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Sep 10, 2013

Koscielny plans to keep improving

Laurent Koscielny believes playing in the Premier League has improved his performances, but the Arsenal defender feels he needs to be more aggressive and will never be the finished article.

Laurent Koscielny has become a regular for club and country.
Laurent Koscielny has become a regular for club and country.

• Le Graet: France regressing

Since joining the Gunners in 2010, the former Lorient defender has featured in 90 English top-flight games, establishing himself for both club and country as a consequence of his displays. Koscielny should even celebrate his 28th birthday on Tuesday by picking up his 13th cap for France in the 2014 World Cup qualifier against Belarus.

Despite his elevated status, however, the unassuming centre-back told L'Equipe he will not be found resting on his laurels. 

"I feel that I'm better, better in quite a lot of areas. I have more confidence in challenges, I feel that I hurt opponents more. I need to be more aggressive, though, but in all areas: speed, controlling and passing, in aerial challenges, anticipation...In general, I've gained in physical presence. But you'll never hear me say I'm an undisputed first-choice for club or country."

Having displaced Thomas Vermaelen as Arsene Wenger's preferred partner for Per Mertesacker in central defence, Koscielny has not only provided the North London club with a solid platform but even contributed a rare goal to give his team victory at Newcastle United on the final day of last season and help earn Champions League qualification.

Goal-stopping, rather than scoring, remains his primary objective, however, and Koscielny believes the experience of playing at the top level in both domestic and European competition has been fundamental in the forward strides he has made.

"Repeatedly playing in big games allows you to acquire experience. I still make mistakes, a bad clearance, bad positioning, but rarely do I play badly for the full 90 minutes. It's just that after a mistake, you have to be able to start again with the simple things," he said.

"I've reduced the time I drift after a mistake. Before there was perhaps five or ten minutes where I wasn't 100% calm. Less now. But to get yourself back into things, you have to keep it simple: win the following challenge, make sure of your pass forward, your control."

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