Was Koscielny’s Demise Exaggerated? by Dan Smith
There’s a lot that divides us Gooners at the moment. Is Iwobi good enough? Should Ozil be sold? But on the basis of the Chelsea game have some been a bit quick to write off Koscielny?
Returning from a 9-month injury which threatened his career, perhaps we were too worried about our defensive issues to sympathise for a man who has been a great servant for the club. Ideally, he would have been nursed back slowly through cup ties, and there is no way that Emery planned to throw him back into action during the Christmas period. From that point of view, the Frenchman was let down by his team-mates injuries, his return coinciding with our other centre-backs struggling with fitness.
At a time when he had to fix himself mentally as well as physically (he missed out on winning the World Cup) he was being asked to lead a back 4/5 with low confidence. Were we expecting too much? Were we harsh to not be more patient?
This weekend he produced a real captain’s performance. It’s no coincidence that it came on an evening that we went back to basics. Once we went 2-0 up, we tactically chose to protect our lead. It was a role reversal from how this fixture usually goes. Chelsea for once were the ones with all the possession but zero end product, us the well organised machine who never looked like conceding. I’m not sure we would have done that without our skipper.
It was nice to see the gunners enjoy the art of defending, throwing bodies in the way, getting their heads to things, etc. It gives Emery something to build on, and if the Spaniard is smart, he will give this centre back pairing a run of games to form a partnership. It shouldn’t be underestimated how much a clean sheet could be the kick start we need for the second half of the campaign.
It doesn’t change that we need investment in that area. Even before Laurent was stretched off in Madrid, his Achilles issues meant he couldn’t play twice a week, his minutes will still need to be managed. Yet the idea he can’t offer anything anymore and his past his best, is perhaps premature?
I am sorry for doubting you, Captain Koscielny.