Laurent Koscielny has revealed how he has developed into one of the Premier League’s finest defenders during his time at Arsenal.
The France international has made more than 200 appearances for the club and has helped the Gunners lift back-to-back FA Cups since joining from Lorient in 2010.
Koscielny had a difficult start to life in north London when he was sent off on his debut against Liverpool, but the 29-year-old says he has made great strides since then.
"My biggest development has been in aerial duels. For a centre back that is very important when you are playing against a lot of long balls"
“I’ve improved my technique, my physical strength, my position on the pitch and my duels with the striker,” he told the official matchday programme. “I feel I've improved every year, each season I'm better, so I hope it will continue like this each year.
“My biggest development has been in aerial duels. For a centre back that is very important when you are playing against a lot of long balls. We need to win these duels, find our feet to win the ball back and play, so maybe this is my most important quality. But everything is important.
“Psychologically you have to be prepared as there is a lot of pressure every game because we always want to win. All the games are important so you need to be ready in your body and in your head - so the two parts are important.”
Koscielny’s next big test is against Liverpool on Monday, and the defender knows he will have to be at his very best against Christian Benteke.
“We had a good game against Aston Villa in the FA Cup final but the other games against Benteke will be harder,” he said. “I know him and every game is hard against him. He's a big professional who gives his all for the team and to score.
“He loves the duels and he loves the goal so it will be harder this time. Just because we won by three or four against a team last season doesn't mean you will again. We can do it again, but each game you need to improve yourself so you are ready to win.”
Read more from Laurent in the matchday programme.
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