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2014 Arsenal Player Reviews: Laurent Koscielny

A review of Arsenal's #6

Shaun Botterill

Laurent Koscielny continued his growth into one of Europe's best centre backs with a very good and consistent 2013/14. After concluding the 2012/13 season having formed an excellent partnership with Per Mertesacker, the two continued in the same vein for the opening months of the 13-14 campaign. After Koscielny's Anthony Taylor-induced sending off and a head injury suffered at the boots of Dirk Kuyt, the Frenchman played his first full game of the season, helping Arsenal keep a clean sheet in the 1-0 derby victory over Spurs.

Part of the reason for the pair's success is Koscielny's style. There's the obvious aggression, with Koscielny stealing in to quickly win the ball back, and then use his ball-playing skills to set Arsenal on the break, but the Frenchman has improved his game to become an all-round defender; he's comfortable defending the penalty box, with increasingly aerial prowess, and he's becoming more disciplined, with his only yellow card of the season coming after celebrating scoring Arsenal's first goal in a 3-0 win over Newcastle at the end of the season. Furthermore, Koscielny is very rarely beaten by pace, with his sprint-speed over 40 yards the second quickest at the club, after Theo Walcott.

Furthermore, Koscielny continued his penchant for scoring crucial goals; there was the St. Totteringham's Day sealing first goal against Newcastle, but more importantly, the equaliser in the FA Cup final, where Koscielny very much put his body on the line to squeeze in Santi Cazorla's corner.

Koscielny's four years at Arsenal have been four of progress and development, with the Frenchman turning into one of the better defenders in both the Premier League and Europe. He deserved to be in the PFA Team of the Season, but probably was marked down because of Arsenal's performances in the big away defeats, though, in the Frenchman's defence, he only played a full part in one of them, the 5-1 defeat to Liverpool (coming off injured against Chelsea and Manchester City and missing Everton), and even then, can't really be blamed when the structure of the entire team fell apart ahead of them. While in the past, Koscielny has made some very questionable decisions, this season, he was remarkably consistent, and a new long-term contract reflects the nature of his performances and the fact that he is becoming a very attractive target to the likes of Bayern Munich and Barcelona, both linked to him in recent months. After helping Wojciech Szczesny and Arsenal keep the most clean sheets in the league, next season should see the Frenchman continue his pocketing of most of the best strikers in Europe.

Grade: A-