Following yet another Arsenal trouncing in Europe last night, both Arsene Wenger and Alexis Sanchez will undoubtedly be the most talked about individuals on a night where so many were at fault. Wenger, for his refusal to shut up shop even when down to ten men and Sanchez for being spotted laughing on the bench as his teammates crumbled.
While the problems in north London are deeply sewn into the fabric of the club right now, it’s easy to remember Arsenal were in the game (in terms of restoring pride after the nightmare in Bavaria) until captain Laurent Koscielny was sent off. In fact, the first leg wasn’t light years beyond the Gunners, who may have kept the scores at a respectable level heading back to England, until the Frenchman was taken off injured at the Allianz Arena.
With Koscielny, Arsenal 2-1 Bayern. Without him, Arsenal 0-9 Bayern.
— Richard Jolly (@RichJolly) March 7, 2017
His importance to the Arsenal cause cannot be understated. Plucked from relative obscurity back in 2010, the French international will surely go down as Wenger’s last great signing. Sure, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez made statements upon their arrivals, though it doesn’t take a genius to go out and sign them if the money is available.
Perhaps he’s not the Tony Adams-like leader fans and pundits alike are so desperate to see back at the club, but Koscielny is an organiser and a central defender of immense class in equal measure. Crucially, he also provides a palpable goal threat when attacking from set-pieces, having scored nine winning goals for the club over the course of his career there thus far.
In fact, he was linked with both Bayern and Real Madrid over the course of the last transfer window, further indicating his standing within the game, so is unlikely to have a shortage of potential suitors should Arsenal go through a major rebuild.
Missing out on the top four is a genuine possibility for the club right now, as those around them crank up the pressure. Should they fail to make the European elite this season, surely the vultures will circle over the Emirates. Though losing Alexis Sanchez may be more of a psychological blow for fans, the Chilean’s reported conduct of late at least gives the club an argument for letting him go.
As good a player as he may be, it’s not inconceivable they could replace him with one or two signings. Losing someone like Koscielny, however, would leave a gaping hole in defence, an area Arsenal have struggled to buy quality in over the last few years. As the Frenchman is the last great signing Wenger has made in that berth, who knows how long it would take to replace him?
Naturally, considering their last few games, there’s so much talk about who exactly will leave the club this summer. Arsenal, for their sake, need to ensure Laurent Koscielny stays.