Laurent Koscielny is 'at the top of the Premier League', says Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger

James Benge

Arsene Wenger believes Laurent Koscielny is “at the top of the Premier League” as he prepares to welcome the defender back to the Arsenal side.

Koscielny importance to Arsenal was made unquestionably apparent in last month’s Champions League defeat at Bayern Munich.

When the 31-year-old departed with a thigh injury 49 minutes into the first leg Arsenal were well placed to claim a crucial result, level at 1-1. Within a quarter of an hour they had conceded three on their way to a 5-1 defeat that all but ended their European campaign at the last 16 stage.

As Standard Sport revealed last week Koscielny is due back in the side for Saturday’s trip to Liverpool after missing the FA Cup fifth round win at Sutton and for Wenger it can’t come soon enough.

“Look, he is the guy who has the experience, who leads the defence and overall of course we have seen at Bayern that he is a very important piece of the puzzle at the back,” said Wenger. “Of course I’m happy to have him back.

“I think he’s at the top in the Premier League, yes. But I’ve always believed that. I think that there’s more to come from him as well because when he arrived here he was a bit shy.

“I think he has taken a different dimension. He always had the top quality but I think it comes more out of him and I still think there is more to come.”

Arsenal travel to Anfield just a point clear of their opponents in the battle for Champions League spots but with neither side in the best of form.

Liverpool have won just two of 12 matches in 2017 whilst Arsenal have not hit top gear in recent months, in particular on their travels to their top six rivals.

Wenger’s side have won only three of their last 23 games away to their fellow contenders but the Arsenal manager is convinced his side are capable of stopping their struggles away from the Emirates on Saturday.

“Our recent history has not been so positive in big games away from home, but I am convinced we have the quality and maybe we have to adapt the style a little bit as well,” Wenger added. “It’s important that we have a positive result in a big game like this.”

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