With Per Mertesacker set to return to the Arsenal side on Tuesday night, Laurent Koscielny has been highly complimentary of his defensive partner.
The two have been Arsenal’s first choice pairing at the back since March 2013 and haven’t looked back. Nearly three years on both have been coming in for some criticism, but there’s still very few pairings in world football who share such a good understanding of each other.
Saturday’s win over Burnley saw a slightly shaky performance between Koscielny and Gabriel at the back, so hopefully the game against Southampton will be a calmer affair.
“He’s a nice man, a good friend, so when there is a good relationship off the pitch, it can help us on it,” Koscielny said to Arsenal Weekly about the German defender. “We have a good relationship together off the pitch. He’s a simple man like me, he likes to live here and it’s important to have conversations with him over lunch or dinner.
“We talk a lot and we’ve learnt a lot together over the last few years. I know his qualities and he knows mine, so I know what he can and can’t do on the pitch. That’s important for centre backs.”
As a defender, Koscielny is fantastic. He hold no prisoners with his enthusiastic style, always determined to win the ball back at the first opportunity. Mertesacker is different, a calm defender who covers all his angles superbly, cutting off the options for opposition forwards.
The two styles dovetail excellently, with Mertesacker’s calmness and Koscielny’s zealousness striking a fine balance.
“We know it’s more about playing together than individually,” Koscielny added.
“Each player is very important at centre back and it’s very important that they communicate for their positioning on the pitch. We can definitely help each other improve.”
Fingers crossed, after a few below par performances over the last few weeks, we will see that improvement against the Saints.