By Rob Kelly
Laurent Koscielny says he will emerge from this season as a much more mature footballer.
The France international has been one of Arsenal's most consistent performers in an up-and-down campaign that at one stage saw the Club as low as 17th in the table.
Arsène Wenger's side can now secure third place with a victory at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday, and Koscielny says the nature of the campaign has forged a sense of unity among the players.
"If we had a nightmarish start to the season, it is because we deserved to have it. But, frankly, I’ll come out of this season a more mature footballer," he told France Football.
"Everybody thought us dead and buried, but we stuck together, the players, the Club, the staff, we fought together. The season I’ve gone through has been tough, but full of emotion.
"Tottenham at home... there was pressure on us, we were five points behind Chelsea, everybody was saying, ‘Champions League? It’s over, Tottenham will win’... and we put five goals past them, and went on a seven-game winning run.
"We might not have dominated every single game, but, mentally, we had something extra. At Liverpool, for example, we always believed, and Robin gave us victory at the very end."
Koscielny is confident Arsenal can compete for the title next season, but insists he is fully focused on beating West Brom first.
"I’m not thinking about that yet," he said. "The most important thing is to get that third place.
"Then - if we keep our key players, if we bring in players who can bring something extra, if we make a good start in the league, then, yes, we’ll be contenders for the title."11 May 2012