Koscielny … Hero or Villain? … vote and have your say …

July 12, 2019

Arsenal signed Lauren Koscielny from FC Lorient on 7 July 2010 for a fee in the region of £8.4m.

 

He’s been an Arsenal player for 9 years and now at the age of 33 is nearing the end of his career.

I doubt many Arsenal supporters had heard of Koscielny when he was announced, and his arrival was met with scorn by many fans saying that we needed proven quality, not a defender who had played most of his career in the second tier of french football.

It’s fair to say that the 9 years he’s played for Arsenal have been a struggle as the club came to terms with the debt of building the stadium and then the super rich clubs emerged putting to an end to our hopes of competing at the top once the burden of that debt was shed in 2015/16 . We’ve won FA cups and we qualified for the CL for most of that time, but we have also struggled to build a team of top quality players. Yes, we’ve had some superstars, but they have often been let down by the quality around them and reluctantly chosen to move on.

Throughout that time, Laurent Koscielny has been a beacon of light. An honest, reliable, no-nonsense hard working player who silenced his critics and earned his wages and for the most part managed to hold together a pretty shaky defence.

…. but now we  hear our club captain has refused to travel on preseason tour.

Arsenal took the unprecedented move of releasing this short statement:

“We are very disappointed by Laurent’s actions, which are against our clear instructions. 

We hope to resolve this matter and will not be providing any further comment at this time.”

None of the ‘back injury’ or ‘virus’ smokescreens employed when other players misbehave … a straight forward condemnation.

Does Kozzer deserve this?

Opinions are divided …  here are some of the excellent comments by AA bloggers on the subject.

RC78

told you guys that Kos wanted out.
Bordeaux, Rennes, Monaco interested.
Kos wants the club to free him from his last year of contract, not gonna happen. He wants basically to leave for free so that clubs can pay him a signature fee and then he could accept a lower salary.
Shame to see him leave in this fashion.

jjgsol

Kosielny is the first to try to jump ship. Is it only about money, or is it about how he sees the immediate future with UE?. Can it really be about money when he must be earning millions a year? Not a good sign of the relationship between the management and the players.

Mike M

On the Kosielny situation, I have to be honest and say (and my son will back me on this !!) that I’ve long said that he has typified what’s been wrong at Arsenal for his entire tenure. I’m certain he’s a really “nice guy” but he’s also a good loser. And as the old saying goes “show me a good loser ……. ” This doesn’t really surprise me because possibly (hopefully) Unai and his staff are ruffling a few feathers on the training ground and maybe – just maybe, he’s not being treated like porcelain god any more.

Aaron

Well, the Kos thing has come back and exploded in Arsenal’s faces. Management has known for quite some time he was wanting to go back to France, and the Arsenal played hardball.

fatgingergooner

I agree with Mike in that I think Koscielny typifies our players of the last 10 years. He’s a good player and probably the best defender we’ve had recently, but he wouldn’t have got anywhere near our double winning teams and he’s not the commanding, authoritative type we’ve been so desperate for since Campbell left the first time around.

I actually don’t have much of an issue with him wanting out. He’s 33 now so it’s not like he has time to wait around another 12 months as he will struggle to get a meaningful contract at 34. He probably wants a couple of years in France before retiring and in fairness he’s been a good servant for us and until now hasn’t whinged or moaned. He’s given a lot of years to Arsenal so I don’t think it’s totally unreasonable for him to ask the club to let him go a year early. It’s only because the club are so tight that they probably don’t want him to leave as it means going out and buying another player. It’s not as if he’s irreplaceable or so good that we can’t do without him. He should be nothing more than a fringe player really but at Arsenal he’s first choice!

Self Righteous

You’re in a dark place when the captain refuses to travel on a pre season tour, but that’s exactly what Koscielny has done and rightfully upset the club. I can only assume it’s because he’s expecting to make his move any time soon and wants to stay in touch, but isn’t that why they have their Mr 15%?

Els

Mike M – yeah I just read your take on him. I can see exactly what you mean. Pardon my french but we’ve been completely lacking in “Nasty Bastards” for a few years. Perhaps he could have done more. Mind you I still think he’s an exceptional defender, using intelligence to set him apart. If he’d have been surrounded by better defenders I doubt the problem would be laid at his door though. Also when Lukaku was at his peak he was asked who the best defender in the league was and he said that the only player he couldn’t boss was Koscielny.

Quite a sad day for me. I try my best nowadays to not really care too much about the players coming and going. He was an exception. Always popped up at the right time.

He’s quite outspoken and I’m sure he’ll talk to french media at some point. He didn’t hold back on his international team mates when he missed the world cup. Poor bloke.

I’m going to give the last word to Pat7 for his excellent appraisal .. shoot me! .. editorial license and all that …

Pat 7

IMO Kos has been a great servant of the club, giving his all and more so often so will be sorry to lose his presence but this season showed us he’s no longer capable of doing what’s necessary esp if we want to cut our goals conceded. He needed the BFG type of player behind him as he would often dive in for balls unsuccessfully but was one of the best rated in the EPL. I can’t disagree with him if he thinks Arsenal have got it wrong judging his case to continue. I think he deserves to leave for ‘softer options’ closer to his natural home. Thank you Kos for your blood, sweat and tears! I never saw him as a loser, just someone that occasionally had to realise when they were up against a better team and his best was not making the difference!

Some athletes KNOW when to call it a day and obviously, to my eyes, Kos has called it. He may have signed a contract with full faith that his heart was there but after putting his body through hell and feeling it fall apart as no cover meant him stretched even further….

It is not his fault that the ‘team’ weren’t capable. He was never the ‘best’ but was praised by many a team/pundit. Even the best have rivals that beat them, sometimes on occasion, sometimes repeatably……then it is the CB pairing or team mate responsible to provide that cover IF the team organisation is there (as per Invincibles), not Kos’ fault. He was not a great captain IMO but did his best to lead by example.

So what do you think … vote if you have an opinion and join us in comments to discuss further ….

Rasp

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William Saliba … Great! … but what about the here and now?

July 10, 2019
There is a mini furore among some Arsenal fans over Leicester’s signing of Youri Tielemans from Monaco for a club record fee believed to be £40m. This takes City’s summer spending to nearly £80m, twice the reported budget Arsenal have to play with. The feeling is that Tielemans is just the sort of player Arsenal need.

Tielemans is 3 months older than Ainsley Maitland Nyles!!!

I’m all for youth, but who are they learning from? I do like the idea of UE snapping up these young players like Martinelli and Saliba, but a club of our size should be doing that whilst at the same time bolstering the first team squad. If UE wants to be around to see these players progress then he better start improving the first team, because the likes of Leicester and Wolves will be catching us at this rate.

The defence has been a shambles for years, yet we seem to do nothing about it. Sure, there’s a world shortage of CB’s, but you’ve got to buy a ticket to win the lottery. The defence won’t improve if we sit back and do nothing (which is what it looked like last season). It’s like we got burnt with Mustafi and so we’ve stopped trying. Cut your losses, get £20m for him, and try again.

There are 2 key areas we failed last season, CB and AM. I don’t doubt Zaha would be exactly what we need in that he’s got that unpredictability that we lack, but if we can’t afford him then why embarrass ourselves? Go buy what you can afford and hope the youngsters can fill the other gaps. There’s far more potential in Nelson, Martinelli and Smith-Rowe than in that CB group. £40-£50m could get us a decent CB.

Sokratis and Koscielny are our best 2 CB’s, so why people want Koscielny to go is a strange one for me. Yes, he’s getting on, but he’s still top 2 in our side. That’s not a compliment to him by the way, more a realisation of just how poor we are in that position. Holding is coming off a serious injury, Chambers has proven himself far better at HM than he’s ever looked at CB (thank god as he was very average at CB!), Monreal is a LB regardless of what anyone says and wouldn’t get anywhere near any other top 10 PL first team playing as a CB, Mavropanos has played a handful of games so it’s far too early to judge him, and the less said about Mustafi the better I think.

You can work on shape and defensive attitude all day, but sometimes you just have to accept the players aren’t good enough and move on. Personally, I’d be selling Mustafi and Monreal. I’d bring in Tierney and look for a big name CB. I’d be using Chambers in midfield, and I’d give cup game opportunities to Mavropanos and Bielik (shame he wants out as he looks one of our more promising CB prospects).

fatgingergooner


Huddersfield 1 Arsenal 2 – Player Ratings

February 10, 2019

No Auba or Mesut due to illness and no Rambo with a slight knee.

First Half

Plenty of chances against the bottom team: Laca tackled just as he was about to pull the trigger; Wobbly into the side netting when he should have got his head up.

After a quarter of an hour, a fine cross from Wardrobe allowed Wobbly to expertly cannon a volley off a Huddersfield heel to wrongfoot the keeper and put us one up.

Looking dangerous on the break, we eventually doubled the lead when a driven cross from Maitland-Niles was simply despatched by Lacazette.

Huddersfield huffed and puffed nut were kept at arm’s length. Micki was very good on his return, finding space and using the ball intelligently. Wobbly was also having one of his better games where he looked really dangerous going forward.

Second Half

It’s difficult to say that the second half was comfortable watching.

Aside from a 10 minute spell where we should have got that crucial third goal, It seemed to be a case of holding what we’d got. Huddersfield’s lack of a cutting edge was partly responsible for us looking as though we might keep a clean sheet away from home. Leno did well but bottom of the table finishing was partly responsible for us not conceding earlier in that second period.

Photo by Oli Scarff / AFP / Getty Images

Wardrobe felt sorry for the Terriers in injury time and casually passed into his own net to send the home fans into raptures – their first goal since Adam were a lad.

Conclusion

Three points against the bottom team away from home with a team hit with injuries You can’t really ask for more. Or can you? The gulf in class should have been stamped, double-stamped and triple-stamped. Curiously, the balance of the side was much better in the first half than of recent games.

I didn’t really understand Arsenal’s second half. If Huddersfield had managed to get one back early in the second half would we have just gone up a gear to score a third? I have my doubts.

Maybe the nerves kicked in after such a poor run previously? Maybe the half time team talk was to just try to shut up shop, let the opposition have as much possession as they wished and stay solid?

Either way, it was pretty unconvincing viewing.

Ratings

Leno – great save early in the second, relatively untroubled by a castrated opponent’s forward line … 7

Mustafi – a liability yet again, some of his passing and decision-making is just shocking … 4

Koscielny – Back in control, definitely one of the classiest players on the pitch – his instant forward pass to Wobbly in the build up to the second goal was excellent … 8

Monreal – struggled manfully as always, let’s hope he stays fit … 7

Maitland-Niles – another ‘chillum in the pocket’ performance, sometimes composed and graceful on the ball, others completely lacking in urgency and nous. You would have thought he would be grabbing the chance to cement a first team spot with both hands and with the utmost eagerness, instead he’s often lackadaisical which is perplexing. Extra point for an assist … 6

Kolasinac – an assist also and he played to his strengths – calves, thighs, shoulders, biceps – shame defending isn’t really his bag … 6

Torreira – Good in the first half, presumably subbed off with a knock? … 6

Guendouzi – I’m still not sure Matteo is a defensive midfielder, but he is still only 19 so maybe even he doesn’t know … 6

Iwobi – dangerous to any defence and to any supporter’s blood pressure. Can be outstanding and then infuriating in the space of ten seconds. Great first half when he looked dangerous. Kept his goal volley down which gains him an extra point … 7

Mkhitaryan – another who had a good first half – lovely to see him breaking the lines, finding space and looking so composed with the ball at his feet – a fine return from injury before understandably fading … 7

Lacazette – I’m sensing a little Wrighty-edge to Laca’s play which I really like, his goal was on a plate but taken with aplomb – love that aggression … 7

Subs

Elneny – comical moment when he climbed all over Laca who was waiting for the ball to come down on the edge of the 6 yard box – ran around a lot … 6

Suarez –  on for Micki, didn’t really have a chance to shine again … 6

Willock – time wasting sub

Managers

Emery – got the job done which is what we ask of him. I liked the team structure far more than in recent weeks – what did he say at half time though? … 7

Wagner – even he can’t keep them from the drop … 4

Referee

Moss – oozing both incompetence and lard from every pore … 2

chas


Predictable at the Emptihad – Player Ratings

February 4, 2019

No Mesut, no Rambo – what’s the point of two top class strikers with no-one to feed them then?

First Half

Wobbly dithered and we were one down in the opening seconds of the match.

However, there followed a period of commendable effort from the whole team and the equaliser gave everyone a boost. We even looked as though we might sneak something.

The offside second put the kibosh on a positive half time talk.

Second Half

Zero efforts on goal. Hmmm.

Hand of Sergio third goal.

Arsenal flat-lined.

Conclusion

Not as bad a scoreline as it might have been and at least City cut the dippers’ lead, albeit temporarly (maybe).

Nobody’s expectations were very high for the game and at least we had over half an hour on level terms.

Ratings

Leno – good second half … 7

Lichtsteiner – just not up to it … 4

Mustafi – injured – good or bad? … 4

Koscielny – a goal stooping when Lukaku’s size 12s  must have been fresh in his mind … 6

Monreal – part of the mediocre nature of the team performance … 5

Kolasinac – not much to say … 5

Torreira – will be hoping his second season is in a better team … 6

Guendouzi – such a willing lad – shame he had little support … 7

Iwobi – such a bad start, never really recovered … 4

Lacazette – tried hard again … 6

Aubameyang – no service … 5

Subs

Suarez – a debut of microscopic proportions – best forgotten all round … 5

Ramsey – no effect on a poor second half whatsoever … 5

Mavropanos – A fit centre back – Hooray … 6

Managers

Emery – a hiding to nothing game in most senses – if we’d played a more attacking line up and got more severely thrashed, there would have been just as many complaining … 5

Pep Wagner – could he do it without the half a billion pounds budget? – not in the same way, that’s for certain … 6


If it wasn’t for bad luck, we wouldn’t …

January 29, 2019

Much of the pre-match attention will focus on the tragic loss of Sala. In a sport dominated by brusque masculinity it is rare to hear someone speak with as much dignity and emotional honesty as Neil Warnock. Hats off to the chap (henceforth known as David Wagner). I know Arsenal will handle the event with the tact and grace we expect from our club.

images-5.jpeg

Chapeau

I appreciate Mr. Wagner the man but certainly not his footballing philosophy. Wagner/Warnock knows his teams don’t have the skill sets to compete so he instills them with aggression, shit-housery and an ability to PTB. All of which we will witness this evening.

As you would expect the prime reasons for Cardiff being in the relegation zone are an inability to score goals allied to an propensity to concede. They have scored only 19 goals, second lowest to Huddersfield, and conceded 44, second highest to Fulham. Mr. Wagner has problems. Thankfully, David is used to the relegation battle and I wish him luck in keeping Cardiff in the PL, hopefully at the expense of some Northern team of cloggers.

Unknown.jpeg

Mr. Emery. These are our 3 Best Players

We go into this match with a skeleton crew of defenders. Two lost in our last match. With both Bellerin and Holding on a gap year and the young Greek lad still in the treatment room we are down to bare bones. It must be awful if Mustafi is the first name on the teamsheet 😦

There is the possibility that Koscielny may play with a mask – he can be our be our Lone Ranger with Monreal as Tonto and Mustafi as Silver (only the older reader will get that joke!)

Elneny can play central defence. A chimp can write Macbeth.

No problems upfront, just a selection. Does Mr.Emery play an attacking team or continue with the midfield diamond? You know my opinion. We are at home against a team in 19th who have picked up 5 points on the road, scoring just 6 times. It is a night to unleash the attacking talents in the squad.

I would like to see Iwobi start, alongside Ozil, PEA and Laca. Drop Ramsey and Wardrobe and Nacho playing left of a back 3. This requires Iwobi to cover much ground but the lad is young and will love running about on a chilly night in London.

We need a win after the confidence draining result last Friday and with a trip to Maine Road on Sunday.

Let it be So

COYRRG


Back in Business – Arsenal v Chelsea Ratings

January 20, 2019

No Mesut in the starting line-up. Could the team raise their performance without him after last week’s dismal showing in Stratford? You Betcha.

First Half

It was Blitzkrieg in that opening period of the game. The only disappointment was having only Laca’s wonderful strike to show for it.  We retreated a little just after the goal as if the team couldn’t quite believe it was actually winning in a first half. Pedro’s dink over the keeper was the only real moment of extreme danger, though.

We still had the better chances in the remainder of the first half including a bullet header from Kos straight at the keeper’s face. When almost exactly the same chance came again, Kos decided to use something he’d practised in training, a  no-look header (© fgg).  Fooling the Arrizabalaga that he was going to power a header again, he deftly deflected the ball off his shoulder, cushioning it into the far corner. The keeper stood as if he’d watched a magic trick. It gave us some vital breathing space before half time.

Getty Images

Second Half

Chelsea huffed and puffed but failed to really get up a decent head of steam against Arsenal’s well-organised defensive structure.

Kos even took one in the orchestra stalls blocking a pile-driver. You can see the after effects here.

OG came on from the bench and got more respect in a few minutes than he ever did while playing for the Club.

A third goal looked possible on a couple of occasions but wasn’t to be.

Conclusion

A different team performance altogether from our recent away efforts. Everything worked perfectly on the day, so a time to bask in beating our West London rivals.

One shot on target from the chavs in the whole 90. Emery using Ramsey to cut the supply lines to Hazard was a masterstroke. A superb defensive tactical display from the Arsenal and a clean sheet to boot. Not often we say that.

Reuters

Ratings (extra point for everyone for beating the chavs)

Leno – one shot on target from Alonso, saved comfortably, competent elsewhere … 8

Bellerin – such a shame just as he was regaining form and importance … 8

Koscielny – majestic in defence and cunningly brilliant for his goal … 9

Sokratis – shame he couldn’t find the net with his first half header, solid throughout …8

Kolasinac – almost looked an accomplished defender in addition to being a wardrobe on wheels … 7

Torreira – still not sure if he knows 100% what his role in the side is but he worked really hard throughout, tiring a little in the second half … 8

Xhaka – only the odd sloppy pass but generally a rock in midfield … 8

Guendouzi – perpetual motion, which sometimes make him look like a schoolboy chasing the ball over the field, ten out of ten for youthful exuberance … 8

Ramsey – excellent in that first period where we could have run away with it – the pressure’s off for Aaron, so hopefully he can have a massive positive effect on the rest of our season … 8

Lacazette – magnificent finish at the near post the like of which we have seen before from him – tireless and willing … 8

Aubameyang – A couple of belting chances not snaffled up in the first half, though the bicycle kick was unlucky … 7

Subs

Maitland-Niles – a couple of really important challenges – with Hector out, it’s time for him to push on … 8

ElNeny – tidy, and helped in the second half rearguard display … 7

Iwobi – didn’t see much of the ball up top but helped out in his own half … 7

Managers

Emery – does this make up for the West Ham debacle? – yeah , go on then, one game at a time … 9

Wagner – out thought, outplayed, lovely … 5

chas

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Additionally we have an FGG assessment of yesterday……..

Without a doubt, my favourite performance of the season.

Obviously we all enjoyed the Spurs game at home, but we’ve just beaten Chelsea without our goalkeeper making a single significant save. Tactically we were absolutely outstanding and you could see that Emery had looked at the opposition and had decided that stopping Jorginho was the way to stop that team hurting us. Ramsey dominated him for 60 minutes and then Elneny came on and stood next to him for the last half hour. We allowed them space out wide knowing that they could couldn’t hurt us with crosses, and the performances of our CB’s was a joy to watch. If we had more players who cared about the job they do as Sokratis then we would win the league. He may not be the best player, but he was absolutely immense today and you can see he cares about defending. We haven’t had a player like that for a while. Everything the Greek lacks in technical ability though, the guy stood next to him absolutely makes up for it. Koscielny oozed class and gave a defensive masterclass in positioning and guile. What a performance.

I’m not going to pretend this makes up for the last few performances, but I can see that with the right players, Emery has the tactical nous to take us forward. We just need the right players to implement what he’s asking.

Absolutely loved that 2nd half and watching the last 15 minutes knowing that Chelsea had zero chance of scoring was a rare treat. Let’s hope it continues.

Interesting to listen to Keown’s comments after the game. He seems really frustrated that Ramsey played so well today but won’t be with the team moving forward. I’ve also seen a lot of comments from Merson recently about Arsenal letting players go on the cheap. Whilst we all agree that certain things have been awful behind the scenes, I don’t understand the total negativity that comes from these people.

Personally, I believe that getting rid of players like Ramsey and Özil will see the club move forward. Emery has his own ideas about the squad and if he believes that the £350k we pay Özil and the probable £200k+ we would’ve had to pay Ramsey can result in us signing 2 or 3 players then I’m with him. Don’t get me wrong, the club could’ve handled the contract situations of Wilshere, Ox, Ramsey, Özil and Sanchez so much better than they have, but in reality, I look at that list of players and wonder how many of them really would be moving our club forward right now. Four of them have been out injured for the last month ffs, how often was that a problem for Wenger’s teams!?

Comments from FGG


Merry Christmas, Sanity is Over – Arsenal v Liverpool player ratings

December 23, 2017

Woo, that turned out better than I expected a good way into proceedings.

Slightly disappointed that we didn’t come away with all three points just to be able to rub their noses in it but hey ho, we could be feeling a whole lot worse over Christmas.

Cech must love playing for Arsenal there is always so much for him to do.

Bellerin: the great excitement was not knowing how far Hector could go, there was a moment when in the heady days of his upward trajectory that people thought if he added goals to his game he could be one of the all time greats — never gonna happen. Hector is what he is, a perfectly ok right wing back.

Koscielny, pre Sanchez goal, all over the place, post Sanchez goal a commited determined CB

Nacho, defensive player of the year, was replaced by Mustafi who was back from extreme bought of embarrassment which he suffered during the man u game.

Maitland-Niles pre Sanchez goal post Sanchez goal the young Tory was a joy to watch all game long.

What happened to Wilshere? He was bog standard average at two down, then Sanchez scored and then he turned into a super hero.

Xhaka’s game was something akin to a Wild West performance if there were such a thing, talk about the good the bad and the ugly.

Iwobi was a bit sub standard, I found myself actually wanting Walcott to come on and replace him; I never thought I would ever prefer Walcott over anyone ever again. Theeeo, Theeeo, Theeeo.

Sanchez, went from needing to be throttled to wanting to be carried around the ground on everyone’s shoulders in the space of ten minutes, but he is one of a small few who can change a game in a moment and that I suppose is the reason that he is always picked.

Ozil, there is television Ozil and live Ozil, the former is slow and not committed the latter is a regular genius, we had both today in that order.

Lacazette, got to say he was the only one who looked like it mattered to him that we were getting played off the park; it really was set up for him to grab a winner and all three points but as we know that was not to be. Maybe next time?

Written by LB