Arsenal Analysis – How good is Laurent Koscielny?

How Laurent Koscielny has fared for Arsenal this season? by SE

Laurent Koscielny is enjoying a pretty mixed season by his standards, committing defensive errors in crucial moments of a game and not being composed enough under pressure. Of late, however, the central defender has looked assured and been in a very good defensive form that has helped David Ospina and Arsenal keep 4 clean sheets in their last 10 games across all competitions. Over the course of this season, how good has the Frenchman been for the Gunners?

Koscielny has not been prolific in his tackling this season, when he has won just 43% of his 40 attempted tackles in 20 Premier League appearances. One such tackle was of that on Eden Hazard, who won the penalty and then converted it, during Arsenal’s visit to Stamford Bridge late last year. In the UEFA Champions League, though, his tackling has been way better. Koscielny has attempted 13 tackles in 6 Champions League games, winning 8 of them and particularly doing well in the 2nd leg of Arsenal’s R-16 tie against AS Monaco.

It is quite obvious from Koscielny’s defensive game that he loves a tackle and backs himself to win the ball back upon lunging in, but he has had little tackle success this season. The only inference we could take away from those stats is that Per Mertesacker, who has been woefully out of form this season following Germany’s successful World Cup campaign, has not helped his central defensive partner’s cause by being too slow and getting caught out of position too easily, forcing Koscielny into making that last-ditch effort to save his side from conceding.

The 29-year old Frenchman has, however, been prolific in winning aerial duels. In the Champions League, Koscielny has won 14 of his 22 attempted duels and in the Premier League: the 6’1″ defender has enjoyed 56% success in 109 aerial duels. 2 of Koscielny’s 3 Premier League goals have been headed ones too, which shows the Frenchman’s aerial prowess despite not being that tall a defender. His goal against Crystal Palace on the opening day of the season was mighty pivotal, as it triggered a come-from-behind victory for the North Londoners.

Koscielny has also committed 16 fouls in 20 Premier League games, 4 of which have resulted in yellow cards. In terms of averting danger, the Frenchman has averaged 6 clearances and 4 interceptions per game, both in the Champions League as well as in the Premier League. The Frenchman has improved his form from the early phases of this season, when he predominantly played alongside Mertesacker or Calum Chambers, and didn’t have the kind of support he would have hoped for. Maybe, with Gabriel Paulista coming into the Arsenal setup during the January transfer window, Koscielny finally has a defensive partner who could bring the best out of him and not make him play the ‘sweeper’ role as often as he has had to while playing alongside Mertesacker.


Tags Chambers Gabriel Koscielny


  1. He is very underrated…. Laurent on a good day, is one of the best CBs in the league; top 5 I will say

  2. His reading of the game has improved massively it’s not all about his pace now he’s anticipating situations a lot more.

  3. I think he was seriously hurting from that Achilles injury. Hopefully it has fully healed now, but it is clear after he rested for a couple games, he came back and was the BOSS again.

    Gabriel has helped some, Coquelin has helped a lot, and I think Monreal and Ospina have also contributed to the overall defense being improved in the second half.

    Kos’s game has always been about his athleticism. He has consistently improved his positioning, but he likes to move around and clean up messes, take chances on tackles and interceptions, and press the attack at midfield to slow it down. When he is carrying an injury that hurts athleticism, it hurts his game more than most defenders because of the way he plays. Per did not help this because he relied on Kos’s athleticism to clean up his messes too often.

    I have often thought that Kos is our best player in the air, not Per, not Giroud, not anyone. I still remember Andy Carrol schooling Per in the air. For our next game against West Ham, Kos took him on and kept him in his pocket all day, not letting him have ANY meaningful headers.

    The only question for me is how Kos will age. Because his game is so reliant on his athleticism, I wonder if he will be able to make the transition to later years when he starts to slow down. Look at Distin or Thiago Silva, who have made that transition from relying on athleticism early on in their careers to being more classic CB’s in their later years. It is definitely possible, but it requires high intelligence to make the switch. If he can do this well, he may be a fixture for us for 10+ more years. If not, he will likely fade into his early thirties. I think he can do it.

    In any case, I think that lingering achilles problem was to blame for most of his early season struggles. We need to watch that carefully and make sure it is fully healed this offseason.

    1. Give mert some credit dude, yes he messed up alot this season but he was paired with many makeshift defence.

      1. Oh, I’m not a Per hater by any stretch. But Per did not adjust his game to Kos playing with an achilles problem, and neither did the rest of the defense.

        Per is still a great defender, but I fear our system of defense (or lack of one) is hurt too much by his lack of speed. Positioning means nothing if you are stuck on 2-on-2 or 3-on-2 breaks as often as Per and Kos have been at times. In those situations athleticism, one on one defending, and most of all luck are needed. A good, balanced defensive style would show Per for what he is: perhaps the best defender of his generation.

        1. @ sd

          Regarding what you said about his Achilles, everytime he’d play he looked like he was playing in pain to me. There was something about the way he was running but it looked like it was definitely bothering him. I hope he’s fully healed now

        2. You will know that if we are exposing our CBs to too many “2-on-2 or 3-on-2” situations then we have a bigger problem elsewhere on the field. If you are relying on the pace of a CB to rectify these 1-on-1 problems you are never gonna win anything over the distance as a team – most decent attackers will rip a new one in a back-peddling CB no matter who he is. OK a pacey CB may occasionally pull out a highlight reel tackle but to admire that is to miss the point imo. Way, way more to a CB than pace – really bugs me that “pace” is seen as the panacea for all defending inadequacies. Hence so much s**t talked about PM and his lack of pace – but still the fans want “speed kings” such as Howedes and Hummels.

          1. Well that’s obvious. I rambled on for a long time about that a while back. That honestly, the defenders we have are perfectly capable and that it is the offense that needs to be fixed, because we have to stop throwing so many players forward or else actually be able to out score any team anywhere.

            However, if Arsene is going to keep with that “living on a knife blade” approach to defense, pace becomes much more important. Either find defenders that can do it or admit that the system is the problem.

            And, er….guess which option Arsene is likely to take…..

            1. Sorry it was so obvious. I think you answered your own question though, the system is broke, or more specifically the system breaks down too often. A team cannot succeed if it relies wholly on rapid CBs or worse still, as you suggest “luck”, to paper off the problem.

  4. It seems like Sakho is rated much higher than Kossy. Varane and Sakho first choice for France. But that’s good for us anyway.

    1. I read somewhere Sakho starts because he’s left footed and plays LCB.. Everybody knows Sakho is all muscle no brains -type of player and worse than Kosc..

  5. BULLSHIT…kosc is great 4 us bt what i like most about him z that he is a cool guy..u never hear him say anytn in the media!

    1. Agreed class off the pitch. But on the pitch this trait hampers him and us imo – my only serious qualm about him as a footballer – he is too quiet. You hardly ever see/hear him saying anything on the pitch. Put a proper gob on him and he could have been the leader we have cried out for for so long now.

  6. Laurent Koscielny started out as a CB on the bench for a 2nd divison French team. He has come a long long way. If we fans appreciated defending more than goal scoring than he would easily be our Player of the year for the last 3 years. He has been incredible for us. Even incredible is sort of an understatement. When he finally makes his partnership with Gabriel, it will be interesting times for us. Easily our best CB since Sol Campbell.

    1. I actually voted for Kos on last year’s poll 🙂

      Defenders are always underrated because of what fans pay most attention to. Why was it that Vermaelen was always rated highly? Because he made so many runs forward and was involved in the attack.

      I will be interested to see who gets the nod as the CB duo at the start of next year. With a full summer of Gabriel, will he fully overtake Per or will we start off next season with Per and Kos again?

  7. I think Mertesacker had a lot to do with how good Koscielny is now. His position time ago was very bad but he conpensated that with his peace, last season he and BFG was almost the best partnership of the premier league, this season BFG has going down in level however I think he made something very good at Koscielny

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