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Arsenal legend hails Gunners defensive duo as ‘the perfect blend’

Arsenal's Per Mertesacker (left) celebrates with team-mates Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny (right) Arsenal's Per Mertesacker (left) celebrates with team-mates Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny (right)

Jem Maidment
Thursday, January 16, 2014
12:40 PM

Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny have been labelled “the perfect blend” after stretching their undefeated run as a defensive pairing to almost two years.

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Following Monday’s 2-1 win at Aston Villa, Arsenal have not lost a single league game that has featured Mertesacker and Koscielny in tandem for the entire 90 minutes since January 2012.

In fact, Christian Benteke’s consolation goal was only the second time the Gunners have conceded in their last six games – and Arsenal legend Bob Wilson has hailed the Mertesacker-Koscielny partnership as a major factor in their overall improvement at the back this season.

“The defence as a unit has definitely got better,” said the former Gunners goalkeeper. “That is because they have played together for a while now.

“Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker are the perfect blend. Per was getting criticised when he first came to the club, but I have always defended him.

“The stats don’t lie and he regularly wins more headers than any other centre- half in the league.

“In addition, Kieron Gibbs is magnificent and is unlucky that Leighton Baines is in front of him for England. Kieron is now better than the other left-back who used to play for us (Ashley Cole).

“Bacary Sagna has been absolutely terrific too, and we also have Carl Jenkinson coming through. Carl clearly loves playing for Arsenal and is blossoming – his devastating crosses are a big weapon and he has great pace too.

“I think [assistant manager] Steve Bould has had more than an influence on the defence. I don’t know that for sure – I am not at the training ground to watch his sessions – but I just smell it.”

The strength of the partnership between Mertesacker and Koscielny is such that Gunners club captain Thomas Vermaelen has been unable to force his way back into the side since returning from injury.

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