Stay fit or bench you sit: Koscielny situation shows no one is guaranteed spot

By Joshua Smith Pim!image/4291009863.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_630/4291009863.jpgLast season Laurent Koscielny was one of Arsenal’s standout players.

He elevated his game to such heights that he was without a doubt one of the most improved players in the EPL if not one of the top defenders. Koscielny was so impressive that the French national team called on his services for Euro 2012.

Unfortunately, Koscielny picked up a calf injury during the August pre-season match against Cologne and was not available for the first two games of the season. In his absence, Per Mertesacker and Thomas Vermaelen have formed a formidable partnership.

If the team continues to produce consistent results (Arsenal currently has the best defensive record and the largest goal difference) it’s difficult to see how Koscielny will be able to garner any playing time in the league matches.

It’s a shame but a consequence I feared when they gave the captain’s armband to Vermaelen. I have always been a fan of Mertesacker and his style of defending and always knew that, once he settled in, he would provide balance to whomever he partnered. Vermaelen and Koscielny posses similar playing styles with their pace and desire to push forward – knowing someone like Per is behind them to provide support allows them to operate with more freedom. Dropping your captain to the bench is unheard of so where does that leave Laurent?

Wojciech Szczesny is dangerously close to finding himself seated beside the Frenchman on the bench. A similar string of minor injuries has seen Vito Mannone put in some very impressive shifts in goal. He has yet to let in a goal from open play. It was questionable whether Szczesny should have played against Southampton at all after Mannone had filled the gap so admirably and more questions arose after Szczesny’s error ended our perfect defensive record. Mannone has come back from his spell on loan with Hull City brimming with confidence and, now that he has gotten a taste of true first team action, he looks hungry and ready to make a bid for first choice goalkeeper.

Another player whose playing time is in doubt is Andre Santos. Andre quickly became a cult hero of mine. He has fantastic control with the ball and his bombing runs forward always make me feel like something is about to happen. Not to mention he’s a much better defender than people give him credit (and at 130mph he has easily overtaken Theo Walcott as the fastest man on the team).

All kidding aside, I’m hoping for leniency in his case. However, even if the hands of justice are gentle, he has another hurdle which could prove just as difficult. Kieran Gibbs has firmly established himself as our first choice left-back. His defensive positioning has greatly improved and the interplay he has had this season with Podolski along with his searing crosses is looking to be a deadly threat to the opposition.

Then we have the rest of the bench warmers. Barring another injury crisis, it looks like Johan Djourou can only look forward to domestic cup action. I’m not sure if Sebastien Squillaci is even in London. And poor Ignasi Miquel, of whom I’m a big fan, would have liked to have had more involvement with the first team but it looks like he’s going to have to go out on loan if he’s to see any top-flight action.

I’ve saved my most controversial opinion for last. I’ve tired of dissenting voices from our squad and I don’t think it’s a stretch to believe that Le Boss feels the same. Bacary Sagna ruffled Wenger’s feathers last week when he made comments regarding his frustration with Arsenal selling their top players. I have no problem with his being frustrated but if an employee has an issue they should take it up with management and not the media. He has yet to play a minute of football this season due to the broken fibula he suffered back in May. I believe he may be surprised when he returns to full fitness that his starting will not be automatic.

Carl Jenkinson has come from obscurity last year to performing admirably this season at right-back. He looks taller, fitter and very comfortable with the ball at his feet. This is another case of the manager not wanting to make a change if things are working and, right now, things are working. It’s my belief that Sagna may be rounding out last year’s roster of starting defenders who are now watching from the stands.

So have Arsenal improved their defensive play this year? If they continue to play as they have, I think you won’t have to look any further than our bench for the answer.

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33 thoughts on “Stay fit or bench you sit: Koscielny situation shows no one is guaranteed spot

  1. lol the Squillaci comment is classic!!! I do believe that Kos has to bide his time as if it isn’t broke don’t fix it. However, as much as I feel that Jenkinson is doing a reliable job, if Sagna is fit and ready to play he should come into the team. He is for me not only the best RB in the Premier League but one of the best in Europe also.

    1. Sagna is a great player, yes. But as long as jenkinson keeps performing reliably, and does not make any mistakes, there’s no real need to bench him. Benching a player who’s playing well will only kill his confidence.
      On a side note, the only player we don’t have a replacement for is arteta. Someone like cabaye/ similar player would be ideal in january. We do have a free squad place, vacated by the departure of park

      1. Personally I see Wilshere as Arteta’s replacement/cover, this is the position that suit Wilshere best. And maybe Diaby’s position second best, all the talk of him playing in Cazorla’s position is just funny to me who’s actually seen him play in that position???

      2. Agree with you absolutely. I don’t think Coq or Frimpong are up to the mark just yet. I want to believe that if we are able to ship out some of the deadwood in Squil, Arshavin and Chamahk, one or two quality additions should be brought in.

  2. What you stated is obviously true but you Arsenal fans in English should speak to Arsenal management not to sell their top prayers again.they should pay good prayer huge money.a case of Theo now

    1. Why should Walcott be paid big money? His football doesnt deserve it! Simple. Arsene made a mistake not to sell him in the summer. We rather buy someone new…Maybe Remy Cabella from Montepellier as a replacement for the aging Rosicky and departing Theo. He’s top top skillful player. Comfortable & dangerous on his left or right foot as we saw yesterday. And he wont be paid that much as Walcott demands

    2. I don’t understand why it is difficult for people to understand the circumstances under which players leave Arsenal, people always sound as if Arsenal always want to sell these players, these players all left Arsenal with the exception of Fabregas because of MONEY. Everyone expect Arsenal to pay them the money they ask for in order to keep them, first of all “Are they worth they wages they ask for, we all know that a player’s output on the pitch is not a function of how much he earns, “what is the consequencies of over paying one or few players in a team” e.g paying Walcot 100,000 pounds a week while Cazola, podoski, Vamalen, Koscelny all earn around or less than 80,000 pounds a week, or paying RVP 200,000 pounds a week or Adebayo and Nasri around 150,000 pounds a week. In reality, Arsenal can’t match these wages for now, the question we need to ask is ” will Arsenal win the title if RVP and Song had stayed this season?” ” Will Arsenal win the title if we pay players the wages they demand? ” Will Arsenal win the title if we buy more players even if we are not lacking in any position but just because other clubs are buying?” The answer is”there is no guaranty”, even if the players that have left had stayed, or even if we had being paying players wages they demanded. The title use to be between United and Arsenal, then came Chelsea, then City, and now spurs are even contenders, Liverpool cannot be written off. What am saying is that, the League is more competitive now and any of these teams could have won the title in the last six years and any of them can still win it. Arsenal has been very consistence at the top flight and has never lacked quality during these trophy drought period, so I think we will win trophy when our time comes and I feel the club is heading in the right direction…

      1. Wenger is running d club in a perfect way, if u complain dat he sales gud players, hw many of dem do u know befor d come to THE GREAT ARSENAL? Nd after d must ve gone do de ever player better Dan d do @ ARSENAL? IN ARSEN I TRUST

  3. Koscielny should play every game when fit. Whilst I rate Vermaelen and Mertesacker (in particular) he is far superior to both of them.

  4. Koscielny is very capable of playing at RB as well as CB so if Wenger doesn’t want to rush Sagna back and give Jenkinson a rest he is there to play!! With the Champions league, League Cup and Premier League going now he will be involved!! Koscielny is too good not to be left out for too long.

    1. No he isn’t very capable of playing at RB.
      Playing centre backs as RB or LB’s last year cost us, I’d sooner have Coquelin or Yennaris play as LB or RB than Kos

  5. I think the team have more balance and the boss could look to win match from the bench now,i can see that nobody want to loose its chance so i think we are not far from winning a trophy

  6. best bench we have seen in a while and am enjoying every game. there is so many games coming and am sure there will be team rotation and it is important to keep the players fresh because this will be a long season as we will be contending for many titles

  7. Glad to see that we are getting a squad together now with good players.even our subs bench looks good now .all the big club players fight for there places ,so why not us. Great win boys

    1. re: Mannone – he still looks nervous and shakey to me. i think we made an error in not signing an experienced keeper this summer. all of our gk’s are young and inexperienced with it all to prove, as Chesney is now finding out. Chesney is probably the best out of fabianski and mannone but he needs to cut out the unforced errors in his game which became more prominent as last season wore on. the idea of mannone being our no.1 fills is not an inspiring one. he is competent but not top notch and we are deluding ourselves if we say that he is.

    1. Who is Dan Jenkinson? And yes, Sagna is a much more experienced and more complete full back than Carl Jenkinson.

  8. Sagna will walk back into the team, although agreed, Jenks has really grown in stature over the past few months. His crossing as always been great (is better than (Sagna’s), but lets be honest, Bacary is superb when fit. I’m not concerned in the slightest regarding the starting four in defense, as we know how busy the season will get. Rotation is a must have if you wish to challenge on multiple fronts, and it’s extremely refreshing that we’ll be able to rotate without a drop in quality. I’m laughing at the reports that we’re looking to sign Yanga-Mbiwa… if Kos is on the bench where is he going to go? I am slightly worried about the games we don’t play Santi and Mikel, but to be honest I feel much better about the squad this year than I have in ages. We have three players we signed last year who have come good (Gervinho, Mert, and Santos), and two, maybe three players this year that have slotted in seamlessly. Either way, even with RVP and Song gone our team is stronger, and much more committed to each other. Besides Sagna and Theo no one seems miffed in the team, and next year we can get Arshavin, Squillaci, and I think a few others off the books. We still have all the cash as we made money on transfers this year, so as long as we don’t lose anyone I’d say we’re maybe two solid players away from a top top squad.

  9. What a wonderful problem to have…..last season’s best CB sitting on the sidelines because the current pairing is doing so well! I also love that Walcott is sitting on his ass waiting to break intoi the striker’s club because they are doing so well!
    There is more to come as Wilshere, one of England’s best midfielders and Rosicky, a revelation last season, are returning, thus giving Wenger more selection headaches.

    I can’t remember when was the last time AFC had such strength on and off the field?

  10. Wenger’s warning to Sagna was timely. Do not slate the club in public, like rvp. Support fromits employees are of utmost importance. I will not be the least surprised that he is sold in the summer. He is good, but not bigger than the club.

  11. Pls Boss wenger, do’nt keep our number 6 defender on the bech for such long, he is a fantastic player, sitting on the bech its a discouragement, sometime they can play centre defence with Meteska, Vemalen on left back and Jackson on light, thats ever unbreakerble parternship.

  12. I’ve got to agree, I really enjoyed the way Wenger warned Bacary through the press, saying how if you don’t support the club fully in public at the least I wont keep you. Its ruthless, and I like it, it seems as if he has finally realised that he theres no need to keep players that don’t want to be there, as this season is hsowing us, quite frankly most ( bar Cesc) can be replaced

  13. I thought this article was really good and insightful until you stated that Jenkinson is ” very comfortable with the ball at his feet” then I took it as a joke.

    The amount of passes he puts people into trouble with and for the love of god in what world where a professional footballer cannot even think let alone use his left foot allows him to be “comfortable” with the ball at his feet.

  14. Think the biggest problem we have is our goalkeepers, Sczes keeps getting injured & our other keepers are just not near good enough to be PL players. I thought Mannone had decent game against Montpellier but games before that he was very iffy

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