Wenger hails 'top class' Koscielny after late strike against Manchester City

The 27-year-old made his first start of the season afer Thomas Vermaelen was ruled out with illness, and scored the equaliser with eight minutes to go to earn his team a point

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger hailed Laurent Koscielny after the defender's late strike earned the Gunners a point away against Manchester City.

The 27-year-old deputised for Thomas Vermaelen after the captain was struck down by illness, and fired home an equaliser from inside the box after first-half goalscorer Joleon Lescott failed to clear a corner.

And Wenger labelled Koscielny as “top class” and admits the form of his three central defenders makes continual chopping and changing tough to sanction.

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"I have no worries for Koscielny, he is top class defender," he told Sky Sports.

"We have three top class central defenders and we will rotate them a little bit. It's very, very difficult to put any hierarchy in there but all of the three are top class."

The Arsenal boss says he was torn between frustration at wanting to win the match and relief at not losing it, being wary of the threat City hold on the counter-attack.

"We are on one side happy because we didn't lose the game after being 1-0 down,” he added.

"On the other side, [we are] a bit frustrated because we felt we had the chances early on and then late in the game, [and] that's when you want to take them. But overall you can see that we are a strong team."

Opposition manager Roberto Mancini talked up Arsenal as realistic title contenders ahead of Sunday’s game, and Wenger has admitted that his squad “believe” they are in with a chance and are aware of the tough task ahead.

"We believe it, but it's down to consistency,” Wenger admitted.

"What happened today should strengthen our belief, but we are not the perfect team yet, we have still room for improvement. If we keep the focus on that we have a chance."