By Chris Harris

Laurent Koscielny has praised Per Mertesacker's form this season - even though the Germany international has kept him out of the first-team picture.

The France centre back began the season with an injury and has found opportunities hard to come by since recovering his fitness. Koscielny scored Arsenal's equaliser at Manchester City but has only made two starts in the Premier League with Thomas Vermaelen and Mertesacker preferred in defence.

Koscielny's stock rose during his second season in English football and he believes Mertesacker is going through a similar transformation.

"I think everybody sees he is better this season," Koscielny told Arsenal Player. "The English league is very difficult, very strong and different players have a smaller time or a longer time to adapt to this football.

"I am happy for Per because he’s a nice guy, very important in the dressing room. He’s a joker so he’s good for the team. I’m happy because he’s played well this season and it’s good for the team.

"We have a good team with every position, we have very good players. Now I cross my fingers to not be injured, like last year. We have three or four centre backs who can play so it’s good for the team. The boss chooses the two centre backs who play.

"For me it’s important to have a good relationship with my team-mates and when I play with Thomas or Per or Johan, I give myself for the squad. If I’m on the bench, I motivate my team-mates to do well for the squad and winning the game."

Koscielny will be hoping for a recall when Arsenal host Queens Park Rangers at Emirates Stadium on Saturday. And he knows that this could be a productive weekend for Arsène Wenger's side.

"It’s a very important game because the other game is Chelsea v Manchester United. One team will lose some points so this game is very important," he said.

"We lost two games [in a row] - Norwich and Schalke, so this game is very important for the confidence of the team. We have the quality to come back stronger because we have some players who can [make] the difference. We must go [as] a unit on the pitch and [at] the end of the game, I just want to have the three points."

Watch the full interview with Laurent on Arsenal Player

Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source
26 Oct 2012