|MAN OF THE MATCH
Arsenal 1-0 Tottenham
This was the match billed as the £100 million against £0, as big spending Tottenham Hotspur visited Arsenal. It was labelled as the match in which Spurs would come of age and announce that they are the new kings of North London. But the derby result showed just why Arsene Wenger has managed to keep his charges above their neighbours as his players repaid the faith he had in them.
None more so than Laurent Koscielny, who is continuing to belied belief that he was still playing in the French Ligue 2, just four seasons ago at the age of 24. The French centre-back, armed with a bandage over his right eye, produced a dominating display in defence to not only help Arsenal win but also helped keep a clean sheet.
Koscielny adds Roberto Soldado to his already impressive list of strikers that he has managed to shut out in recent seasons for Arsenal Football Club. A list that includes the likes of Lionel Messi, Mario Mandzukic and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Returning to the starting line-up after the completion of his domestic ban because of a red card in the opening day match against Aston Villa, Koscielny dominated the statistics side of the match. At 95 per cent passing accuracy, he was the highest among the Arsenal players that played yesterday. This included three long-range passes which accurately found their intended targets. An attribute which even helped Arsenal to launch quick counter attacks.
He also won three tackles, four successful interceptions and seven effective clearances in the same match. His desire and tenacity to win the ball, helped repel several Spurs' attacks. His effectiveness at the back, meant Spurs were restricted to taking shots from outside of the penalty box, which Wojciech Szczesny had little trouble to deal with.
Koscielny has struck up a good partnership with Per Mertesacker, as well as with the left sided defender, who more often than not is Kieran Gibbs. For any defence to work, a good level of comfortability playing alongside each other is an aspect not to be taken lightly. The understanding in knowing when to drop off and when to provide cover can only be improved by continuously playing together.
So for yet another North London Derby, the red half has come out on top. North London remains red in colour and Koscielny’s display was the bedrock of that achievement.