for the coming season from Laurent? Well just more of the same. I think he will be one of the 3 first choice centre backs from which Wenger will pick his central defence.  When Koscielny, Vermaelen and Mertesacker are all fit I expect that Wenger will rotate them depending on the team we are playing against. Let us say when we play a rather slow big striker like Carroll I think we will see Mertesacker playing.  When the strikers are small but fast we will see the Koscielny-Vermaelen combination.

Koscielny can play with both of them. When Vermaelen was out last season he showed he could play with Per after a small adoption period. His partnership with Vermaelen has also been rather good.

Buying Koscielny at the time looked a risky move. But once again Wenger knew what he was doing when he gave his blessing to this purchase.  We got a very good defender. One who has shown that he can take on all kinds of opponents.  One who is fast, can play the ball.  Not a shouter. A  player not with the big mouth in the media but one who wants to speak through his performances on the field.

He doesn’t have the killer look of Vermaelen but he is as determined as Vermaelen is on the field to do his best. I think if all goes well this season from the injury front he might in fact play lesser games. But the last two seasons we had a lot of injuries. Just imagine if we wouldn’t have had him to hold the fort in those two seasons….

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47 comments to Koscielny, can he become even better?

  • Hans

    Great player !

  • Mandy Dodd

    great player and an even better attitude.
    Keep Dein Jr well away!

  • WalterBroeckx

    I think we should stipulate in each contract of each player that if they put Dein Jr in their management team they will be sold to Anzi Makhachkala

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FC_Anzhi_Makhachkala

  • Can anyone update us on injury situation of frimpong,wilshere,diab,rosicky,fabiansk. Also players who left apart from almunia

  • Davi

    To be honest, I don’t think he needs to improve much on last season. Only Kompany was really better at CB imo, which is largely because he is taller and has a bigger frame. Kos is more similar to Gallas in style.
    I think Koscielny can be the best CB since Sol Campbell and is certainly the best one we have in the squad currently, often bailing the others out of trouble, the way Sol used to. Vermaelen is a brilliant footballer, but defensively he’s nowhere near as consistent as Kos.
    I’m hopeful Giroud will have the same hardened attitude as Koscielny as they both had similar routes to success, having spent time together at French division 2 teams.

  • robl

    Really like Kos, great player already. Nice article on an underated player.

    @ Walter, has Vermaelen ever played further forward for Belguim?

  • Mandy Dodd

    Steve Bould will improve every aspect of our defending, as a team and individuals.

  • Sammy

    Koscielny is one of my favourite Arsenal players. He arrived without any fanfare of other big money singings, quietly put his head down, worked hard, and is growing as a player every game! I love the way he reads the game and recovers from a mistake.

  • Asif

    Spot On Walter as usual…Kosc is definitely a good defender and I think he will see to it that he improves further! He does not have the so called Ivy league education in footballing terms and that is the reason he will not come out with a statement like the club do not match his ambition!

    Only if these bastards had not left and Arsene did not have to re-invent the wheel time and again would the world have seen the true genius of his…but I think this probably adds to his determination to do better…We shall be the conquerors one day!

  • colario

    Nice blog.

  • Ong Bing

    I like Kos.

    Remember his 1st season? He knocked out some of our players.

    We have 3 good CB. I hope sometimes we play 3-5-2.

    We need to play them more often, Per will not happy if he more often on the bench.

  • Lanz

    @Davi. Please check on the stats before deciding who the best defender was. It depends upon what you eect from your defender. At Arsenal, even the defender is still expected to play “our” style. So, you need to check upon the different aspects of defending and then decide.
    @Mandy Dodd. Wenger was a defender. Pat Rice was a defender. Neil Banfield was a defender. So, how come now it is only Steve Bould that will make the difference?

  • nicky

    The example of Koscielny arriving, with much misgivings and now turning out to be an Arsenal legend in the making, should be a lesson to those so-called fans who are so quick to criticise Wenger’s signings.
    One wonders how Denilson and Squillaci would have fared had they avoided the abuse from the Emirates’ “experts”.
    When our newbies join in at the start of next season, let the support for all who wear the shirt be 100% because without it we cannot prosper.

  • Prasanna Veeraraghavan

    I don’t know why the British media or the football writers prefer to remain silent on Koscielny. The commitment he had given to us is really remarkable.

    Couple of incidents I remember are his first game against Liverpool when he was sent off. The game where he was hit on the head and had a concussion. I still remember him trying to play the ball even while he was going deranged.

    Mistakes do happen but this guy is surely making many a heads sit up these days and he is one more of those Wenger’s signings whose got a good career ahead.

  • Dec

    Vastly improved player last year. Reminds me of how Alex Song suddenly blossomed into a top player a couple of years ago. Hopefully playing beside captain Vermaelen next season will bring him even further along. Our problem is in depth, we just don’t have any. Our first 11 are a match for anybody, but over a season that’s not enough. Really hope Theo can be persueded to stay, he’d be an even bigger loss in the long run than RVP in my view. Roll on August.

  • Smash GH

    Bosscielny is xtra talented cant wait 4 da season

  • Good article i think kos and vermaelen can have the best cb pairing in the league

  • Mick

    Wenger certainly has a rare talent for identifying lesser known ‘raw’ talents and then developing them so as they realize their full potential. With Kos he demonstrates this ability perfectly. During Kos’s first season Talksport and Adrian Durham especially devoted many hours to ridiculing him and also Wenger for buying him. According to those self opinionated ‘experts’ he was the worst central back in the premiership and Wenger had again demonstrated his ‘blind spot’ when it came to recognizing a decent defender. Of course last season they had to back off after a brilliant campaign. Needless to say the Talksport morons weren’t going to let Wenger off the hook so easily so they transferred their attentions to Mertesacker who now gets the ‘treatment’ at every available opportunity. I am glad Kos has now been rewarded with a place in the French squad, he deserves it.

  • dan

    Kos is a great player.

    Nice perspective on our current affairs:-

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/article-2169935/Arsenal-trust-Arsene-Wenger-Robin-van-Persie–Des-Kelly.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

    Not your usual doom and gloom rubbish:)

  • mero

    Bosscielny is my #1 player in arsenal.

  • Mick

    @dan
    Just read it, at least I think I did, or was I dreaming!
    Wenger being defended by the media, wonders never cease.

  • nicky

    @Mick,
    Of all the waste-of-space sites foisted on unbiased football fans, Talksport takes the proverbial biscuit.
    A deserved home for those two moronic creeps, Gray and Keys.

  • Arvind

    The AAA will conveniently shut up about Koscielny; you can be rest assured about that. He’s been our best defender hands down..probably last 2 seasons. I’ll say it today; watch Barca start tapping him up once Puyol starts losing it. He is as good as they get.

    @nicky: I share your views about Denilson and Squillaci. And I’m not sure Squillaci was all that awful either; sure he wasn’t Maldini in his prime..but he was quite good in that half season with Chamakh…after that they both faded away..maybe the French winter break? As for Denilson he had a fantastic skill set and held out for that 1 season where he played all our games; while Alex Song developed into what he is now. Sad about the boo boys though.

    Btw Nicky the next in line are Djourou, Mertesacker and Ramsey. Not necessarily in that order.

  • nicky

    @Arvind,
    I think you and I have long sussed out the effect of the boo boys, particularly at the Emirates.
    Your “next in line” list is the same as mine, except (and I hope I’m wrong) I would put Ramsey as “first receiver”.

  • bjtgooner

    Agreed – Kos played consistently well last season and has become a very very good player. As yet I don’t think he has had the full recognition he deserves.

    Lets remember that our first team, with Kos as part of it, can beat anyone in the EPL. There is little valid excuse for anyone wanting to leave to play with a better team – but megabucks talk.

    As Mandy noted above, lets hope the parasitic Dein the Lesser doesn’t get his clutches into Kos. And very seriously, the club must take steps to reduce DtL’s influence!

  • LC

    Koscielny is the business, we’re lucky to have him!(and I hope he’s reading this)

  • Davi

    @Lanz – please enlighten me. Kos was practically perfect this season. None of our other defenders came close and were bailed out by him on many occasions. He plays our style great but obviously doesn’t charge forward and shoot as well as vermaelen. For the life of me I can’t see what your point is

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    The British media dislike Kos and now Per (as they still so Wenger) because they are greasy continental foreigners and one of them is a ¨Froggie¨, the other a ¨krout¨ so all is explained and justified! Xenophobia and prejudice are the hallmarks of the UK shite media and it isn’t about to change!

  • Thomas the tank

    What is everyone on about?! Are we talking about the same player here!? I agree he’s got a great attitude, and if it wouldn’t be for that i’s use the word rubbish to describe him. He is average, very average. He’s a good backup to be used for 10 or so (unimportant) games a year. If we were aiming for 8th spot in the league and no other silverware, sure great player – not if we want to be a contender and be known for a solid defense. And can we please get rid of Djourou, the dude is as useless as an ingrown toenail. Everytime he plays he makes game deciding mistakes. Reminds me of the kid who always got picked last at school – what is wenger thinking? Exactly same as with Senderos, why does it take him three years to see how rubbish these guys are and insist on giving them more chances?

    Gooners4ever

  • Aussie Jack

    Dare I say Koscieiny should be considered for captain?

  • Armin

    Le Boss is often questioned about mental strength of players. And now I am thinking of that night in CC Finals. Two players included were teenager and beginner, and oh mine how both showed strength…

  • ARSENAL 13

    @ nicky,

    Ramsey has been on the receiving end in the second half of the season. But I bet he will do a Bossielny next season. AND when we win a silverware, Wilshere, Ramsey, Boss are the names we will sing.

  • nicky

    ‘ARSENAL13,
    I’m sure you are right, in which case it will teach the boo boys a lesson not to abuse those who are only doing their best.
    All true Gooners give 100% support, at all times, to whoever wears the shirt.

  • Chinedu Egini

    Arsenal’s defensive problems seriously nd 2 be ‘sorted out’.I was cumin bk from church wt my friend,peter & we were under an umbrella cause its raining HEAVILY,I was telling him that the right back really nd 2 be sorted out.I think sagna’s injuries should be monitored,or we go for debuncy,we nd that attacking flank of defence lk lauren bk 2006.

  • labanoob

    with this kos story you guys seem to change topic of rvp in the right time haha

  • WalterBroeckx

    RVP has barked, the Arsenal moves on…so does Untold

    4 articles so far on rvp, this series about the players had started before rvp announced his bullsh*t so we will not stop this and will continue our own way.

    And we will be back on him later of course.

  • bjtgooner

    Walter – good point; we are all concerned about the RVP situation but the club is much bigger than RVP and will continue long after RVP is gone. For now there are many other points to be discussed.

    labanoob – what a twit!

  • Goona Gal

    I agree with most of the comments already made about Kos. I also love the point made about his character. Make no mistake, it was a really tough ask to step up not only two levels, but to one of the toughest in the world. In a different country, in a world renowned football club.

    There is always room for improvement and I like the fact that he quietly and quickly went about turning himself from a string bean to an Iron man. It points to a very determined character to succeed. I am sure Le Boss has areas for Kos to work on and I am sure he will listen and work hard to improve.

  • Mandy Dodd

    He showed amazing character the way he overcame the Wembley incident, even though I do not really blame him for that. He was upset, but came back better and stronger.
    Lanz, correct they were all defenders , but Bould is from a much more recent era. From what I have heard, he has been bought in partly with the specific aim of improving how we defend as a team. I gather Bould took a bit of persuading, I hope that suggests he will have his own remit. Do not forget, that with Banfield, our coaching team has increased in numbers. Hopefully Bould will have the effect Keown did in 2006. In Kos and co, we have some very good defenders, we just need work at times on defending as a unit, especially when Arteta is not around to help organise things.
    Back to Kos, he has all the qualities to become a true Arsenal great. I would like to seem him signed up to a long term deal

  • Goona Gal

    @ Walter- nice article.

    Also I had a conversation with someone at the end of the season about and we both agreed that his temperament is just as important too because he has almost seamlessly been able to work alongside side all the the other defenders in the squad.

    Which is an achievement when you consider the on paper dream team of William Gallas and Kolo Toure, who should of formed a strong team, but just couldn’t get on and it showed on the pitch.

  • Goona Gal

    @ Walter- nice article.

    Also I had a conversation with someone at the end of the season about and we both agreed that his temperament is just as important too because he has almost seamlessly been able to work alongside side all the the other defenders in the squad.

    Which is an achievement when you consider the on paper dream team of William Gallas and Kolo Toure, who should of formed a strong team, but just couldn’t get on and it showed on the pitch.

  • Goona Gal

    Why did it send twice?

  • Goona Gal

    …with the same poor grammar on both???? Damn.

    @ Lanz – I think you make a good point. It’s not as if Mr Rice & Mr Wenger have not witnessed up close and personal, the evolving game from the dugout like Bould.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Agree on both occasions Goona Gal. 😉
    The program should stop such things but well computers can act strange at times…

    You are right Koscielny doesn’t seem too bothered about who he is playing with.

  • Goona Gal

    @ Walter I am still amazed that the previous two top talented CB’s just couldn’t play together, when they should of formed the bedrock of our back four, for years!

    Kos just seems to adapt to who ever plays alongside him, which definitely requires intelligence. Not to mention the fact that he also can do a stint as RB when needed without argument.

  • Damien Luu

    @Mandy: “Steve Bould will improve every aspect of our defending, as a team and individuals.” – I really hope for this ’cause the number of our conceded goals was obviously not good enough last season. And you surely want to shut the AAA up as much as possible.

    @nicky: “The example of Koscielny arriving, with much misgivings and now turning out to be an Arsenal legend in the making, should be a lesson to those so-called fans who are so quick to criticise Wenger’s signings.” – The sad part is that those morons/bastards would never learn.

  • Mandy Dodd

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/transfer-news/arsenal-have-opened-talks-with-laurent-koscielny-1137993

    Sign him up! Vermaelen on a long term deal as well, if the doom mangers are correct and he is off to barca, will cost em a fortune…….which unfortunately for them, the no longer have