Laurent Koscielny’s Arsenal career is a story of certain ‘rags to riches’ case. He came in as a young unknown defender, whom many criticised for his lack of experience. But after seven years with the club he is now recognised as one of the very best defenders not just in England, but in European football.
Koscielny’s importance to this current Arsenal side is second to none. He is highly regarded to be one of the first names on the teamsheet every week and he is the player who keeps the strength at the back. There is no doubting that a lot of Arsenal’s chances of success come from him and that showed again last night.
Koscielny was withdrawn by Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, only minutes into the second half of the match. Koscielny had picked up an injury problem and Wenger clearly felt it was best to not risk further concern to the Frenchman, in fear of aggravating the issue. Koscielny came off the pitch at 1-1 and although the Gunners were by no means in control, they had had their chances and it was a very good first half.
After Koscielny’s withdrawal however, it was a second half to forget. Arsenal endured a nightmare second 45 minutes, in which we conceded 4 goals in a state of panic. Once Arsenal shipped the second goal, which was a good header but poorly defended, the defence just seemed to fall apart. Another goal went in minutes later, followed by a poor bit of keeping from David Ospina. The Arsenal defence faltered and it was clear the team was a sinking ship in Munich. Arsenal thought they’d be escaping Germany with a 4-1 defeat, but yet another defensive error by the Gunners lead to another Bayern Munich goal, finalising a 5-1 score line.
Now of course it would be wrong to suggest that the defensive mishaps were entirely down to the absence of Koscielny and Gabriel’s introduction. It is a team effort at the end of the day and every player on the pitch is responsible for the atrocity that occurred last night. But it does seem as if Arsenal lost their tough nature at the back and vocal leadership, after Koscielny was taken off.
Gabriel has been surprisingly quite impressive at right back during Bellerin’s absence. However I maintain that I still don’t see a future for the Brazilian at Arsenal. He is clumsy and often reckless in defence and an apparent lack of communication still seems to be an issue despite having been at the club for a number of years now. I don’t want to put it all onto Gabriel because of course he is not the only one at fault on the night. But it just goes to show how important Koscielny is to this Arsenal side and sadly, that many of the other players aren’t able to cut it in his absence.
Let’s hope that his new injury doesn’t prove to be too serious…..