Welcome Laurent, do us another Verminator act

As you’ll know, Laurent Koscielny is our latest new signing.

If we want to be honest before his name was linked with Arsenal not many of us had heard his name. And I have to confess that I never had heard of him before either. I must say that I did on occasion look at a match from the French Ligue 1 when Bordeaux was playing when we had been linked with Chamakh. But I can’t remember seeing any match of Lorient in that period.

So another unknown French, or is it Polish, player comes to Arsenal. Some have already made up their mind and know for sure that he is not good enough and will never be good enough. I think these are the same persons who said the same thing about Sagna, Vermaelen, Clichy, and many others that were unknown to most of the English fans.

Of course we don’t know yet if he will turn out a new Vermaelen.  We just will wait and see. But what we can do is have a look at what he has done so far in his career and look at some statistics from the French league.

To start with is maybe an important issue for some fans: his height. Well he is 1,86 m or 6 ft 1 in tall. He is taller than Vermaelen so that is already out of the way.

He was born on 10 September 1985 in Tulle, which is, as you will guess, in France.  He started his career with Guingamp but then he went to Tours where he scored 5 goals in the season 2008-2009 as a defender. Tours was a team in the second French division and at the end of that season he was voted in the best XI by his colleagues from the second division.

He then went to Lorient last summer and he had another great season, again was having a very big part in their comfortable season in the league which ended with a 7th place.

He started 35 games of the 38 in total and this could show that he normally is a player that is not prone to injury. I would say that this is something, when you look at our injury crisis we most have, very important.

He plays very well with both feet. He is naturally right ooted but he mostly played on the left hand side of the centre back position last season and he uses his left foot just like his right. He is a very good header, so it seems, and he has an eye for the right interception at the right time.

He wins a lot of balls and in fact he was the defender who won most balls in the Ligue 1 last year. In average he won 19 balls per game. The average of other defenders in his place was 13 balls won. In his best game he won 36 balls in one game. That means that he won a ball every 2,5 minutes. I must say that looks impressive.

In both this statistics he was the best in the Ligue 1 last season. In the official statistics of the Ligue 1 they named him and they even used his name to advertise for this year review. They said about him that it looks that he monopolizes the spot of the defender who nicks the most balls away. And they go further by saying: “Do we dare to say he was the best defender in the French Ligue 1 last season?”

If we take his last season in total and put it in numbers we get something like this:

In the league he started 35 games. In these 35 games he played 3.115 minutes and that is an average of 89 minutes per game. I think it is fair to say that he always started when he was fit and only left the field when he got a knock.

In those 35 league games he scored 3 goals. In average he touches the ball some 36 times in a match and in total he loses some 10 balls in a game. These lost balls can be anything from sliding a ball out of play to giving possession to the other team.  .

In total he had 9 shots on goal, he is a defender after all, and 5 of them were on target. He averages some 28 passes in a game and 22 of them come to a team mate.

And by being maybe the best defender in the French league last season he did this with just 39 fouls committed in his 35 games. So he doesn’t look like a defender that gives away many free kicks. In fact he suffered almost as many fouls as he made himself. He was fouled 32 times in the whole season. And in 35 games he only got 3 yellow cards behind his name.

So if we can believe the statistics we have bought a defender that wins a lot of balls and doing this in a way without making to many fouls and rarely get booked when he makes a foul.

In fact the worst moment of his career last season was when Lorient played Bordeaux in the French Ligue cup. Koscielny fouled Chamakh and got sent off the field as he was the last defender. So he will be glad that he will be in the same team this time around.

And also this maybe brings back a little reminder of the fact that when Vermaelen met Van Persie the last time before they became team mates they were involved in an incident with both players looking ready to strangle the other.

And in his first interview with Arsenal he said that from the moment that he heard that Arsenal and Wenger wanted him he immediately made up his mind. Remember Vermaelen last season: “When Wenger wants you to join The Arsenal, you just go.”

So for those who already know that Koscielny is not good enough I would just ask them to remember all those “unknown” players Wenger bought before that turned out to be great players when we actually saw them play. Just give this guy an honest chance to become a real Gunner.

Welcome Laurent, here is one web site that will give you the support you need.

PS: For the others who will not want to give you their support from the first moment: Wenger just said that he is still in the market for another defender.


The first of the real Arsenal greats

Historical fiction on acid

I want to know everything and I want to know it now

38 Replies to “Welcome Laurent, do us another Verminator act”

  1. It would be a bit silly to judge someone before they play a match in the EPL. I still maintain that if Gallas and last year’s star recruit had remained fit and healthy through to season’s end, Arsenal would finish at or near the summit. And if Robin had been fit as well, we’d damn near win the league. I said both those the latter in about September and the former in about January. So no benefit of hindsight there……..

    I suspect Wenger is hoping to sign one more and offer Campbell a squad member role, including working with youngsters, to ensure we enjoy 5 centre halfs who can compete in the EPL and ECL. Whether he will get that, we will see in the weeks ahead…

    There is one other deal combination I can see which makes sense at the moment, which I would endorse if it happened but will remain schtumm about until it does.

    It was also of interest that photos 1 and 2 at http://www.arsenal.com on day 1 of training featured Samir Nasri…………

  2. great article again, I remember In jan when we missed out on Smalling fans having a right go, and if I remember right Smalling has scored an own goal or made a mistake leading to a goal every game I have watched. Lourent is far more proven and experienced than Smalling and from what I hear an intelligent player who knows he will need to keep working hard and improve further. Also AW has come out and said that he is still looking for another CB so he will face competition for his place. I rather have a unknown, hard working good CB then a very well known and famous Silvest in our back four

  3. Welcome to the family, Laurent..

    His stats for the last season with Lorient is awesome considering the fact that he played for the 3rd division club few seasons back. The stat which caught my eye was the number fouls he gave!!! Roughly 1 foul a game but wins around 19 balls a game!!! This stat is impressive. For me personally, this is kind of player I would like to see.

    I havent seen his games but from what I’ve read, he seems to be similar to Denilson in his game ie intercepting instead of tackling for a foul. It could be interesting to watch these 2 play 2gether along side Vermaelen and Song. 2 Tacklers and 2 intercepters in the middle of the park!!!

  4. To all the people who already are on his arse. Way to show fandom. Remember the bad old days. Kenny Samnson, and Viv Anderson, English international Full Backs. Were replaced by 2 guys who were not known to english Shores. Lee Dixon and Nigel Winterburn. Which 2 are considerd the best defenders at the club? I’ll wait…..

  5. Infact with what i have just read about laurent now really pleased me alot. from my deepest heart, you are welcome to a great club.

  6. Personally I though Le Twat reached a new nadir of stupidity the other day when they asserted

    “no one has heard of Kosienly but he has been our number one target since the window opened, I don’t care what he’s like, buying a player who has played in a crap league for one season doesn’t do it for me”

    The inference seems to be we should challenging for big name signings. What a ludicrous attitude – mine is the reverse: I’m not against big name signings but if you are good enough to pull on the shirt and perform brilliantly then you are good enough full stop. You can argue it is risky but is it any more risky than signing an overpaid prima donna? Just look at Robinho. Or in a different way Nani or Andersen, big money fees do not guarantee anything.

    Of course one could argue that paying £10 Mil for a relative unknown is a gamble but it would be unusual in the extreme for Wenger to doggedly pursue a target and pay over the odds and have them turn out to be a failure. The only examples I can think of are Reyes and Jeffers which is not bad at over the last 11+ years.

    I swear to God the doomers are moving towards a new phase where they actually WANT the club to do badly so they can fulfil their righteous belief that Wenger has lost it and get rid of him. It seems nor important for them to prove us wrong which is okay but it is at the expense of the club and the team.

    At least when Wenger’s project delivers we will be right on both fronts – for the best of the team and club and down their miserable, negative throats.

  7. Amen Jonny Amen to that….

    I thought it was the Arsenal way to have a very good look at players before they were bought, to minimise future problems and increase the liklihood they will succeed. Nothing is guaranteed of course, bt a little preplanning….

    Cant wait to see him in the heat of battle, though having said that another CB would be welcome.

    Keep the faith

  8. Tony,
    would love an update as to how Man Citeh can possibly remain within the proposed new Financial Restraints with all of this profligate spending?
    Keep up the good work.

  9. A great insight Walter, good analysis. I suppose the worry is he won’t adapt to the EPL, but really it’s not as much an issue for defenders.. he’s already big, so isn’t likely to be bullied and playing at centreback he isn’t exposed to the pace of the game as much as other players.

    I look forward to seeing him play.

  10. Kiwigooner: once I’ve finished with my financial review series of articles, I’m going to pick apart the Financial Fair Play rules and explain how exactly they work, with examples from various clubs accounts and how the rules would impact them.

  11. Phil
    I look forward to it, I find the whole subject fascinating. Although from my admittedly simplistic understanding of the matter, I find myself… metaphorically standing at the street corner with a placard stating, THE END OF THE WORLD IS NIGH!!….

  12. Jonny,I always agree with you , but imo Reyes was good but just didn’t take to London

  13. Wenger has made a few bad calls when it comes to signing defenders. Silvestre, Cygan, Senderos and Stepanovs to name a few. They were not all crap, but not close to the standard we’re hoping Koscielny will be at. To move from a middle team in Ligue 1 to a top club in the EPL is a big move. It will be down to his mental strengh if he is to maintain a good level. I think people are right to question this signing if he is to replace Gallas. I was expecting Wenger to sign a player with EPL experience. Maybe he will.

  14. And just to give you some more information that I found out after writing this article:
    In 2009 (last summer) there was rumours in Lorient that he was been followed already in that period by Arsenal, MIOU (yes), Marseille and PSG. That whas when he had played the season before the last one. Arsenal had been comming 4 games to see him and MIOU 3 times. When he went to Lorient he told in an interview that he had chosen Lorient because the play football in the right way and to complete his development. He hinted that he could have gone to another team where he could earn more money but chose Lorient where he was expecting more game time. A right choise at the moment it seems.

  15. He seems great my only fear is he isn’t physical enough, he’s even said he sees that as one of his weaknesses. So i hope he buffs up over the summer. Like ronaldo when he firt came, lightweight then over a summer he became one of the strongest, deapite this he couldn’t help diving! 🙂

  16. also if we were to sign another defender who’m would you guys prefer Tasci or Cahill?

    Kjaer has alreasy left for…… Mancity, lol, actaully he’s left for Wolfsburg!

  17. I have been on to the Lorient supporters forum where there was a discussion from the day he signed from Tours.
    The most interestings things maybe was said by a person who was from Tours. He said that he was a very big player in the making and he knew which teams were after him and he said halfway in the season that he would go to Arsenal. He was spot on it seems.
    He also said halfway the season that Arsenal had been following him very close until that moment. So I think it is fair to say that Arsenal have doen about the same like they did with Vermaelen. Followed him for about 2 seasons and then they were sure. If you ever can be sure.

    The fans from Lorient were wild of him from his first game. They described him as a player who plays with whole his heart and gives it all. He had to replace a player that was very popular and went to Bordeaux but after a few weeks they found him a better player than the one he replaced. They also said he was fast, good heading, good tackling, not many fouls, he could play football and not only hoist the ball up in the air.
    Halfway the season you could see that all the Lorient fans were mad and in love with Koscielny.

  18. Are those stats for real, how accurate are these stats. The guy made the step up from a lower ligue to ligue one and his stats are awesome. He commits less fouls then most midflied players and has an impresive interception record. I saw a video of his aerial ability and he looks really good with his head. With Chamakh, TV and him. We all of sudden seem to possess a great aerial threat.

    This guy is going to be Gooner legend, mark my words!

  19. The fact that he gives the ball away 10 times per match on average is a little disturbing for a defender, although i assume it must not be so different for others as well.
    Walter (it had to be you with the 3.115 and 2,5!), could you please provide the same stat for other players in any of the top leagues in the world?


  20. Thanks Geoge – to be clear I wasn’t asserting he was bad, just that as a £11-£17 million signing he was a failure for the club. We al hoped he would bring his obvious potential to fruition.

    I remember saying to my wife that I would take Reyes over that preening twat Ronaldo any day (they were signed at the same time and both struggled to adapt). Ronaldo is still a preening twat but I was wrong about them as players.

    That said I watch a lot of Spanish football and whilst he will never be the player Ronaldo has become, Reyes has only really in the last season started to become the player we all saw glimpses of. It was pleasing to see him take the plaudits and recognition – I have to admit.

  21. Robbie – With the exception of Senderos whose early progress sadly stalled, all of those players were signed as defensive cover and never meant as first team players.

    Stepanovs was an out and out mistake – a gamble gone wrong.

    Regardless I don’t think we can draw comparisons against this signing who as I suspected, and Walter has just verified, has been followed very closely for a very long time and is being bought for first team action (or at least for near future first team place – depending on the calibre of defender Wenger signs next).

    If he turns out to be Vermaelen Mk II and a shrewd piece of business will Wenger get lauded from the galleys for achieving another remarkable coup? Sadly not from the corners that want him to fail one suspects.

  22. Aaydita, I will see if I can find those stats somewhere. Must say that the French seem to keep the records nice and they even make a book of it of some 76 pages.

  23. Off the issue…can untold arsenal reveal the mystery behind the N0 9 jersey during Le prof tenure?eduardo reyes,barister(baptista),sukur etc. wore the shirt previously. what fortune does the shirt bring to us. Tanx

  24. I personally reckon he will be a very good signing, and from his attributes that have been described – that he is a football player who is quick and can play with both feet – it is less and less a surprise that he has been picked up by Arsenal.
    Like many others, I have read many comments and opinions about him on the various Arsenal blogs, and there are many who can’t get their heads around the fact that he is an unknown, and not already at a more “established” club, and thus use this as an attempt to criticise his signing as not good enough.
    But these people need to also realise that there are just so, so many talented football players out there in todays game, and that just because many are not snapped up by big clubs at 16-17, doesn’t mean that they aren’t great players. Although the following argument has already been used many times, I still think it is worth repeating: in that just look at players like Sagna for instance. Nobody had heard of him and he was playing in an Auxerre side that was struggling at the time, but he has turned out great (I think we also signed him at 24 years of age), and nobody had heard of Eduardo either when Wenger paid £8m for him (even though he was doing well for Croatia, he was still playing club football at a lower level than Lique 1).
    I find it quite funny as well, that many of the bloggers that are constantly having digs at Diaby (23) and Denilson (22) are calling for us to sign players like Bastien Schweinsteiger. Yes, he’s been at Bayern all his career and has 80 caps for Germany, but it is only in the last year that people have started to have a real look at him, and only in the last season that he has started to show some good consistant form. He is of course 25 years old now, so is another case in point of players taking time to really find their potential. Which is why I can see Koscielny being a very good addition.

  25. If we are going to sign another centre-back i really hope it is Mertesacker. His fouls record really is something special! Then again, thanks to the World Cup, his value is going to be terribly inflated.

    Jan Vertonghen and Mamadou Sakho look like the business as well.

  26. @ Walter,

    What do you think of this guy?

    Toby Alderweireld

    Another Belgian U-21 at Ajax.

  27. Well, giving away the ball 10 times a game might seem a lot but it all depends on context. As EVERYTHING is included in this number, wild cleareances etc. will also be included. I would love to see some tackling stats. That is imo more important (and more indicative) than the given away balls stat.

  28. Nicely put, Walter.

    I’ve been following The Arsenal for more seasons than I like to remember (and seen many seasons I’d like to forget), and I’ve seen many names coming in who I’d never heard of (Arsene who?), so I wouldn’t even submit new names that we should sign. I prefer to leave that to those with the knowledge of those likely to fit in The Arsenal way of play – even knowing that they’re not always right.

    Not that I’m averse to hearing names – there’s stacks of players out there who we’ve all seen giving good accounts of themselves in their current environments – these names would often make great choices. And of course, we can’t sign them all.

    I just join with you, Walter, in saying welcome Laurent to the greatest club in the world.

  29. Aaydita, I have mentioned Alderweireld in a recent article about Vertonghen his central partner in the Ajax defence last season.
    They seem to form a great partnership and are just 19 and 22 (out of my head so don’t shoot me if I missed by a year or so).
    Only conceded some 20 goals in a season and had two series of 5 and 6 games with clean sheets after each other. But I can imagine some part of the fans going nuts when we would buy them. 🙂 Imagine 2 unknown and young centre backs… I think even Wenger wouldn’t risk that. But after Vermaelen I would take them.

  30. I wonder what really defines unknown. Possibly the CB of the season in one of the top 5 leagues in Europe (5th in UEFA co-efficient) is an unknown while Gary Cahill is the name we’re screaming out to get?

    Imagine 3 young talented Belgian centrebacks, that would be amazing for the communication defensively. That is, if people from Flanders also speak French (for Sagna, Clichy and Koscielny), do they?

  31. Kiwi Gooner

    How can man city remain within the new UEFA act – they can’t – they are holding back for one more year before they then try and bribe officials to let them in.

    (I didn’t really say that)

  32. I think it is unfair to say negative things about a player without even him playing half a season.

    The way I see it if he is £8 million in france he is the equivalent of buying an english player for about £20 million.

    I have previously expressed my views on too many french players but giles grimandi is pretty decent, I know because it is a hot subject at the moment but I would rather us be tapping into the german and dutch leagues for emerging talent, the dutch over the past 30 years have been the most technical and over the years settle remarkably easy into the prem.

    I dont think you can always judge a player on stats, if you make loads of tackles in a unimportant game it doesnt really tell you anything especially if you mis time the most important tackle, also you can lose possession by kicking out for a throw in, Since he is not a brute like Cygan but more of a clever footballer he should fit into the arsenal style of play

  33. Hey Walter,
    Just wanted to say I really enjoy your articles. Not only is it optimistic and sensible, but it is also very well researched. Certainly much better than than soccernet or any other website. I have only recently come across your website, and I don’t really like any other websites.

    I think Koscielny will definitely be an upgrade from last year. Most other fans question his experience, which is a legitimate fear. I feel with Vermalaen, we were lucky. I don’t think we can expect any player to adapt that quick and do well. That is why I really want Sol Campbell to stay. Even though I have full confidence in Wenger’s signings, it might take some time before Koscielny really fits in (say half a season), which is reasonable, but that would significantly hinder our title challenge. Thats why I would prefer either Campbell stay, or a slightly more experienced signing.

    I do still have some concern for our midfield. And it is precisely the second holding midfield position if either Song gets injured or we have to play another DM who can get the ball. What are your thoughts on that Walter? I feel Diaby is unjustly being compared to Viera, while Denilson is also not really that kind of player. I think the keeper problem is being sorted out and one more defender should put us in good stead, but I feel the midfield needs one more piece for us to take it all.

  34. good article, its nothing new to see arsenal “supporters” wirting off a player even before he played a game for us !
    same thing happened with vermaelen last year…

  35. Aaydita, most Flemish kids learn French as their second language at school. Now I can imagine that the French of kids moving to Holland will slowly become worse as in HOlland they have another education systems and learn Englih as a second language and also more German.
    But they will have enough basics to speak French with the French playes when needed. Mind you Vermaelen told me in his interview that they do normally speek only English with each other on the field and off. But I can imagine when Sagna meets Clichy on the street they would speek French between between them.

  36. Watch out for this new guy he might even be better than vermalaen.wenger that bought him knew that it has to be him & vermalaen so that shouldn’t bother u guys bcos our serviour have arrived(believe me with him can now percieve success)

  37. If you English think that player is not good enough, then, definitely he would be good enough

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