Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Arsenal FC: Why Laurent Koscielny's Development Could Be the Key to the Gunners

Arsene Wenger has endured a tough time as the Arsenal boss in the past few weeks and the win against Manchester United would have provided him with some relief after the club had endured a string of poor results which will most probably result in them extending their trophy drought.

However, the rise of ticket prices by the Arsenal Football Club has left a bad taste in the mouths of faithful supporters, who have been disheartened by the recent failures. The Arsenal Supporters Trust had suggested some measures to tackle the inflation effect on ticket prices but the club has gone ahead with the decision to increase ticket prices.

With the decision to increase ticket prices, there will be increased pressure on Wenger to splash the money on quality players and more importantly, win trophies. Many sections of the supporters have been let down by Wenger's decisions in the recent transfer markets like signing a 30-year old defender who has never been regarded as a top quality player.

Similarly, many supporters felt that Wenger's decision to sign an inexperienced Centre Back who had just played one season at the top level before being signed by Arsenal was a poor move. Koscielny had an indifferent start to his Arsenal which included a red card on his debut. He did not seem to be confident with the ball though his positioning was good from the start.

Some of the many criticisms that came his way was his decision-making and his extremely thin physique. However, as the season has progressed, Koscielny has shown remarkable progress and has firmly established himself as a reliable defender for the Gunners. He has increasingly shown good value for the money that Wenger spent to acquire his services from Lorient.

The Frenchman, who is also eligible to play alongside Szczesny for Poland, has progressed rapidly since joining the Gunners and has even received a call-up to the France National team. Koscielny has shown that his tenacity can compensate for his thin frame and he is not intimidated by the physicality of the league.

Though Koscielny's mistake against Birmingham was the main reason for the Gunners not winning a trophy this season, his commitment to the cause cannot be questioned. He has played with bruises and cuts and has shown that he is not afraid of tackling hard if necessary. He has displayed immense maturity and for someone
who has been thrown into the deep end, he has responded by showcasing his potential for the Gunners.

The centre back has struggled to establish a partnership with Sebastien Squillaci and the duo have leaked a number of goals when they have played together. However, since the manager has installed Johan Djourou and Laurent Koscielny as the first choice pairing, the Frenchman has excelled with the only major blip being his error in the Carling Cup final.

The duo have formed a strong partnership at the back and the defence has looked better than it has been for the last few years. The return of the experienced Thomas Vermaelen is certainly a huge boost for the Gunners as his experience and know-how will be integral to the progress of the two youngsters Djourou and Koscielny.

His appearance as a weak player is extremely deceptive as he can match strong forwards in the air and also make excellent tackles. Koscielny is also adept at reading danger and cuts out through balls by making vital interceptions. He was one of the best players on the pitch in the first leg at Barcelona where he nullified the threat of Lionel Messi for large parts of the game.

In the second leg of the Real Madrid vs. Barcelona tie, Ricardo Carvalho, who is one of the most experienced and talented defenders in the game, made a number of heavy tackles which could have seen him sent off. It would be fair to say that Koscielny looked more comfortable than Carvalho against Messi and that shows the calibre of the defender.

Despite many Arsenal fans clamoring for the signing of a new centre back, it could be unfair for any one of Koscielny or Djourou to be the fourth choice centre back despite performing quite well. Vermaelen has recovered from his achilles injury and his season has been very similar to Djourou's 2009-10 season but Wenger and the fans will hope he has a strong 2011-12 season.

The only defender who has been criticized for his inept displays has been Sebastien Squillaci, who has not won over the fans in his first season. It would be tough on the Frenchman if he is sold after his first season but Wenger will have to be ruthless in his decision making. The Arsenal manager could bring in some fresh faces to supplement Koscielny, Djoruoru and Vermaelen and it will provide quality depth to the team.

Koscielny has shown a lot of promise in his debut season and has even scored few important goals for the Gunners. He has certainly not let his manager down and his commitment to the cause has been excellent. Koscielny's development should continue in the next season as well and he could be the defensive rock on which Gunners' future success is built.


Jamrock Rover said...

Kos had a fairly good first season, and if he can build on it I think he can certainly be a strong contender for a starting role. I think Vermaelen and Djourou will be the 2 first choices, but I still hope the boss brings in another CB TOO.

Vijay Murali said...

Koscielny has been excellent in the second half of the season right from the game against Chelski where he and Djourou shackled Drogba... Koscielny is better at reading danger and cutting out through balls while Djourou is better to deal with aerial threat and also marshals the defence well..

I hope Wenger sells Squillaci and signs a CB because I am not convinced by Djourou's ability to play a full season without injuries and Vermaelen is only just coming back.. and another CB would add to the competition but I think the CB would be preferred if he is versatile.. CB/RB because Eboue might leave..

I just saw a video of Kyle Bartley playing for Rangers on youtube and he is huge and impressive.. a typical old style defender.. would love to see him make the grade at Arsenal...

Jamrock Rover said...

Kyle Bartley looks to be a very good prospect as does Ignasi Miquel but Bartley has more or less said he wants a chance next season or he will leave. I think he could possibly do a job for Arsenal but it's a big step up from playing for Rangers to playing for Arsenal and highlights videos can make any player look good. If Arsenal sign another CB the chances are he will go and that could be a mistake in the long term, but it's very difficult to know what to do.

Vijay Murali said...

It is difficult to predict the pressure which Wenger is feeling.. I just feel that many like the ones at Le Grove are far too intent on criticizing him.. they do appreciate talents like Szczesny and wilshere but criticise Wenger's lack of spending.. they can't have it both ways..

I think Wenger will sign a new CB to satisfy supporters before the meeting where he will have to answer all sorts of awkward questions..

You are right about youtube videos but the guy seems to be getting excellent reviews from rangers fans and seems to be a beast but might not make the grade at Arsenal if he wants to play this season..

Jamrock Rover said...

I saw him play for Rangers a couple of times and I thought he looked very good, but he actually played a DM role for them. I would like to see him get a chance at Arsenal, but at who's expense I don't know.

Vijay Murali said...

That is the problem that Arsenal are going to have with blooding too many youngsters.. It may come to a point when promising youngsters start leaving the club.. But the prime thing is trophies and I think Wenger should bring in experience this season.. If Bartley is prepared to wait, he will have a good future at Arsenal, else he could move on...