Few can doubt the huge improvements in Laurent Koscielny's game this season. And that's just why Arsenal fans believed the Frenchman to be the team's fourth best player of the season.

While the centre back may have shown glimpses of his true capabilities last year, this time around it has been a different tale completely. Undoubtedly Arsenal's most improved player of the last 12 months, perhaps only the prolific Robin van Persie has been a more consistent performer.

Laurent's form at club level not only led to a first French cap against the USA in November but also earned him a place in Laurent Blanc's Euro 2012 squad.

Laurent remained an ever-present in a defence affected by injuries, forming strong ties with both Per Mertesacker and Thomas Vermaelen in either half of the campaign.

There were also opportunities to demonstrate his versatility as he featured at right back on two occasions in the Premier League during Arsenal's full-back crisis in December and January.

When called upon, Laurent was there - and more often than not produced the goods. He matched his goal tally for the 2010/11 campaign (three), scoring the crucial winner against West Bromwich Albion which sealed Arsenal's third-place finish and heading home early against AC Milan as Arsène Wenger's side came so close to clawing back a four-goal deficit.

The next step for Koscielny is to repeat his outstanding season and help shore up a defence which conceded 49 league goals. Few would bet against him doing just that after his sterling contributions this time around.

"In my first year at the club, I was a novice. To play against opponents as different as I had to made me improve. The diversity of the attacking players you face pushes you ahead. When I was in France, I liked to ‘stick’ to the forwards because I had the ability to go in front of them; it was easier for me, because those forwards were not as strong as they’re here, when you’re sometimes playing against huge guys who weigh 90 kilos and are still able to switch direction. I told myself ‘wait a bit, move back one or two yards’. That way, I can see whether his first touch will take him left or right, I can intercept, and initiate play from the back."

Competition Appearances Goals Assists
Premier League 33 2 1
Champions League 6 1 -
FA Cup 2 - 1
Carling Cup 1 - -
Total 42 3 2

In an admirable second season at Arsenal it is difficult to pick out one individual moment, but the defender's crucial winner at West Brom on the final day of the season must rank highly. That goal effectively secured the Gunners' place in next season's Champions League.

11/12: West Bromwich Albion 2-3 Arsenal - Laurent Koscielny

Laurent notches the decisive goal against West Brom

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29 May 2012