It was no coincidence that as soon as Laurent Koscielny was subbed off at the start of the second half against Bayern Munich, everything fell to pieces.
The centreback is one of our most consistent, solid players, and when Arsenal lose him, the other defenders look lost. His performance score on Squawka is 848 while Mustafi’s is 412 and Gabriel’s is 197. He’s simply miles ahead of all our other centrebacks.
Apart from Alexis Sanchez, who scored Arsenal’s only goal, Kos was the highest rated Gunner on Who Scored (6.9) despite only playing one half and only having 19 touches of the ball.
With the France international on the pitch, Arsenal appeared to be holding their own. However, as soon as he was taken off and Gabriel subbed on in his place, everything went to pot.
Although no one made any attempt to block Arjen Robben’s 11th-minute screamer, there wasn’t a whole lot anyone – even Kos – could have done to prevent it. Then, at the other end, it was Kos who won the penalty after getting kicked. So far, so good. Sort of.
However, when Kos was taken off after feeling a pain in his right thigh, Robert Lewandowski and Thiago Alcantara both scored within six minutes, putting Bayern 3-1 ahead and the tie out of sight.
Although Shkodran Mustafi should have used his strength against Lewandowski for his header, Gabriel’s movement for Thiago’s goal was non-existent. The Brazilian just allowed Lewandowski to turn and backheel the ball to his teammate, watching on gormlessly as Bayern scored their third.
I’ve no doubt that while Kos may not have prevented another goal itself, he would have at least made an attempt to dispossess Lewandowski before he could even pass to Thiago. Not just because he’s a boss but because he’d made a huge tackle on Lewandowski in the first half to prevent Bayern going 2-0 up soon after Robben had scored their first. This was just one of three tackles he made during the first half.
What’s clear is that Arsenal really struggle to cope without Koscielny on the pitch, which is concerning for two reasons: 1 – he’s injured, and 2 – we shouldn’t completely fall apart without just one player in the side.