Showing posts with label Laurent Koscielny. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Laurent Koscielny. Show all posts

30 November 2022

Criticising Koscielny? Them's fightin' words...

Should I photoshop my face in here? Nah.
Welcome to the next installment of our semi-regular, forced by this weird World Cup series in which we seek to demolish various myths that plague our beloved club. In previous installments, we've looked at who was the bigger snake between Fabregas and Persie (spoiler alert: the Spanish word for "snake" is serpiente) or whether it was Giroud's fault that we failed to win the 2015-16 Prem title (it wasn't). That brings us, dear readers, to our next installment: Laurent Koscielny is just another snake in the grass who saw that the grass was greener on the other side and made us green with envy. Or something. It's hard to knit together more than two idioms, as I've just demonstrated. Anyway, if you're going to come after Laurent Koscielny, you're going to have to get through me first.

20 January 2018

Arsenal 4-1 Palace—Vote for Player-Ratings & MOTM!

Arsenal blitzed Palace in the first 12 minutes through goals from Monreal, Iwobi, and Koscielny. Lacazette added a fourth as the Gunners eased to an easy victory. The only drama centered around whether or not Petr Čech would keep his 200th career clean-sheet. Sadly, he was denied this achievement in the 78th. More's the pity. Still, it's a fine result and one that restores some much needed confidence and, hopefully, momentum as we look for progress in the League Cup, Prem, and Europa. Enjoy this one. It's back to work in just a few days!

12 January 2017

Arsenal sign three key Frenchmen to bolster title-tilt!

With the January transfer window now open, and with Arsenal's hopes in the Prem, FA Cup and Champions League each suffering to varying degrees, it should come as some consolation that Arsène has seen fit to loosen the purse-strings ever so slightly to shore up the squad. The signings of three vital French players, long a hallmark of Arsène's transfer policy and priority, may not strengthen the squad per se but should at least solidify it for the near-future. I'm referring of course to the new contracts signed by Olivier Giroud, Francis Coquelin, and Laurent Koscielny.

03 January 2016

These are the results that champions deliver. Period.

For long stretches, it looked as if Arsenal would stumble. At home against an embattled and overmatched squad, our Gunners should have cakewalked their way to an easy victory. Instead, we witnessed a gritty, grubby performance as Newcastle hunkered down in a stubborn 4-5-1 and dared us to unlock them. Their occasional counters proved to be more dangerous than most of what we could muster, and the excellence of Petr Čech should surely earn him a MotM award. However, for as much as we might have craved a swash-buckling display, it's closer to the truth to expect days like these, when a desperate opponent reminds us that anything can happen. To have found a positive result on this day proves more than any lopsided result that we're serious about winning the Prem.

02 January 2016

Arsenal 1-0 Newcastle: Vote for Player-ratings/MotM!

Arsenal slogged through a turgid 70 minutes of football as Newcastle sat back behind a parked bus. Then, during a scramble in front of Newcastle's goal, Koscielny pounced on the ball and slotted past Elliot. It might have been an undeserved goal, but there's value in winning ugly. For as unpleasant as it was, we scraped by and scrapped our way to three points to put a bit of distance between us and Leicester, who couldn't see off ten-man Bournemouth. We'll haev to wait to see how Man City fares at Vicarage Road, but we're up to 42 points and have earned a spot alone top of the league. Let's get down the poll and rate the lads...

29 November 2015

Norwich 1-1 Arsenal: Vote for Player Ratings/MotM

Things got off to an inauspicious start when Laurent Koscielny came up lame in the game's eighth minute, but it was all
one-way traffic for Arsenal, leading up to a delicious goal from Mesut Özil, assisted by Alexis, to open the scoring. However, the Canaries found a toehold and an equaliser just before halftime. Things went from bad to worse when Alexis succumbed to an injury at the 60' mark, meaning that we've now lost two of our best defenders and one of our best attackers in the span of one week. Thus depleted, we lacked the incisiveness or confidence against a Norwich side that seemed content to nick a point from looked on paper to be three points to Arsenal.  Well, enough said for now. Give our lads what they deserve in the poll below...

24 October 2015

Arsenal 2-1 Everton: Vote for Player Ratings & MotM!

Arsenal struck twice off of glancing headers, one from Giroud and one from Koscielny, inside of two minutes to take a lead, but Everton pulled one back on a deflected shot just before halftime. Despite throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Arsenal in the second half, Everton just couldn't find the equaliser. We had numerous chances of our own but just couldn't put our shots anywhere but off-target or straight at Tim Howard. Four minutes of stoppage time gave us a manic sequence in which Howard had to chase the ball around the box before it was cleared, leading to a manic counter that Gabriel snuffed with a sharp tackle on Lukaku. That's where it ended, and Arsenal rise to the top of the Prem table for the first time in twenty months. Give our lads what they deserve in the poll below!

02 March 2015

Gabriel answers the call; BFG is put on hold...

Amidst the glow of a win that sends us back to third place (and, apparently, increases our chances of a top-four finish to 84.4% if you believe GoalImpact), one stand-out performance was that of Gabriel Paulista, who made his Prem debut and overcame some early-match jitters to deliver a stellar performance. While he did very well in his first start against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup fifth round, he had to adjust to playing alongside three new teammates (Ospina, Coquelin, and Bellerín) and to the somewhat more-intense challenges posed by Everton. Don't let their table-position fool you—on paper, this is still very much the squad that briefly eclipsed us a season ago. Gabriel stepped up to deliver a competent if not commanding performance, one good enough to earn him a 7.56 in our ratings-poll. Was his performance good enough to bench the BFG permanently?

12 February 2015

Danke schön, Poldi; Auf wiedersehen, Per?

How do you solve a problem like Mertesacker? On one hand, he's become one of the most likable, affable members of the squad. His pairing with Laurent Koscielny had built a firm foundation for the defense, with the pair reaching in early 2014 an unbeaten streak of 31 games (ending in the ignominious 5-1 loss at Anfield). On the other hand, his Achilles' Heel has been two-fold—his pairing with Koscielny is only as good as Koscielny's Achilles, and his own pace is his weakest spot. We've known this since he first joined the club in 2011; the problem has only worsened as he's aged. With his bestest buddy Poldi having been loaned out to Inter, could we soon be bidding auf wiedersehen to Per as well?

28 January 2015

Gabriel Paulista sings, "I wanna be your Martin Keown..."

...or so sing Sleater-Kinney might sing. It's actually "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone", but in the signing of Gabriel Paulista, we might have something of a chant ready-made for the Brazilian defender. With his transfer from Villareal to Arsenal officially announced on Wednesday, we have a #5 who, in time, could remind us in his own way of other famous defenders to wear the number, namely, Martin Keown, to whom Gabriel offers more than a passing resemblance. His addition bolsters a sorely-lacking position and one that urgently needs updating. With Mertesacker sinking slowly (by what other means would he sink?) and Koscielny aging, we need to find centre-backs who can learn and in short order take over from them. In Gabriel, we may have found the heir-apparent to Koscielny, and, before him, to Keown.

Too soon? Aye, perhaps a bit too soon....
We've had a fair-few centre-backs come through the club since Keown's day, but none perhaps as memorable as he was: Campbell. Touré. Cygan. Senderos. Djourou. Vermaelen. Gallas. Would any among them, save perhaps Campbell, merit a mention in the annals of Arsenal's history? It's unlikely.

I hope I'm not making too much of Gabriel. He looks like he could become a very, very good time. As it currently stands, he offers something closer to raw potential than finished product, given that he's made only 37 appearances for Villareal in La Liga and zero appearances for Brazil at the international level. As such, it's hard to assess just how ready the 24-year old is to contribute. Perhaps the comparisons to Keown—be it based on squad number, position, or physical appearance—is a bit unfair.

A more-apt comparison might be made to Laurent Koscielny, another centre-back who joined the club at age 24. There have been hiccups, to be sure, but Kos has emerged as one of the lynchpins of the Arsenal defense. At age 29, he still wreaks havoc and runs amok, blending aggressive tackles and interceptions with increasingly-astute positioning. Kos might have another five years of top-flight performance still in him, but it's far from too early to start grooming a successor. Should Gabriel prove ready to deputize for him, so much the better.

Like Kos, Gabriel is a quick, aggressive defender who excels at dispossessing opponents and who, at the moment, relies more on that quickness than on wisdom to achieve his goals (or deny the goals of others). A great deal of Kos's game is based on his quick reactions and willingness to go in for a tackle, knowing that Per is there to mop up. So may it be for Gabriel and Chambers, who in coming years could gradually assume the burden that the Kos-Per pairing has shouldered. Chambers could play Per to Gabriel's Kos, playing the more-conservative role in support of Gabriel's marauding forays in the middle of the pitch.

Long story short, Gabriel might not be quite ready to slot in for Kos, but he brings a skill-set and mentality that suggests that, once Kos starts to straggle, he'll be chomping at the bit to shoulder the load. Heck, he may even be ready for a run-out on Sunday against Aston Villa—if the game is in hand.

23 January 2015

Is Koscielny the best defender in the Prem? Vote him in!

Kos. Kozza. Boscielny. We all know him, many of us love him. He wants his own song (I've suggested borrowing from Gogol Bordello's "Start Wearing Purple", in homage to Kos's contributions to saving an accordion factory. He's been vital to our fortunes, whether it's been through bossing people of a certain persuasion or scoring crucial goals late in matches. In the current squad, he is without doubt or best defender. Where, however, does he rank in the Prem? Is he in the top five? ESPN seems to think so, and I don't mind encouraging Gooners to engage in a little ballot-stuffing. First, though, let me make my case for why this is more than shameless hucksterism on behalf of a beloved Gunner...

07 December 2014

It should've been 6-0. Still, there's a silver lining...

Wow. That was terrible...and the scoreline flatters us. But for a goal-line clearance, a goal-disallowed to an offside call, and a generous penalty against Stoke, this debacle would have gone down as one for the ages, along the lines of the 8-2 loss to Man U or 6-0 to Chelsea, the key difference being that Stoke don't have the resources or the World Cup-quality players to hang such a scoreline on us. We knew that going into the Britannia Stadium would be difficult; I don't think any of us predicted Stoke scoring not one but three goals (and very nearly four) in the first half. Don't delude yourself, though: the fightback we showed, such as it was, amounts to a bit less than the final scoreline showed.

28 November 2014

West Brom-Arsenal preview: Kos and Giroud return to deliver victory over West Brom!

The last time we faced West Brom, we won via an emphatic header from Olivier Giroud, a victory that clinched fourth place and ensured that we would again appear in the Champions League. Fast forward from then ‘til now, and we’ve made good on that promise, advancing to the Champions League knockout-stage thanks to goals from Sanogo and Alexis, but thanks also to stalwart defending and a stand-out performance from Damián Martinez, who looks to again deputize for the injured Wojciech Szczesny (whether the injury is physical or psychological is another question for another day).  More important, perhaps, will be the returns to fitness of a few Frenchmen at opposite ends of the pitch.

20 May 2014

The vindication of Koscielny

It's been a long time coming, but redemption takes time. Of course, the last two seasons have offered absolution enough as Laurent Koscielny has become a bedrock of Arsenal's defence. By now, we're all familiar with his accomplishments as a defender, and his partnering with Per has provided a solid platform for the squad as whole. The clean-sheets, the stability, the tackles and clearances...all of these have become standard fare for Gooners. However, as with the trophy-drought itself, there has always lurked on the edge of our consciousness a lingering doubt—one that might finally have been exorcised, even if not fully expunged, from our memories.

09 May 2014

Kos commits to the cause: a new contract!

Four years and 163 appearances into his time at Arsenal, Laurent Koscielny has signed a new long-term contract that could see him finish out his career at the club. Details are yet to be released, but it's official, at least official enough to be announced at the team-site. The new deal is expected to run for four years, ending in 2018, at which point Kos would be 32 and entering the sunset of his career, if not the twilight.

This comes as great news ahead of Sunday's trip to Carrow Road and solidifies for the time-being the Kos-Per partnership that has been a cornerstone for our improved defensive stolidity since early 2013. After all, we've kept 15 clean sheets from Kos's 31 Prem appearances.

He typifies in many ways what we've come to expect from an Arsène-signing: coming over from Ligue 1 Lorient in 2010, Kos was a relatively unknown quantity but after a few early struggles, established himself with some strong performances, such as his contributions to Arsenal's 2-1 win over Barcelona in the Champions League. He seems to have moved past the undisciplined, brash defender who was susceptible to getting sent off or committing blunders that led to goals (such as the blunder against Birmingham) and has become one of our most valued and dependable defenders, so much so that captain Thomas Vermaelen has to see Kos's new contract as a bit of a signal that his time with the club may very well come to an end as early as this summer. After all, both Kos and Per have inked new contracts this season, and our centre-back pairing for the foreseeable future now lies in their hands.

Among other accomplishments this season, Kos leads the squad in interceptions per game (2.8) and total interceptions (87), clearances per game (7.4), blocked shots per game (0.7) and blocked shots (23), and an impressive three Man of the Match designations (all courtesy of For what it's worth, he's the fourth-highest rated centre-back in the Prem, behind Skrtel, Davies, and Lovren, each of whom might benefit for playing for sides that force their defenders to rack up more stats. However, I'm not here to make any extended comparisons. I'm just here to extol our man.

Arsène explained that "Laurent has proven himself to be an outstanding player since joining us in 2010 and has showed his quality once again this season. I am delighted he has decided to commit his future to the Club.” Indeed. Congratulations to the man whose heroics late in last season's finale against Newcastle secured fourth place for the 2013-14 campaign. We may not need such similar feats on Sunday, but I certainly would not object to seeing him celebrate his new contract with a goal anyway.

28 April 2014

So that's what Arsenal looks like at full-strength...

...and it wasn't even full-strength. Still no Walcott or Wilshere, still no Diaby, Gnabry, Gibbs, or Vermaelen. Without quite claiming that we're back to full strength and admitting that Newcastle were perhaps even further from it than we are, it's telling just how much better we played and can play when we have options. With Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Özil back in the fold, we looked like a different team—more creative, more decisive, more dynamic—and the scoreline might actually do us a disservice on the day. Newcastle were overrun, plain and simple, but that takes nothing away from our performance, which was about as good as it's been since, well, since before we lost Ramsey... Özil... Walcott.... Wilshere.....

Arsenal 3-0 Newcastle: Watch the highlights...

So that's what we're capable of all full-strength. Well, close to full strength at least. Goals from Koscielny, Özil, and Giroud capped off a fine performance that brings us to a late St. Totteringham's Day and a step closer to clinching fourth place, which now hangs tantalizingly within our reach.  Also along the way, Szczesny tallied yet another clean sheet, drawing him level with Tim Howard and just one behind Petr Cech, on the verge of earning the Prem's Golden Glove. It was splendid performance all-around. Don't believe me, though; check the highights below.

Arsenal vs Newcastle United 3-0 All Goals... by Leaguehighlight

18 March 2014

A win to make George Graham proud...

Although it won't win us many points for style—Spuds dominated possession, we were sloppy with our passing, and we may indeed be lucky to have taken all three points—Sunday's 0-1 win over them hearkens back to the halcyon days under George Graham, a manager whose style might be as directly opposite to Arsène's as there could be. Whereas Arsène has been derided for not knowing how to set up a defense properly (and, in part, riding to glory on the stout defense he inherited when he took over), Graham presided over the "boring, boring Arsenal" squads that inspired the "one-nil to the Arsenal" chants, based on our confidence that we would defend a one-goal lead without trouble. To see us go in to White Hart Lane, score 70 seconds in, and then defend that lead for more than 95 minutes was a thing of beauty, albeit of a kind many of us may not have forgotten how to enjoy.

14 March 2014

Sing a song of Koscielny

The issue's been marinating in my mind ever since Kos first joked that he wants his own song, telling the official Arsenal magazine, "I don't know" why there's still no song for the man, nearly four years after he joined the club. By contrast, fellow Frenchman Olivier Giroud has already picked up his own song based around the Beatles' "Hey Jude", and fellow centre-back Per Mertesacker has earned his "Big Friendly German" chant just months after joining the club. Kos went on to explain his dismay, saying, "maybe I need to have Olivier's nose or his haircut, or maybe they don't like me" (far from true, Laurent; far from true). "Before I retire, I am hoping to have my own song." Well, just days later, he earned the tribute, at least 'round these parts,when he went on to arrange a donation of some £495m to save an accordion factory in his hometown of Tulle. Apparently, the factory was struggling to compete with cheaper accordions from eastern Europe. I pondered. Accordions...eastern Europe ...Kos...chants...then, it hit me. Purple.

22 February 2014

Arsenal 4-1 Sunderland: Player Ratings

After slogging and struggling through our last five or six matches, today's brought some well-earned relief as we went ahead of Sunderland on the fifth minute from a Giroud goal, to which he added a second 25 minutes later, outwitting Vergini to interecept a back-pass and nutmeg Mannone. By the time Rosický reprised il pornogol di Wilshere against Norwich just before halftime, it was all but over. Kos chipped in with a nifty header that left Mannone flat-footed. The only black mark was the goal conceded to Giaccherini, which ended the bid for a clean sheet and saved face a bit for the Black Cats, who fell for just the second time in fourteen matches. With Chelsea stealing a late win from Everton and Man City similarly squeaking past Stoke, both by 1-0 scores, the top of the table remains unchanged for another week. Let's take a look at how our boys did...