Sometimes it can be difficult to remain patient with a player bought from abroad into the Premier League. It’s easy to forget and seldom appreciated that foreigners, unfamiliar with the pace and physicality of our league, can struggle to settle in. Because of this, patients from management, teammates and most importantly, the fans, are a necessity.
When Laurent Koscielny arrived at Arsenal from Lorient in July 2010, he was, like a lot of Arsène Wenger signings, a largely unknown commodity. Not many in England would have been aware of the defender’s work in Ligue 1. Despite becoming a ‘fan favourite’ in North West France, his transfer to the Emirates was hardly met with a lot of enthusiasm from Arsenal fans, with some wanting an established, big money centre back signing.
His debut season had its ups and downs. Sent-off on his league debut against Liverpool, Koscielny initially struggled to adjust to life in England. He would go on to receive plaudits for some of his performances as the season progressed. However, this good work would be over shadowed by his mistake in the Carling Cup final, when he and goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny allowed Obafemi Martins to grab a last-minute winner as Birmingham City denied Arsenal the chance to win their first trophy since 2005.
It takes a great deal of mental strength to comeback from what happened on that day at Wembley. It was a moment that every professional player dreads. The only good Koscielny could take from the heartbreak of that day was to use that precise moment as a springboard; something he could reflect on and gain experience from. This is exactly what he has done.
This season has been full of nothing but personal highs for the Frenchman. He has received praise from his manager, teammates, and most notably in what has so far been a turbulent season for his club, the fans. Although Arsenal’s defence continues to be blamed for their shortcomings, Koscielny has continued to catch the eye with his pace, tackling and marauding runs forward.
The physical side to his game has improved hugely as well, with the defender winning more of the 50/50s he goes in for, making life difficult for any opposing forward.
Koscielny’s fine form for his club this season has also come to the attention of France coach Laurent Blanc, who gave him his first start for Les Bleus against the United States back in November, a match in which he once again drew acclaim.
The virtue of having patience with a foreign import into the Premier League is no more apparent than with Laurent Koscielny. His contribution this season has made him one of Arsène Wenger’s most trusted performers, and, as the manager recently told Arsenal.com, ‘That makes him, I personally believe, one of the top-class central defenders in the Premier League.’
Who would have thought that this time last year?