Arsenal receive significant injury boost ahead of opening game - How important is Koscielny?

Laurent Koscielny

Arsenal expect to have Laurent Koscielny available for their opening Premier League game of the season.

Arsenal have been handed a significant piece of good news ahead of the weekend encounter with Crystal Palace, with Laurent Koscielny passed fit.

Koscielny played only 45 minutes of the Community Shield win over Manchester City, suffering a small knock on his Achilles, but Arsene Wenger told in his Thursday press conference that he is positive the Frenchman will feature.

The Frenchman is into his fifth season at Arsenal, and after a mixed opening campaign, has emerged as one of the league's best, and often most unappreciated, centre-backs.

Last season he was the Gunners key man at the back, shining in his partnership with Per Mertesacker. Here is a statistical overview of how important he is to the side:

  TeamPosInterception Won / appsWon Tackle / appsEffective Clearance / appsShots Blocked / appsApps
Laurent Koscielny Arsenal DF 2.78 1.28 7.31 0.72 32
Per Mertesacker Arsenal DF 1.69 0.83 7.06 0.49 35
Thomas Vermaelen Arsenal DF 1.36 0.71 5.57 0.14 14

Koscielny outperformed his two teammates Mertesacker and Vermaelen on a per-game basis in four key categories, interceptions won, tackles won, effective clearances and blocked shots.

Considering Vermaelen's sale to Barcelona, and the fact Mertesacker only returned to the club this week from international break and may be unfit, Kosicelny being available is of added importance.

Arsenal's alternate options include the impressive Calum Chambers, who did so well in the Community Shield, and Spaniard Nacho Monreal, who Arsene Wenger has been grooming in pre-season to play in central defence.

It also underlines how the club need to sign another centre-back, with Greek defender Kostas Manolas linked this week.

If Koscielny were ruled unfit, then Arsenal fans may have a little reason to worry this weekend, but the Frenchman's presence should ensure the Gunners possess a strong chance of keeping a clean sheet against the Eagles.

How does Koscielny compare to great Arsenal defenders of the past?

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