Since 2010 there have possibly been more lows than highs in N5 with of course the 2014 and 2015 FA Cup wins the 2 highlights. We have seen heroes leave and new heroes arrive and we have broken the club transfer record from pre 2010 now about 5 times. Most of our supporters seem to clamour for ‘superstar’ big money transfers and of late the club is beginning to listen. The demand for success, or to at least to be seen to be genuinely competing, now the debt from the stadium move is more manageable, is constant.
Buying ready-made World Class talent such as Ozil and Alexis is demanded as the norm and when Wenger strays from what is expected as the norm, it causes consternation and draws criticism. I understand this, of course I do but I do still love the idea of scouting for players and uncovering the diamonds in the rough. The idea that Wenger introduced the concept of ‘we don’t superstars, we make them’ is a tad insulting but the quote to describe the concept is apt. Before the Wenger disciples get angry I am not saying Wenger has not been brilliant and finding potential and moulding it because he has, wonderfully so. I just feel perhaps fans forget that George Graham found Dixon, Winterburn and Bould in England from lesser teams and combined them with one home grown giant of a player to produce the finest back four in our history.
It is however a Wenger and Grimandi gem that I want to talk about today. Most of the Wenger buys to which the ‘making superstars’ phrase is linked to are midfielders or attackers such as Henry, Anelka, Vieira or Petit but since 2010 one player fits the quote as much as any. Laurent Koscielny is a Wenger buy, was an unknown and for most Gooners is a now genuine Superstar. In modern football when the players are so detached from the fans reality many of us may not have a favourite player. We support the club and the team, unwilling to invest too much emotion in an individual who earns more in a week than we do in a year and might still leave for a better offer. But if you asked me today who is my favourite player and who most epitomises Arsenal for me the answer is Laurent Koscielny.
In six years as fans we have seen Koscielny grow from an obvious talent but with poor decision-making at times and concentration lapses built in, into one of the World’s most accomplished central defenders. His next game for Arsenal, I hope as captain, against Southampton, will I believe be is 250th for the club. Wenger in my opinion should at the very least confirm his as our permanent on the field skipper in his programme notes that day and acknowledge his compatriots contribution to the club as he reaches the milestone.
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I have had no doubts for many years that he should be one of the first names on the team sheet but until now if I was asked if he should be our captain or if he was a leader on the pitch I would have been hesitant. We don’t often like what the media say about our club but secretly we have all seen that we have had a shortage of leaders on the pitch at times. It is not always about being vocal, although it does help having talkers in the team. Kos alongside Mertesacker seemed to allow the German to do the talking and assume the leadership role and he was indeed the on pitch captain. Our club captain however is not on the pitch and with the arrival of Mustafi is clearly now 4th choice so even when fit is highly unlikely to start. This will be the making of Koscienly in my opinion but I think it had happened already.
The Frenchman was imperious for France in the Euros, now firmly first choice for Decshamps and it seemed that Koscielny grew in stature during the tournament. It was as if he now truly believes what Wenger, Deschamps and most of us have believed for some time, that he is genuinely World Class. Perhaps this realisation along with Per’s absence has flicked a switch in his mind because in the two matches he has played this season he has added the final 5% to his on field performance. Whatever Wenger does or does not announce Laurent Koscielny IS our leader now and another superstar made at Arsenal. I am proud he plays for my team; I am delighted that at 30 if he stays injury free, we have his best years ahead of him and I am confident that Mustafi and most particularly Rob Holding will grow as players alongside him.
Kos you are our Boss and we all look forward to you filling your pockets with opposition strikers for years to come.