Laurent Koscielny is a doubt for Arsenal’s opening Champions League game at Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday night. During the climax to Saturday’s last-gasp 2-1 win over Southampton, he took a kick in the face in a melee at a corner. Two studs caught him either side of an eye, so the damage could have been much more serious. The defender had significant swelling around the eye when examined after the match by the club doctor. “It is a little concern,” Arsène Wenger said. “It’s already very swollen.”
Koscielny was outstanding, organising defensively with a new partner, the debutant Shkodran Mustafi, alongside him, and also scoring the equaliser with a brilliant bicycle kick. If he does not recover in time for the Parc des Princes, Wenger would be left with a central defensive partnership of players who are new to the club and each other in Mustafi and the youngster Rob Holding.
Wenger was full of praise for Koscielny, who is captain while Per Mertesacker is recovering from a long-term injury. “He is one of the most experienced players we have now here,” the manager said.
“He is one of the longest-serving defenders and I think he is one of our best players. When I think about the squad, when you choose a captain as well, you think of one with a good chance to play in every single game and that’s not easy nowadays. He has committed to the club for a long contract and he has always improved every year. Today he is an outstanding centre-back.”
His spectacular goal meant more to Wenger not in its execution but in its timing. Koscielny has a habit of scoring in pressure situations. “He doesn’t score that when it is 4-0 for you, he scores at 1-0 down and that’s always a special quality. It was his birthday and he gave himself a great present.”
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