Signed three years ago from lowly French side Lorient, now, he is a leader in defence and a colossus in attack. When Wenger signed him as a replacement for departing center-back William Gallas who quit the club after falling foul of Wenger’s age policy, Le Prof was severely maligned by fans, pundits and punters who vilified him for making a move for yet another unknown inexperienced player to fill the void left by a hugely experienced one.
Then, I wasn’t surprised at their outburst and neither will I blame for their actions. Koscielny’s CV left a whole lot to be desired; only a season in top flight French football and even then, it was not for one of the top teams in French Ligue (Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux) but for a lowly French side Lorient. How on earth did Wenger expect him to cope with the rigours of European football? But Wenger is rarely wrong when spotting a talent. He prefers his diamond rough and dirty so that he can cut and polish it to his own shape and liking.
He has thrived in European games and till date, one of his best games in the Champions League has been against Barcelona when he in conjunction with Vermaelen stopped the furry of Barcelona’s attack that had Messi plus a fully-fit and lethal Villa. It won’t be out of place to say that Koscielny has grown in leaps and bounds with his stocks rising sky high since he walked through the Emirates’ gates as a green horn 3 years back.
In his short stint at Arsenal, it hasn’t all been a smooth sailing for him as he had had to pick himself up severally when he wasn’t crashing to earth; against Birmingham in the Carling Cup final when his gaffe gifted the upstarts the trophy and last season when his rash challenge on Dzeko got him sent off and made Arsenal loose the match. The true strength of a man is not in never falling but in rising each time he kisses the earth. With Wenger offering his shoulder, Koscielny had always risen back into reckoning. After the Birmingham debacle, he rose to give a committed performance against Barcelona at the Nou Camp. Last season, after his gaffe against Manchester City, he came back strongly, displacing Thomas Vermaelen at the heart of the defence and helping Arsenal embark on a long unbeaten streak that culminated in a top 4 finish.
Lauren Koscielny has two sides to his game. Not only is he a colossus in defence, he is also a huge threat in attack from set pieces and open play. The French defender is a ball playing one and is gifted with pace and decent tricks that see him ghost past his markers and make a foray into opponents goal area. In this way, he had won us penalties in the past and also made important assists. His impact from set-pieces cannot be ignored. He has scored goals from them and how important were those goals. Let’s relieve some of them. Against Everton in his first season, he scored the goal that helped Arsenal win the game from a goal down. In the 2nd leg against AC Milan, he scored an early goal that galvanized the Gunners and almost saw them upturn the 1st leg huge deficit. How about against Bayern Munich, he scored a late second goal for Arsenal. That goal gave a nervy end to a tie that was regarded as dead rubber. Arsenal have been in the Champions League for the past two seasons and they have his goals to thank for it. He scored the all important third goal against West Brom that saw Arsenal clinch 3rd and also the solitary goal against Newcastle that helped the Gunners to 4th.
Three years down the line, he is no longer the unknown potential from the lower rungs of French football. He is been coveted by Pep Guardiola who wanted him at Barca and now at Bayern. Also, he is a full fledged French international. Dear Koscielny, to whom much is given, much more is expected. Wenger gave you the chance and belief needed to succeed at the highest level, the least you can give back in return is your loyalty and better performances for the team. Don’t tow the destructive path of past stars that left at the height of their powers. At 28, you are inching closer to your peak, let those years be spent with us and hopefully, there will be plenty silverwares to lift. Then and only then can you be spoken of in the same legendary breath as the true legend Tony Adams.