Koscielny Reaches the 100-Club: Looking Back at his Career with Arsenal
At the start of the 2010/11 campaign, Arsenal had allowed mercenary William Gallas, the shaky Phillippe Senderos and the trial version of Pascal Cygan, Mikael Silvestre, to leave the club, so getting new defensive personnel was a top priority.
Thomas Vermaelen had just finished his first campaign with the club, and boy, he looked like the real deal with his aggression, commanding abilities, gung-ho style and of course, his six goals in his debut campaign. Arsene Wenger responded by signing a relatively unknown center back from FC Lorient, Laurent Koscielny, and some experienced chap from Sevilla, Arsenal’s Man of Steel, Sebastien Squillaci.
With the long-term absence of Thomas Vermaelen courtesy of an Achilles tendon injury, Koscielny and the much-maligned Johan Djourou forged a very strong understanding and earned a catchy joint nickname, Djourcielny.
The way his career has turned around is a massive fairytale. Koscielny began his career as a right back in Guimgamp but when he moved to Tours FC, a Ligue 2 outfit, he professed his desire to play as a center back. In his second season at Tours FC, he was an ever-present figure, missing only four league appearances and he earned a place in the Ligue 2 Team of the Year at the end of that season.
FC Lorient snatched him up for €1.7m and he was also a regular starter in the mid-table outfit, amassing a 100% tackle rating. With the exits of Mercenary Gallas, Phillippe Senderos and Mikael Silvestre, Arsene Wenger offered this lad a chance to play top flight football on a consistent basis.
He notched up 43 appearances in his first season at Arsenal and even got on the scoresheet three times. His account opener was in the 6-0 mauling of Blackpool, his next was a solid header against Ipswich and his last and most important, was the match winner against Everton in February 2011.
He has also received two red cards in Arsenal colors, the first on his debut against Liverpool and the other for a professional foul on Nile Ranger when Newcastle visited the Emirates.
The lowest point of his Arsenal career will undoubtedly be that infamous cock-up he had with Wojciech Szczesny in the Carling Cup final but he had an excellent season for Arsenal by his standards.
Koscielny had grown in confidence and ability that season and he became a contender for the Player of the 2010/11 Season alongside Alex Song and everyone’s favorite, Robin van Persie. At the end of the 2010/11 season, Koscielny had amassed over 4,000 minutes of football that spanned across four competitions, making him the most-fielded player in that campaign.
In the 2011/12 season, Thomas Vermaelen recovered from his lengthy layoff following an Achilles tendon injury and played alongside Koscielny in the heart of Arsenal’s defense. Koscielny endeared himself into Arsenal hearts with consistent stellar performances that even made him to overshadow Thomas Vermaelen in the heart of Arsenal’s defense.
Vermaelen ran out of superlatives for his defensive partner labeling him as a key ingredient to Arsenal’s success story in forthcoming campaigns. Koscielny’s most telling contribution in the 2011/12 season was the final goal he scored at the Hawthorns, that sealed a third place finish for the Gunners, despite a rather torrid start to the season.
At the start of last season, Koscielny signed a long-term deal with the club, much to the delight of his manager, fellow players and fans alike. Arsene Wenger also acquired the services of Olivier Giroud, a close friend of Kos that played with him in Tours FC in the yesteryear.
Wenger, understandably, favored Per Mertesacker to play alongside his captain, so chances for Koscielny were few and far between. Vermaelen continued to make high-profile errors but his armband acted like a “shield”. Arsene Wenger reached his breaking point with Vermaelen in the North London Derby defeat and in a crunch clash against Bayern Munich in the Allianz Arena, Wenger dropped his captain for Koscielny, and the Gunners fought hard to keep a clean sheet.
Koscielny also scored late in the other end of the pitch which put Bayern in turmoil but Arsenal’s 2-0 victory wasn’t enough as the damage was already done in the first leg.
Alongside, Mertesacker in the heart of Arsenal’s defense, the Gunners won eight and drew two from 10 games which was only enough for a fourth placed finish. Koscielny, again, scored the decisive goal that guaranteed Champions League football for the Gunners and the fans voted the Frenchman behind Santi Cazorla for the Player of the Season award.
This season, Koscielny has picked up where he left off, and with Mertesacker a mainstay in the team, Kos continues to keep Vermaelen out of the side. He and the BFG have developed a telepathic understanding and the club is reaping the fruits, as Arsenal has kept six clean sheets in their last seven games, which include the likes of Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund. If the Gunners had managed to keep a clean sheet against Manchester United, they would have amassed seven clean sheets in a row, which is no mean feat.
Following the 3-0 drubbing of Cardiff City last weekend, Koscielny became the 41st Arsenal player to have played over 100 Premier League games for the club. The club’s official website published an exclusive article on the French superstar and trust me, it’s worth a read.
In 139 appearances thus far for the club, Koscielny has scored 10 goals and he has a penchant for scoring very important goals for his team.
Here’s to Laurent Koscielny – from an unknown entity languishing in the lower echelons of French football to a superstar at Arsenal football club.
Gooner Daily has been nominated for the Best Sports blog category in the 2013 Nigerian Blog Awards. Please vote!
You can download the Gooner Daily BlackBerry App to receive notifications on your Smart Phone when a post is published.
You can follow Gooner Daily on Twitter @goonerdaily. I’ll follow back
Feel free to visit Gooner Daily’s Facebook page and click on the like button.
You can also join Gooner Daily’s Mailing List to get notifications of new posts by email by clicking on the Follow button