Hard work key to Koscielny improvement

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After enduring a difficult debut season in English football, Laurent Koscielny has gone on to establish himself as a mainstay in the heart of the Arsenal defence.

The French defender, who signed from Lorient in the summer of 2011, took time to settle in north London, but he has just completed a hugely successful season from a personal point of view, with his contribution to Arsenal's campaign not going unnoticed by the club's fans.

The 26-year-old was voted fourth in the club's official Player of the Season poll, and the man who has been one of Arsene Wenger's most consistent performers this year, credits his improvement on the pitch to the hard work put in behind the scenes off it.

Speaking to Arsenal Player, Koscielny said: "I was in the gym more, that is the first reason [I have been stronger]! I feel better than last year. I know the league, my team and the Club.

"I think I am better on and off the pitch so for a player, when you feel good with your team-mates, the Club and his family, it is better. I feel very good to help my team and to qualify for the Champions League. I just wanted that for the end of this season.

"I know this league more than last year. In all my body I am better, not just physically, psychologically as well. It's great for me, I work hard in training to be strong and the results have been in my game. I try to be strong and be the best defender I can in my team."

On one of the most dramatic final days in Premier League history, Koscielny played his part as Arsenal beat West Brom at the Hawthorns, scoring the winning goal in a 3-2 success for Arsene Wenger's side.

That win ensured the Gunners would be playing Champions League football at the Emirates next season, and that victory felt even sweeter given that it secured Arsenal's spot as the top club in north London, with Tottenham having to settle for a fourth place finish.

However, rather than focussing on personal achievements, Koscielny reflects on a successful season for the team as a whole, as he underlines the defining moment of Arsenal's campaign as one that was a collective triumph.

"I have a lot of best moments but maybe against Tottenham [was the best] because we were losing 2-0 after 25 minutes and came back to win," he said.

"It was the derby so the atmosphere was amazing. The fans were amazing and it was a very good game for every player and everybody who watched this game."

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Laurent Koscielny
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