Arsenal vs Atletico Madrid

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Arsenal had one massive defensive flub in the first leg against Atletico Madrid, but it’s indicative of bigger problems. So is this second leg Laurent Koscielny’s last chance?
Arsenal’s defensive issues have been talked about ad nauseum, not just this season, but tracking back into last last season, where they also had tied for the most goals surrendered of any team in the top seven.

It’s gotten progressively worse, as Arsene Wenger has experimented with back threes and back fours, but he always comes up empty thanks to a combination of individual errors and mental lapses that just never go away.

Now, however, the poster-child of individual errors is Laurent Koscielny against Antoine Griezmann in the first leg. I would love to call it an anomaly, but Koscielny has had these problems all throughout the year, and it’s becoming clearer that he may be past the point of being the anchor at the back.

As the season winds down, and the job security for these players disappears, I have to believe that they all understand the stakes. And those stakes go beyond any one competition. They are playing for their futures at this club, and at other clubs as well, assuming they move on.

Koscielny is one such player. He has not had a good year. Poor, in fact. And we are going to need him at his best against Atletico Madrid. It won’t take much to completely blow this game from an Arsenal standpoint, and the potential of it happening – in any game, for that matter – is always looming.

And it’s usually either carried out or avoided by the defense, and nothing else.

If we don’t get the best out of Koscielny, chances are we aren’t advancing. Because poking a hole in a four man back for a team like Atletico Madrid is enough to poach a goal or two and send the fans home happy.

Assuming that happens, I can’t imagine seeing much more of Koscielny in the future. Not just at Arsenal, but at any other top-tier team. He has been fantastic for the large majority of his career in North London, and injuries have hampered him, but there comes a point in time where you aren’t the player you used to be and Koscielny clearly isn’t.

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