Laurent Koscielny’s had a tough year, but he’s enjoyed every second of it.
It has been 12 months since our club captain left the Wanda Metropolitano pitch on a stretcher, during our Europa League semi-final defeat to Atletico Madrid.
Koscielny spent the next seven months on the sidelines and when he returned, things had changed on and off the pitch at the club.
“My last 12 months at Arsenal have been amazing because I’ve had to start from the bottom and have had to work hard to get back to my level,” he told Arsenal Player. “I’m more positive in my life, in my football career. I will fight until the end for this club, like I’ve always done.
“It started when the boss left. I remember one day before training, we had a screen in the dressing room and it said we have a meeting just before training. Arsène Wenger said it in the most simple way, like he did all the time.
“He said, ‘It’s my last year and we have two more months together to finish well. After these two months, I’ll stop with Arsenal’. Everyone was shocked and there are no words that could come out. Everyone was focused and very excited to give something special to Arsenal and Arsène.
“It was important to have a goodbye for the coach, for him as well. When you stay 23 years at the same club, I think you have a lot of memories. After the game, when he spoke, I think he remembered all the good memories. I think he can be proud of what he did for our club.
“The first time I met Unai, it was at the training ground,” Koscielny added. “I was injured and needed some treatment, and he told me he would like to meet me.
“I think he has the character to help this club to come back to the top. He came here with his quality, trying to help us to improve every day, to learn about the different systems he wants to play in each game, how he wants us to press. We’ve progressed a lot. He came here with fresh ideas and we’re happy with it.
“First, tactically, I think he’s given us different solutions when we have the ball and when we need to defend, how he wants to build his game from the back. He wants to build the game with our quality, but when we lose the ball the first 10 seconds you need to win the ball back as soon as possible. Everyone needs to contribute and it’s important to show that we can learn more, and that physically we are better.
“I think he needs to continue. When you have your ideas, you have to believe in them. He’s worked well this season and we need to continue like this. We need time but I think this season we’ve shown some great character on the pitch and we’ve played some great things.
“We would like to improve away because our home is like a fortress. It’s very important for us to improve outside the Emirates. We need to have the same philosophy and same consistency in our game away from home.”