Thursday, June 8, 2023

Great game – How good were Koscielny and Wilshire?

Graham Fisher in Editorial, UEFA Champions League 17 Feb 2011



Well it didn’t let anyone down did it? What a super game of football we saw at the Emirates last night. Two teams playing great football, attacking, and playing the game the way it is meant to be played. It doesn’t get much better than that.


The facts are that Barcelona took a first half lead through David Villa and Arsenal came back in the second half to win 2-1 through goals from Robin van Persie and Andrey Arshavin. Barcelona had a majority of the ball and missed a few chances but Arsenal were always dangerous on the break and had one or two periods where they put Barcelona under serious pressure.

The tie is beautifully poised going into the second leg at the Camp Nou and whilst Barcelona will remain favourites, Arsenal are far from being out of it. When the final whistle sounded I immediately started to look forward to the return match.


I want to look this morning at Arsenal and the performance of two of their players in particular. The whole team played well on the night but for me, centre-back Laurent Koscielny and midfielder Jack Wilshire, stood out above the rest.

The centre of Arsenal’s defence has been widely criticised and recognised as a weakness in their attempt to win the Premier League. Last night Koscielny was faced with Pedro, David Villa and Lionel Messi and hardly put a foot wrong.

In the midfield, nineteen year old Wilshire was against the World Cup winning midfield of Busquets, Xavi and Iniesta, and he came out of that battle with the honours very much even.


Twenty-five year old French centre-back Koscielny had his first international call up last week to continue his rapid rise in the game. He has had an unsteady start in the English game and had many people to convince that he is good enough, including me, but went a long way to doing so last night.

As a young player Koscielny was a right back. In 2007 he joined Tours FC in the French second division and decided he wanted to play in the middle of the defence. His performances for Tours over two seasons were such that French Ligue 1 side Lorient paid 1.7 million euros for his services in the Summer of 2009.


After just one season, thirty-five games, for Lorient, Arsene Wenger paid £8.45 million to take the Frenchman to the Emirates. This decision looked to be a poor one when Arsenal had an indifferent start to the season and Koscielny had been shown two red cards by early November. He looked to be out of his depth.

However, after suspension and a three week absence due to a head injury, Koscielny has returned to the side and is starting to look the part. He has played thirty games already this season and if he continues like he did last night, he will become a real favourite amongst the Gooners.


Wilshire is being touted as the future of English football and whilst not wishing to add to the hype that surrounds him, I think that might be a fair viewpoint. He did not look out of place amongst the very best midfielders in the world last night. He has a lot to learn and I’m sure he can get better, but that was one heck of a good performance.

The young midfielder has already picked up two England caps and if he continues to improve and stays relatively injury free, who knows how many that might become. He is hard working, tidy and he keeps the ball. That is something that the English midfield haven’t done for a few years. It is very early to start singing his praises as he has only played thirty-nine league games at Arsenal and at Bolton on loan last season, but I am really excited by what I saw tonight.

I can’t wait for the second game between these two.


Graham Fisher



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Chelsea FC Fan
Chelsea FC Fan
12 years ago

Well deserved result…but going back to Camp Nou will be an real test (obviously) for the Gunners…i’m rooting for all the English clubs to dominate this tournament tho, and obviously hoping for one to win, but feel free to kick ass Gunners! PS – i’m glad to see Wenger’s system is paying off…i envy the way his system develops players. CHELSEA SHOULD TAKE EXAMPLE and actually do more for their player development system…I hope Roman got his spending itch scratched and can FOCUS ON ACTUALLY DEVELOPING A TEAM rather than BUYING ONE and his pretty haired boy-toy Torres. I really… Read more »

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