Monday, 30 January 2012

Is Laurent Koscielny the best centre back in the Premier League?

I wanted to write an article about yesterday's game, especially as I wanted to use the title '2 steps back, 3 steps forward', but I've decided to revolve my latest blog piece around our fine French centre half, Laurent Koscielny.

This time last year, he was good. Good at best, he often looked like an accident waiting to happen to me, despite having the odd really good game, such as Barcelona at home when he was outstanding and the game last season where he most showed his true potential.

This season, he has turned from a decent centre half with potential into a top class, great centre half with the potential to still get even better. His performances this season have been fantastic, especially when you bare in mind how much the defence has been changed this season, in terms of fullbacks, a new centre half coming in, and the defence changing so much from game to game around him.

His tranformation and improvement this season have been nothing short of sensational and he is a candidate for the title of 'best centre back in the Premier League' at the moment. I don't necessarily think he is THE best about, but in terms of form, and in terms of performances this season, I think he's been the best in the league this season.

I still think Thomas Vermaelen is better than him, he's exceptional, but we haven't had the fortune of seeing him at centre half this season really. But these two playing together at centre half, with Szczesny in goal, could be a big catalyst in our future. Two top class centre halves and a really good goalkeeper with the potential to be top class very soon are brilliant assets for Arsenal to have. And when was the last time this was the case?

He has decent pace, strength, he's a great tackler, he's got good positional sense and he reads the game extremely well. That's probably his best asset actually, much like Vermaelen, his anticipation and reading of the game are, again, top class.

His improvement should be acknowledged more, and I think it would be if he was English, but apart from Jamie Redknapp, I don't think I've seen or heard anyone in the media or in punditry praise him this season, and say just how good he really is.

So, the answer to the title is 'no' in terms of generally, but 'yes' in terms of form and consistency this season. I don't think there is another centre half in the league that's been better than him this season. Plus, would you swap him for any other defender in the league? He can be the best in the league, and may well prove to be in the future.

It's time he was acknowledged. A top class defender, who will only get better. Bring on the Koscielny- Vermaelen partnership!

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