Laurent Koscielny Settled In England & Statistics Prove It
Arsenal centre back Laurent Koscielny looks to have finally settled in to life in the Premier League after a difficult start in England. Here’s stats to prove it
27 February 2011 – One of the lowest points in the last few seasons for Arsenal fans. Miscommunication between Laurent Koscielny and Wojciech Szczesny, failing to deal with Ben Foster’s hoof up field lead to Obafemi Martins tapping home Birmingham City’s 89th minute Carling Cup final winner at Arsenal’s expense.
Queue the criticism towards the former Lorient centre back; something that was a constant throughout a tough debut season, arriving from the French Ligue 1.
When Laurent Koscielny arrived at Arsenal, for a pre-seaon debut I attended at Barnet’s Underhill stadium, he looked lightweight. His Premier League career started with a red card on his debut in a 1-1 draw at Anfield. Three months later, Koscielny saw red again in a 1-0 home defeat to Newcastle. All part of the French central defender’s struggled to adapt to the fast and physical English game.
12 months late, during the summer, Koscielny bulked up his 6’1” frame and has been one of Arsenal’s most consistent players, arguably only behind the Premier League top scorer, Robin van Persie. Whilst Arsenal kept a clean sheet without him in a 3-0 victory over Aston Villa on Saturday, Koscielny has been a big part of Arsenal’s current winning streak, partnering well with Thomas Vermaelen.
The most notable performance of late was during Arsenal’s 3-0 victory over AC Milan in which Koscielny shut out Zlatan Ibrahimovic and even got on the scoresheet himself. At the same stage of the competition last season, the French defender kept Lionel Messi quiet in a 2-1 first leg victory over Barcelona at the Emirates.
No Arsenal defender has been involved in more clean sheets than Laurent Koscielny this season, with Saturday’s shut out of Aston Villa being the first time the Gunners have prevented the opposition scoring without Koscielny in the Premier League this season.
Laurent Koscielny’s percentage of 50-50 ground duels won has gone up from 58% to a 66% success rate this season, and his aerial duels won has shot up from 53% to a solid 63% success rate.
The centre back’s biggest strength has been his reading of the game. This shown by his 74 interceptions; a Premier League high amongst centre backs (Aston Villa central midfielder Stiliyan Petrov leads the league with 97). His 73 tackles are also a high amongst Premier League centre backs this season (Tottenham’s Scott Parker leads the league with 99).
Since the return of Thomas Vermaelen and two first choice full backs, a solid defensive partnership is forming in the middle which is something Arsenal have lacked throughout this season. Provided they both stay fit, if they can remain formidable together, manager Arsene Wenger may have something to rely on and build upon for next season.
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