When thinking about who have been the best players for Arsenal this season, there are quite a few candidates, but over the last two months there can be only one winner, Laurent Koscielny. The French international saved the Gunners at both ends again yesterday and without him we would not even have been in the position going in to the game. As the interviewer said after the game, his goal was worth around £30 million to the club.
Earlier in the season, Koscielny was clearly the third choice centre back behind Per Mertesacker and Thomas Vermaelen. He also made a few costly errors, most notably when he gave a penalty away and was sent off against Manchester City. The thing about Kos, though, is he is a fighter. He has worked his way up to Arsenal through the lower tiers of French football and he simply refuses to lie down.
So, when his chance came after Vermaelen lost form, Koscielny stepped up. His performance yesterday was typical of his recent form. While nerves were clearly running high, and his German defensive partner was having a bit of a nightmare, Koscielny kept his head and gave Newcastle hardly a sniff. He topped it off with a goal that any of the strikers would be proud of and was rightly named Man of the Match. Some of his recent blocks, tackles and interceptions have been truly amazing.
Maybe Vermaelen will come back in the same way for next season, while there is likely to be a new defender at the club. It is good to know that Koscielny will always be fighting for his place and will ready to deliver when we need him.