Just how does Laurent Koscielny do it?
Our captain suffered an achilles injury in April last year that wrecked his World Cup dream. The very same achilles that has plagued his Arsenal career.
He then spent his recuperation watching his country lifting the World Cup, knowing full well that he would have been part of these life-changing scenes if it weren’t for his terrible luck.
He then returns to the club he has been part of since 2010 after six months of tough physical work and has to quickly adapt to a brand new way of working after eight years with Arsene Wenger.
So Koscielny’s return to not only our starting line up but also the role of our lynchpin at the back is nothing short of heroic.
In 2019, only Manchester City, RB Leipzig, Atletico and Lille have conceded less goals than Arsenal. In his last five starts, we have conceded exactly ZERO goals. Koscielny at 333 is showing that he has lost none of the nous that has kept him at the club for nine years.
Then there was our Europa League Quarter-Final second leg in Napoli.
Despite our two goal advantage, we were expecting a hostile atmosphere at the Stadio San Paolo. With our shaky away form, 90 minutes of backs to the wall, last-ditch defending was on the cards.
No one told our veteran defender, and his cohorts. Kos marshalled our backline superbly and it was a true skippers performance. Kos isn’t the archetypal leader, but he has the respect of his squad and he leads by example. He has also become far more organised and tactically astute than before, and it makes him vital to our cause.
The addition of Sokratis has given Koscielny a partner he knows can hold the line should Kos need to break formation in an emergency, and that solid foundation is helping enormously.
With Rob Holding in place when Kos eventually does retire, we are well placed, but how do you replace a man who puts his body on the line every game?
We have a lot to thank him for, and if this season ends as we hope it can, there’ll be even more gratitude toward him, and rightly so.
If he carries on for another season, the man is entitled to a testimonial – and it would be a fitting send off to the best defender we have had over the last ten years.