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Thank You Laurent Koscielny.

Koscielny and Giroud’s careers for me have echoes of players whose careers bloomed in their mid-twenties taking them belatedly from the lower leagues to the top level.

And the stories of the two Frenchmen shine in the comparisons, Koscielny only denied that WC winners medal by injury as he hobbled and winced his way through 2017/18.

Rising to prominence with the Arsenal after his late bloom Koscielny’s story with France encapsulates his story, his quality and standing in the sport.
That aggressive style targeting the ball and not the man (almost always) and the infamous red card as the red mist descended against a hacking and diving opponent in the World Cup qualifier away in Ukraine was a proud tribute to Diaby though his teammates that day had better luck in comparison with the officials for the rest of the contest then the Arsenal. France eventually went through and after spell out the team Deschamps who had no choice but to punish him for such a high profile incident (much less provocation then, say, Diaby!) eventually brought the Arsenal man back to lead his defence.
Deschamps is an admirable coach for me and being blessed by France’s relentless football production line he had the quality and by 2018 experience in Varane to cope with the loss of his senior CB at that time, clearly the Arsenal man was his senior CB from about 2014-18.

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There was to my eyes a first high level partnership for Koscielny at Arsenal with Vermaelan before his skipper was struck low by injuries from which he wouldn’t recover. Some never felt Vermaelan played as a top level CB. I have no idea about Vermaelan’s qualities as a CB, but I’m happy to confess I thought he was good. By my measure he didn’t get an instant song like the BFG but did get a very popular and corny nickname, t-shirts and all. Pretty good at least! Objectively after his move to Barcelona he continued as a squad player (given the ongoing injuries!) at the highest level for club and country for a long time after he left. understandably given the appreciation that AFC can’t and couldn’t afford to bench top players on high wages (unless their names are Ramsey and Özil?).I’d like to have seen more of that combination, before Vermaelan was struck down by the football gods.

Fortunately we didn’t have to wait too long for the next exciting chapter: Mertesacker.

In transfer terms, a Cazorla at CB. A worldie for literal peanuts. And a pre-season friendly.
Arsene Vulture soaring at his best but you might have missed it due to shrieking hungry hyenas left scavenging in the wind of that mighty swoop upon the Bundesliga. But I don’t think the Arsenal fans missed it. Given the songs etc. given his continuing story at the club. A different universe to one where the club spends £30M on a rookie teenage playing in France never mind Bolton (please ask Sven, George Graham, Paul Davis or John Jenson what I mean, if you find my meaning too cryptic – Fa Cup winner and top level prospect pre-injury Holding only cost £2M!).

And a captain too. A huge presence at the Arsenal alongside Arteta. The Big Friendly German was never accepted by the media outside of Arsenaldom, an obvious result given the German and Arsenal mix, but he arrived having already played in two tournament finals, all the way to the final,I think,  for Germany. and left with a WC winners medal and over a hundred caps on the mantelpiece. A serious career, ending as an undeniable legend of German Football.

Like the hugely admired and equally legendary Cazorla, Mertesacker won his first club honours with The Arsenal.

Everyone knows this great player began to lose what little pace he had in 2014 and eventually he played on a season too long after that glorious performance against Champions Chelsea in the 2017 cup final after not having played for most of that season, but no one blamed the lack of funds back then. No big deal for me, it happens, but the comparison with Koscielny in his waning years is interesting and that’s why I’ve drifted into discussing Mertesacker.

The contrast with Koscielny’s speed, his agility, his aggression, the highlight performances especially against Barcelona and Munich that brought appreciation of this player to a wider audiences, an amazing defender to watch play, who played on the physical edge. Not at risk to others, not often, but his own stretching sinew.

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My simple belief is that one of the many reasons we all love football is that it pits people of different physiques against each other (one reason the laws on hacking are so ancient and easy to understand*coughs*).
Campbell had one style, Mertesacker another, older greats. And Koscielny had this intense physically demanding style, so demanding on stamina and strength, when I would watch him in his pomp I didn’t imagine he’d be able to play much at the top level past thirty. I was wrong, but for the tendon strife he has.The kind of CB most football fans like to see, hobbling, grimacing along even when past their best years giving their best, which last season was still the best in the squad! I have high hopes for Holding if he survives the hacking. And he had a knack for the odd important goal too.

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No doubt the combination of style and physique between Koscielny & Mertesacker helped make them such a successful and widely appreciated combination. Though I don’t feel that’s a requirement, we can also refer to Koscielny’s partnerships with Varane and others for France.I recall Remy whilst still at Marseille, at his quickest, being incapable of dribbling past the BFG except on one or at the most two occasions over two legs when Sagna dived in to clear the danger.

Between this fear of attempting a dribble past Mertesacker’s telescopic legs, staggering how often high level forwards gave up in games and looked for an easier option, or the fear of Koscielny snapping at their heels, most forwards did not look forward to the contest against this Arsenal pair. It was great to watch and it helped to bring about a great era to Arsenal Football Club.

Bar an attack of nightmares and demons from the upside down underworld upon the saintly calves of the blessed Santi Cazorla this pair might’ve had a league title to add to their triumphs. The most recent, previous Arsenal team had two Worldies at CB and three further up the field, not forgetting the world’s number one and most handsome target man, the man with literally the Midas touch. Or Rambo.

Laurent Koscielny was at the heart of a successful Arsenal post war spell. One of only a few. I have my ratings for these spells, I’m sure you all do too hehe! For those who have trouble trusting the numbers in a sport that pits eleven against eleven: the stats don’t lie. Ignoring the trophy haul data, focusing purely on the Football:
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Post Mertesacker.Given the disappointment at missing that WC winners medal, given the disappointment of missing out on a Europa cup with the Arsenal, the undoubted disappointment of experiencing his waning skills opposing his friend and colleague Giroud, not forgetting the disappointment from that fatigued last tackle in extra time of the Euro 2016 final as we all began to see this superman talent begin to wane, the disappointment at The Shambles (® Billy Big Blagger) at the Arsenal with his squad (he is the Captain!) last season, I can empathise with this player wanting a change, or just wanting to play at a lower less intense level.

I have no doubt Koscielny turned down one or two big offers from big clubs over the years. I had hoped he’d stay and play the role Mertesacker played so well from the bench and dressing room for a season. Again we all know about the additional season for Mertesacker and the lack of moolah but I don’t care about the monies. I hear that some do. I’m just a hopeless football romantic who was hoping the veteran Koscielny would stay and player-coach Holding and others for another season whilst playing the odd game etc., as the senior players do.

I, romantically, imagine that the public comments from his French colleagues about his love for the club might result in some expression of love. From somewhere. I mention no names. Perhaps the heat has melted my brain?

Whatever happens next in his career I wish club captain and world class defender during his time at the club Laurent Koscielny well and would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his efforts on behalf of The Arsenal.

Penny for the thoughts of Arsenal coach Per Mertescaker.

yours sincerely
Finsbury

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90 comments on “Thank You Laurent Koscielny.

  1. Elneney and Torreira back in training today

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  2. Its official, Pepe has landed

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Excited about Pepe joining. Could it mean we will end up with a City/ Pool type strike threat which, in turn, helps with their defence (by making teams very wary of committing many forward on attacks) ? I don’t know, but seems possible.

    No snarkiness in this, but I am ignoring what I saw of him in two Afcon games (really off it) and the fact his strike record, sans pens, last year must be very similar to Gervinho’s in his last, very successful year in Ligue 1 (with Lille I think, 24, Ivorian!!)

    I’m relying on how accomplished some of those finishes were in last year’s highlights reel and fact club have surely watched him closely, and been mightily impressed, for a long time for such an outlay.

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  4. Big thanks is due to Kozza the Bosscielny one of my fav players for simply being a trier and top quality at the end when everyone doubted if he would come good.
    To me he is a reflection of Arsenal in the sense not much was expected from a defender purchased from ligue 2 that was prone to the odd mistake here and there.
    He proved the doubters wrong won stuff, was a leader and a world class defender that should really have won more esp that World Cup. Anyways thanks Boss

    Feeling positive today! Pepe looks class and much needed pace back in the side, got to admit Cabellos (whatever) looks class (a bit Carzolaish), Willock (really should have got games last yr but im staying positive) looks good. plenty of positives at the mo.

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  5. stillarich – seen just a few Youtube vids but i try to look for the vids where they show other contributions than goals and assists. apart from the goals and assist, his other attributes are very very good. cant wait to see him link with Ozil and Cabellos if Emery doesn’t start playing funny games (stay positive, stay positive)

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  6. I’ll get excited when I see something on the pitch to get excited about. Doesn’t matter who we buy if the coach can’t set the team and tactics up to get the best out of his best players.

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  7. Pepe officially announced and Teirney is trending on twitter WTF is wrong with some fans. They care more about buying players than watching them play.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. Pepe reminds me of a slightly less elegant Alexander Hleb with a little more pace…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m more excited by Joe Willock, Eddie Nketiah and Rhys Nelson and Smith Rowe…who knows I might renew my subscription to Sky And BT Sports….

    Liked by 2 people

  10. passenal – thats in the back of my mind too but for now fresh season, fresh start.
    At least now there are no excuses for some of the spam we seen last season.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thanks again George for letting me pay tribute to a footballer you’ll remember me saying played football the way I once dreamed of playing when running about in the park.

    You’ll also remember why I’m overjoyed about fast forward who can dribble and score improving the squad.
    Not sure he’s in the same class as the previous No.19 but I hope you’ll enjoy his footy more then you did Alexis.
    Hopefully he’ll be more of team player then the previous similar style player as it’s essentially up to the players on the pitch to set the style. And prefers to wear Predator boots over the Chameleon or the Boomerang* (also known as the Cut-Back). Haha yikes.

    *If you want to you can refer to Brighton’s goal in the least league game. I wouldn’t recommend it.

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  12. “Perform or perish” says @shardgooner as he analyzes #Arsenal transfers in the UnCensored blog: https://uncensoredarsenal.com/index.php/transfers-hope-for-emery-and-arsenal/

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  13. GP, and Saka there is so much to get excited about in the youth set up with so many knocking on the door now. I hope we build the team around them going forward.

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  14. “Welcome NP19 to the greatest football club the world has ever seen”.

    With the stable of players he’ll be joining I am quite excited for the coming season. Pépé is primarily a self-directed street footballer like Özil & Alexis and I can’t wait to partake of his bespoke take on the beautiful game in gunner colours.

    The clear distinction between him and Zaha I think is in swiftness of thought. Greater mental flexibility or headroom means higher room for improvement and growth for our new #19. Barring injuries, I think we are in for a treat with Nicolas Pepe.

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  15. Goodbye and best of luck to Krystian Bielik who I predict will become a top player in a few years.

    From Gnabry, to Bennacer, Malen, Ozyakup, C.Willock,….Arsenal (..cough, cough AW) sure did know how to pick ‘em. The impatience of the herd via bloggers, as pre-empted by the greedy agents, leeches, the envious & facilitating PGMOL really did a job on the long term operating policies of the club. Can’t hide it but a part of me resents paying 72m for any player not named Messi…

    Liked by 3 people

  16. I fancy Bielik will go on to become a very good player, maybe even an absolute star, but, while disappointed, can understand why we’ve done it. Not like I can say he’s a completely sure thing either.

    Ideally, it would be new contract and loan to championship for year, in which case we could easily have a 20-25 mill player on hands instead of ten but everything suggests Bielik is very eager to get going and wouldn’t have gone for that.

    Good luck to him.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Not sure what has changed, aside from massive difference in transfer prices, but feels like we have way more former youth players spread out at home and abroad than used to have.
    Admittedly, I’ve been following team more obsessively than ever last 5 years or so, including youth, so in previous time wouldn’t have been so aware of comings and goings below first team. But still, I’m pretty sure there’s been a big rise.
    I think among them all there’ll be plenty of good careers, maybe 1 or 2 will even reach Gnabry level, some just below that- good prem or European- then probably quite a few in championship.
    Noticed Marc Bola went to Boro other day; George Dobson on move as well to Sunderland. Crowley Birmingham. Kamara doing great at Rangers. Hayden talked of as 20 mill player. Akpom mentioned as West Ham target. Lots going on. Not sure it will slow down for a while either.

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  18. Former Arsenal defender Cohen Bramall has signed for Colchester.

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  19. Osman
    @OsmanZtheGooner
    ·
    3h
    Arsenal young Nigerian Kelechi Nwakali one step away from being a new player of the @SDHuesca
    (in Spain). The Spanish team won’t pay a fee for the player but Arsenal will include a sell on clause in the deal.

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  20. odd rumor doing the rounds, Coutinho to Arsenal on a season loan with a buy option

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  21. Well that is a very odd rumour indeed and I can’t see why we would suddenly want that level of wages on the books when we already have a seeming wealth of inside forwards. Maybe a sign that Mikhitaryan is on the move?

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  22. Ed, you’re the man to clarify this. Saw somewhere yesterday we only have room for one more non home grown in squad and Tierney doesn’t count as home grown. Sound right?

    As for Coutinho rumour….whaaat?! He’s a great talent but surely no way. Would be a youth killer for season for sure, not to mention impact on 1 or 2 big senior players as well.

    Be very surprised if all focus isn’t on defensive side, as at moment, with Kos off especially, seems a pretty large imbalance between attacking resources and defensive.

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  23. Iwobi was wretchedly misquoted talking about Zaha the other day, but if remember right there were some (sensible comments) in there about what it would mean if we added a huge signing in his position/s.

    Pepe operates from right I believe but nonetheless he, and Ceballos maybe, will exert serious pressure to Iwobi’s gametime.

    I think he’ll be sensible about it, fight for place, but also mind could quickly and understandably turn to what options he has if not getting minutes he needs at this stage.

    Will be interesting. Fingers crossed he meets challenge well. Overall, his Afcon was pretty good, and was ,intriguingly, deployed purely in central attacking mid/ 10 from first game onwards. Nelson will surely want plenty of games this year as well, as will Willock, and Eddie if not loaned. No way enough minutes to go around for everyone, esp if Mkhitaryan stays, as I expect he will, and we basically try extract value- i.e by playing him- from wages he gets.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. yeah rich as things stand we have 16 non homegrown and the limit is 17, Tierney as a Scot would be non homegrown, all the talk about a CB is also about non homegrown, so if we do sign a few more non homegrown then we certainly have to move on some of those we already have, koscielny, Elneney and Mustafi with maybe Mkhitaryan too as the most likely

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  25. Rich maybe we will loan out Mavropanos, if he is ever fit enough for someone to take him, there is lots of scope to make more non homegrown places in the next 6 days, also its only the English in coming transfer window that shuts next Thursday at 5pm, so we would still be able to move players on to other leagues till the end of August.

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  26. @babagrumpy absolutely nailed it in the UnCensored blog. It is scary how over the last three years Arsenal have come to rely on transfers but the football has gotten worse.
    https://uncensoredarsenal.com/index.php/arsenals-scary-reliance-on-the-window/#comment-165

    Liked by 2 people

  27. I see that so many people are excited about pepe and rightly so because of the amount involved and the hype around the player. But I have to wait till I see him play for us. Partly because I wasn’t very impressed with his performance at afcon and the fact that I don’t trust the work of the guys running the club at the moment. Especially the way they handled Rambo contract. They act based on the impulse of the press and lousy fans.

    What can I say about Laurent, due to the shambolic way the present guys run the club, were are losing the service of another honest servant. Someone that truly love this club and always show how grateful he is for the privilege to play for arsenal. What can I say. Let emery bring his own players.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Rob Holding played an hour for our U23’s in their 6-1 win over a Watford XI in a behind closed doors friendly at London Colney today

    Liked by 1 person

  29. we now have less than 120 hours of the in coming transfer window left, the Tierney rumors rumble on, we are linked to several CB’s, and oddly enough to Coutinho too

    Liked by 1 person

  30. The football season starts today!

    Bartley and Gibbs starting for West Brum.

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  31. #wecaredoyou
    #youspendwespend
    #spendspendspend
    #theonlywayischelsea
    #freedomofchoice!!!

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  32. Ben Sheaf played the full 90 for Doncaster today and Dan Ballard came off the bench to make his league debut for Swindon

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  33. Partizan Belgrade have announced the signing of Asano on a permanent deal

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  34. Last season following the opening 2 games Arsenal went on that unbeaten incredible. Yet it always seems as if we were there for the taking as our defense was all over the place, but thankfully Auba and Lacazette were in good nick and truly spared our blushes. This was also the time where Özil and Ramsey were being “used sparingly”.

    In the middle part of the season, following a few poor results Özil and Ramsey got drafted back in. We immediately got our season back on track, beating both Valencia and Napoli handsomely in Europa. For a time there we went 7 or 8 games conceding just one goal. Then after we lost Ramsey old habits crept back in with our defense once again having to carry more of the workload.

    Now I know it’s fancy to say our defense are poor and that Mustafi is the cause of all that. If you point out his high defensive numbers, they say it’s because he’s “a busy player”.

    Now when Özil and Ramsey was together in midfield our defense weren’t that busy. Which brings me to this.

    Didn’t the high turnover of possession in midfield contribute to to us constantly playing on the backfoot… and there’s only so much our defense can do. I mean, do we really expect Mustafi to put in 10 successful tackles per game, 10 interceptions per game or 10 blocks per game when the likes of VVD, Laporte or English treasure Harry Maguire averages around 6 or 7?

    So for me, if we fix the problems in midfield and make possession a priority, jealously protecting the ball to not needlessly giving it away, it will take a lot of the burden off our defense and maybe then we could see what an attack boasting Auba, Lacazette and Pépé can do if we keep them on the front foot.

    I know our defense are not the best in the world but I also don’t agree that they are rubbish. Last season they were over burdened and that needs to end.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Have to agree with LaboGoon about our defense and Shkodran.
    The DM position has been a weakness for seems like eons now. I call it the curse of Gilberto. Since the season AW parked G. Silva (even after he returned from injury) for “swashbucklingly-seeking-Milan” Flamini , we’ve not looked solid in the middle of the park.

    Why even UE does not see the need for a powerful ball retaining DM almost makes one feel like I’m angling for a position that’s lost its value in top class football till I look around and see that..oh, Pep, Zizou, Klopp, Sarri, Simeone,..Pochettino..essentially ALL of today’s top managers still believe in the need for a top #6.

    So, yes we need a CB but clearly Mustafi was never the problem. For the past 12 years, our CBs have always been overworked. We need a new Gilberto!

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  36. Exactly Aman. Our CB’s being overworked points to issues being elsewhere on the pitch. And I know this last season many raved about Torreira but look how high up the pitch even he plays. Many of our best performances last season; Chelsea at home, Liverpool at home, Manutd at home, Spurs home and away we had Ramsey and Xhaka at central midfield and Özil taking care of possession.

    One of George’s pet peeves, before most of loudmouths cared enough to admit it, was how Alexis kept giving the ball away. Because it immediately put everyone else behind him under pressure and scrambling to get back. Alexis may be gone now but we the problem of turning over possession in midfield hasn’t quite gone away.

    I really hope this season there won’t be such an over-reliance of playing it down the wings. Sead is not the best at keeping possession and I saw a whoscore tweet that Pépé lost the ball more than any other player in Ligue 1.

    We need to keep the ball down the middle of the park where Xhaka, Özil and the youngster Ceballos will be. Emery got the tools now and with his contract up for review end of the season its time to play to our strengths.

    Blowing north of £100m (transfer fee and wages) of the £300m Adidas money, over the 5 year course of his contract makes one think during that time an expectation could be to genuinely challenge for the PL title.

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  37. Any guesses for line up next week?

    Think good chance Ceballos and Pepe will start as subs. Torreira not back long, definitely too soon for Iwobi. Think about 80-20 back four vs 3.

    Willock and even more so Ozil perhaps two most interesting calls. Won’t be decisive if start or not but surely a very strong indication of where they stand if they do/don’t.

    My guess: Leno; Maitland-Niles, Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal; Xhaka, Guendo, Ozil; Mkhi, Auba, Laca.

    I’d prefer Willock over Mkhi, but think that would mean Ozil ostensibly being in wide-is position, and doubt we’d do that.

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  38. At Uncensored I did a preview of FCBvAFC. Over the years Gooners could brag with pride, echoing the words of our manager: “We do not buy superstars. We make them.”
    Now we have little to brag about.
    https://uncensoredarsenal.com/index.php/barcelona-v-arsenal-no-bragging-by-gooners/#comment-176

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  39. Labo is now the star turn………as you were.

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