Laurent Koscielny remained fairly tight-lipped over his encounter with Diego Costa during our loss against Chelsea earlier this season, but has opened up about the incident during an interview with L’Equipe (via Sky Sports).
The controversial match saw Gabriel Paulista sent off by referee Mike Dean, while Costa remained on the pitch after a string of red card worthy actions – which he was retrospectively banned for.
Koscielny claims his experience has helped him deal with players like Costa, and despite his aggravating tactics the Frenchman was able to stay calm.
“At the time, when he gives me a slap on the face, I don’t pay attention,” Koscielny said.
“We’re in a defensive situation and I continue to play. After he pushes me, I fall and get up because I’m not the type of player who drops down like that.
“Sure, I could have had a reaction but I managed to keep my nerves. He wants to blow a defender’s fuse but you have to stay calm. I received a lot of messages telling me: ‘Well done because I would have hit him’.
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“It’s five years that I’ve been at Arsenal, I have over 200 matches with my team, some very important. I played a World Cup and the Euros.
“All this experience helps my serenity and allows me to not be overwhelmed by the emotions of an encounter.”
Koscielny always looked a talented defender, but his game was littered with mistakes when he first arrived in England. He was regularly scoring own goals and getting sent off, and despite showing promise was a little bit of a liability.
He has come on leaps and bounds since then however, and has quickly elevated himself to the point where he is now one of the English top flight’s best defenders.
Experience obviously has a lot to do with that, and Gabriel Paulista – who shares a lot of similar traits to his veteran teammate – could learn a lot from him.
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Having to deal with thugs like Diego Costa is obviously difficult, but playing into his hands and getting a man sent off is never the answer. Koscielny’s maturity on the pitch is evident for all to see, and there’s a reason he’s one of the first names on the teamsheet each week.