By Nick Ames

Laurent Koscielny is delighted to be featuring regularly for Arsenal again after a tough start to the 2012/13 season.

The French defender, who enjoyed an excellent 2011/12 campaign, missed the beginning of this term through injury, and has been in and out of the side since his return.

A good performance against Schalke in midweek underlined his influence at the heart of the Gunners’ defence, though, and now he is hoping for much more.

“It’s been hard, of course,” Koscielny told the Official Matchday Programme.

“I lost most of pre-season because I was away with France, and then I had an injury right at the beginning of the season. It was difficult to come back from that quickly - the season had started, the players were up and running and you need time to get back to the required level.

“I know that I’ve played some good games and some not so good this season, but I’m working hard to stay fit and well. We have great competition for places at the back with guys like Per, Thomas and Johan, and we have a lot of respect for each other.

"It’s healthy for us, and we don’t stop trying to improve as individuals and as a unit.”

He pinpointed Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s 45th-minute goal as a crucial point in Tuesday night’s draw in Germany - but saw plenty of positives to take into Saturday’s game with Fulham.

“If we had come in at half-time with a 2-0 lead, I think the game is finished,” he said.

“To concede the goal just before half time was difficult for us - it gave them confidence and they came back strongly in the second half, playing well and putting us under pressure.

“I think that we defended well though, and kept our standards high. Now we are focused on the league for a week or two, with a big game against Fulham, but when the next Champions League game against Montpellier arrives we will be ready to go for the win."

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9 Nov 2012