Saturday, May 12, 2012

It was so grim we even doubted Wenger

LAURENT KOSCIELNY has sensationally admitted that Arsenal’s players doubted Arsene Wenger at the start of the season. 


The France ace gave a startling insight to the Gunners turmoil following the 8-2 loss at Manchester United after selling Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri late in the summer.
Boss Wenger and chief executive Ivan Gazidis came under fire for going into a panic-buying spree of five players in the last four days of the transfer window.
By mid-September Arsenal were still in 17th place but they have staged a remarkable turnaround and will finish third if they win at West Brom on Sunday.
Koscielny told today’s France Football: “The start of the season was catastrophic. We lost key players from our system. There was late recruitment of new players and the mayonnaise needed time to ‘take’.
“There was the thrashing at Old Trafford. The whole world buried us.
“But you don’t lose your football like that.
“It can happen that a small grain of sand jams the engine and after that you start to doubt your own qualities, the club, the coach and everything else. We needed to sort that out. Everyone got down to doing just that, the coach, the club.”
Koscielny admitted that the players were not giving their all and rallied after a series of tense team meetings.
He added: “The group was not giving enough for the club and we realised that.
“We got down to work and we said the things we needed to say. After that, one win, two wins, confidence returns and things follow on from that. The new players were immersed in the group and so on.”
He also credited 37-goal Robin van Persie — the double Footballer of the Year — for saving Arsenal’s season.
The centre-half added: “For sure we also had Robin van Persie. It is his season.
“I’m really happy for him. It’s the first time that injuries left him alone and we saw the difference.
“I try not to kick him a lot in training, I go soft with him. We try to be reasonable when you have such a long season.”
Koscielny singled out the North London derby with Tottenham as the key match of the season. The Gunners came back from 2-0 down to thrash their arch-rivals 5-2 and gain momentum in the race for a top-four finish.
He added: “I don’t want to have regrets.
“If we have a nightmarish start to the season it’s because we deserved it. Frankly I want to come out of this season having matured. The season I went through was tough but full of emotions. Tottenham at our place...
“We had pressure, we were five points behind Chelsea and everyone was saying ‘the Champions League is finished, Tottenham will win’.
“But we beat them 5-2 and we put together seven wins. Maybe we didn’t dominate all our matches but mentally we had something more.
“At Liverpool for example we always believed and Robin gave us the win at the end of the match.”
The one regret that still haunts Koscielny is the 4-0 humiliation at Milan which ended Arsenal’s Champions League campaign — despite a remarkable 3-0 win in the second leg.
Koscielny concluded: “The big regret is maybe the match at Milan that passed us by. A goal would have helped us.
“A club like Arsenal — its place is in the top four. The players realised that. Not a lot of people were with us in this comeback but we did it.”




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