Nov 28

Laurent Koscielny: The Multi-Positional Weapon

One of the biggest positives of this season has been the continued development of Laurent Koscielny. Arsène Wenger and Arsenal confirmed the signing on 7 July 2010 and Koscielny was handed the club’s number 6 shirt. Since then, the efficiency of his game has, in combination with his bravery and technical talent, grown steadily.

Often playing against taller or similar sized centre forwards, he has great dynamic power to win the ball aerially. I am reminded of him jumping against, and beating, players such as Christopher Samba and Kenwyne Jones in matches. Samba is a dominant, huge man who could be a rugby flanker in terms of size. That the player Arsenal signed from Lorient, who looked around 70 kilograms (a light weight for someone supposedly 6 foot 1 inches tall) now weighs between 75 and 76 kilograms, has allowed him to match players naturally bigger than him. He looks noticeable thicker in his shoulder girdle area, having undergone an intensive weight training program since his arrival. A popular exercise among sportsmen is Power Cleans, and Koscielny certainly looks stronger in the muscle groups that movement strengthens.

In his natural position of central defence, Koscielny gave one of the most complete individual performances against Lionel Messi at the Emirates Stadium last season. A modern and quick footed ball playing defender, Koscielny had the focus to match the Argentine and the speed to run against him. However, this year injuries to Carl Jenkinson and Bakary Sagna have seen Koscielny play at right back – at, not surprisingly, a high standard. His recovery speed and tackling skill not only lend themselves to playing in central defence or defensive midfield but also at full back. He may not have the mobility of Sagna or the crossing skill of Jenkinson, but he matches the popular trend of deploying an imposing fullback on one flank. Barcelona’s use of Eric Abidal, Ramos at Real Madrid, Ivanovic at Chelsea, Smalling and Jones at Manchester United are examples. A third central defender in the back four arguable provides naturally greater defensive acumen and adds an additional presence to make use of at set piece plays.

George Graham and José Mourinho would probably look to take advantage of his technical skill combined with his defensive nature. As Graham once said ‘A lot of Arsenal’s defenders, they could be midfielders. They do not have the old fashioned build of a centre back.’ Graham achieved excellent results using a young Martin Keown in central midfield. Keown marked Matt Le Tissier out of games when the Southampton playmaker was at the peak of his powers. Mourinho found a winning formula using Pepe in much the same fashion last season. I would love to see Arsenal play under a more counter-attacking version of their current formula away from home, with Alex Song alongside Koscielny in the 4-2-3-1 formation. Wilshere or Ramsey have the pace and passing ability to get on the end of fast pace counters started by a tackle in midfield by Koscielny. He and Song in front of Vermaelen and Mertesacker also create a superb look of spinal power. What the team might lose in craft and style, it would gain in athleticism, bravery and muscle.

In Koscielny, Arsenal have a motivated and aggressive defender that can play the tactical, European chess match games as comfortably as he can compete on the windy, northern football pitches away from home in the Premier League. Being multi-positional and having such a duality to his game, I anticipate he is readily adaptable to whatever style is employed by his manager for club or country. What does this mean for Arsenal and Koscielny? Clean sheets, good possession, caps and many appearances.

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6 Responses to “Laurent Koscielny: The Multi-Positional Weapon”

  1. hal says:

    Koscielny has most certainly improved on his frankly average performances of last season. However the current mania about him is OTT as criticism of him was last year.

    He is certainly worth persevering with at the club . However, I think the real success story of the Arsenal defence this year has been the staggering improvement since Mertesacker was introduced. Those who point to his clumsiness are missing the point. Yes Koscielny is a better ‘footballer’ in the purist sense. But he just isn’t what we need alongside Vermaelen. Sooner or later those two would find themselves roughed up by stronger opponents. The balance of the defence is much better with Per alongside Vermy. I think anyone can see that The German is an organiser, one of those defenders whose best work is not noticed because his positional sense is sound. To prefer Kos to him in any game (and please dont let anyone come up with the laughable driver of changing centre halves depenidng on the opposition) would be a terrible step backwards. Lets be happy that we have something to build on at the back now, and that if Vermy does get injured, Kos can step in for him (or indeed Sagna). But it will be a sad reversion to bad old days if Kos and Vermy are allowed to be the number 1 choice.

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  2. Sai says:

    @hal: In the 288 minutes Koscielny and Vermaelen have played as CB together this season, they’ve conceded 0 goals. In the 428 minutes Mertesacker has played as CB with Vermaelen has conceded 4 goals.

    As for interceptions; Koscielny has the highest average interceptions per game in the entire Premier League.

    Don’t get me wrong I love Mertesacker. But he still needs time to adapt, and will only get better but right now Koscielny and Vermaelen together are unstoppable. And Wenger knows it too. Just a pity Sagna and Jenkinson got injured.

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  3. G_man says:

    Hal, this is nonesense. Kos is probably the quickest centre back we have. Can read the game exceptionally well and has the best aerial sucess rate at the club. To say that him being in the team ahead of Mertesacker is a ridiculous statement to make. Granted in some games it would be better to favour the physical presence of merte, in the majority of games esp kos and verms is the best pairing mainly due to the high line and pressing that Arsenal do. Can u imagine Mertesacker against Barca

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  4. kathir says:

    assert to Arsenal in cmg yrs !!!

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  5. GunnerMacedonia says:

    @hal: But it will be a sad reversion to bad old days if Kos and Vermy are allowed to be the number 1 choice.

    Read more: http://goonertalk.com/2011/11/28/laurent-koscielny-the-multi-positional-weapon/#ixzz1f2M4wVRw

    how can you something that stupid? koscielny and vermaelen only played in august last year, when kos wasnt used to the english style of playing. your judgement has no ground. now koscielny is adapted, vermalen great as always, they should be our first choice CBs, they are both quick, physical and great tacklers. mertesacker, i like him, but sometimes he is too slow, and like koscialny last year, he isnt adapted yet. i believe in time he will learn from his mistakes and in these 3 players we have very, very good options in the CB postition. for the right back, i believe the best option would be wenger to spend like 10-15 millions in the january transfer window to buy van der wiel, to give some competition for sagna, and jenkinson, who i rate very highly, should be sent on loan to gain more confidence, he jumped 3 leagues and he isnt used to the tempo.
    i believe that with van der wiel and solid centre forward arsenal will compete till the end of the season. COYG!

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  6. The next RVP says:

    Kocielney is a very good fullback he is quick, he reads the game well, has clean tackles and challenges some tall players in the air so i suggest kocielney starts a game wer the forwards are quick and met starts wer the players are big and pose a big threat in the air…

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