I don’t know much about our new signing Koscielny. There aren’t many videos of him on the internet (perhaps it’s tough to make compilations for unknown defenders). I found only one so far
There aren’t many reliable stats either but I did come across a few interesting ones and they provide some food for thought. According to Opta stats Koscielny topped the French League with 328 clearances and 159 interceptions last season. Not sure what their definitions are for interceptions or clearances but being the best in the League, even if it’s not the toughest league in the world, can’t be all that bad.
This website reckons Koscielny was the best interceptor in the League with 121 interceptions and was fourth best in terms of headed clearances also at 121 (some co-incidence if both numbers are indeed accurate and identical).
There was another site where I read he had 651 clearances or something like that. Not able to find that again but it does seem a bit on the higher side and difficult to believe.
If these numbers are anywhere close to the truth and especially if Koscielny turns out to be an excellent header of the ball then we are sure to have an improvement on last season’s defensive performances.
All our Keepers struggled when they had to come out and claim or punch the ball on a regular basis. It’s easy to blame it on the Goalies but I’m convinced anyone who comes in will face similar problems unless the defence in front starts attacking these balls better.
Even at the World Cup we’ve seen top keepers struggle when they’ve had to come out. Schwarzer flapped and conceded, Neuer flapped and conceded, and the same goes for many others. Most of the defences that looked strong had defenders who consistently won the headers in the penalty area.
During the last season I’d often mentioned our inability to block or clear crosses and set-pieces. I’m really hoping Koscielny will add something to our aerial presence in the box. The compilation video that I’ve linked to doesn’t show that many headers from the penalty box but it does have a fair number of headers all over the field.
In case any of you are familiar with French football and Lorient in particular please share your observations about our latest recruit.
From what I’ve read he’s very good in one-on-one situations and is a very good reader of the game with good positional sense. It certainly corroborates his interceptions stats and I think he will be able to replace Gallas effectively.
What we do need is an improvement on Gallas, especially while dealing with aerial balls into the box and long punts down the middle. I’m not convinced by the argument of one defender dealing with all aerial balls and the other mopping up. In the modern game both have to be equally proficient because the opponents are quick to identify and target weaknesses in a team. They will start exploiting the inside right or left channels if one of the Center Backs is aerially weak. We’ve seen this time and again over the last few seasons now.
I don’t expect him to be in the Adams/Keown league in his first season but if he comes halfway between our defensive legends and someone like Gallas then we should have a much stronger defence. Considering these details I think Koscielny’s heading abilities are going to be crucial to our title challenges next year.
Can’t wait for the pre-season fixtures to get a first hand look.