By Joe Brewin
Laurent Koscielny admits the variety of strikers in the Premier League means he has to be at the top of his game every week.
The defender has enjoyed an excellent second season at Arsenal after joining from Ligue 1 outfit Lorient in summer 2009, earning a call-up for France’s provisional Euro 2012 squad.
Koscielny found it tougher during his debut campaign but believes he has acclimatised well to the demands of English football.
“England, in the past, it was ‘hoof it’ - but that is over,” the defender told France Football. “You have every kind of striker; a Didier Drogba, who is so strong with his back to goal, Peter Crouch who is two metres tall, Sergio Agüero who is one metre 50 but so fast.
“It is not the worse for that - you taste everything and you improve more quickly. You encounter a different problem every week. One week it will be header after header because you are playing a team like Stoke who like to play long balls. The next, your job will be to pass the ball out of defence.
“The diversity of the attacking players you face pushes you ahead. In my first year at the Club I was a novice. To play against opponents as different as I had to made me improve.”
Koscielny has previously cited improvements in his physical stature behind his progression this season - but it is also in his brain where the 26-year-old has learned to stay one step ahead.
“When I was in France I liked to ‘stick’ to the forwards because I had the ability to go in front of them,” he said. “It was easier for me because those forwards were not as strong as they are 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, if I can intercept and initiate play from the back.
“We worked on my positioning because of the physical impact of English forwards. But even if I’m someone who likes the beautiful game, I also enjoy the physical side of it. ‘Go to war?’ - no worries."