Arsenal vice captain Thomas Vermaelen has revealed that the emergence of defensive partner Laurent Koscielny this season is not much of a surprise to him as he knew the Frenchman’s potential was much higher than detractors could have imagined.
Koscielny secured a move to the Emirates Stadium in the summer of 2010 and was criticized for lacking the strength needed to survive the tenacity of the Premier League at the end of his first season.
This year, he has improved consistently and now that the 26-year old is a cornerstone of Arsenal’s defense, Vermaelen has asserted that no one within the club doubted the former Lorient player’s ability to thrive in the English top flight.
“In the last couple of months, we have played together a lot of times and I am pleased with that. He is a great player. I think we know each other’s qualities so at the moment it is going well,” Vermaelen told the Gunners’ official website.
The Belgian added: “He is [good] all round. He is quick, strong and good with the ball. I think we are quite similar players as well. There are just a lot of things about defending that he is really good at and that is why I like him.”
Koscielny’s absence has been felt particularly during setbacks such as Arsenal’s 2-1 loss to Wigan a week ago but Vermaelen has emphasized that the defender has always been an important part of the club’s squad.
“He has done amazing this season and I don’t understand why a lot of criticism was there in the first season. The first week I saw him you could tell he was a great player and now it is all coming out in his second season. I am really happy for him,” the Verminator concluded.
While Vermaelen praised Koscielny, manager Arsene Wenger took a moment to praise the resilience of midfielder Tomas Rosicky, who played through illness for 65 minutes of the goalless draw against Chelsea on Saturday.
“In fairness, Rosicky was not supposed to play. He woke up sick and we forced him basically to play, and he wanted to play, and he’s still lying on the medical bench now [20 minutes after the game],” Wenger stated about the Czech playmaker’s willingness to cover for the already injured Mikel Arteta.
The boss added: “I am very grateful because he was sick and still he played and he gave absolutely everything. But at one stage he told us ‘look, I cannot run anymore’.”
On a positive note, when asked if the recently returned Abou Diaby will now have to compensate for the absence of both Arteta and Rosicky for the final three games of the season, Wenger clarified that the latter can play as soon as he overcomes his illness.