Koscielny the 'perfect captain' for Arsenal, says Leno

The defender missed France’s World Cup victory with an Achilles injury but made his return to the matchday squad against Huddersfield on Saturday

Laurent Koscielny is the perfect captain, according to team-mate Bernd Leno, despite not appearing for Arsenal since May.

The France international made his return to the Gunners squad for their 1-0 victory over Huddersfield on Saturday after suffering a ruptured Achilles in last season which caused him to miss the World Cup.

Koscielny was previiously asked to travel with the squad by new manager Unai Emery for recent matches against Bournemouth and Manchester United, and speaking to reporters after last weekend’s win, goalkeeper Leno said: “Of course, it is difficult for me to compare before [Koscielny’s injury] because I was not here, but in training you see how he is talking to other players.

“We have many young players, he talks to them and, for me, he is a big personality in the team, in the dressing room.

“Before [playing] Tottenham, he was not in the squad but five minutes before the game he said many, many good things about the history of the game, how important it is for the fans, the club, every player, so he is the perfect captain for us.”

In Koscielny’s absence, Rob Holding, Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos have frequented the centre-back positions for Arsenal, with the latter two starting alongside Stephan Lichsteiner in a back three against Huddersfield.

However, Holding has now been ruled out for the season with a knee injury and with both Sokratis and Mustafi suspended for Sunday’s clash with Southampton, Koscielny is likely be called upon.

The centre-back is expected to make his comeback against Qarabag in the Europa League on Thursday and Leno is pleased to see him back.

“Of course, he trained a long time for us, but the games are more difficult because the game is different for your head,” the keeper continued.

“I am happy for him  that he will maybe start on Thursday and, of course, he will be an option for the next weeks in the starting XI.”

The Gunners are now fifth in the Premier League table and sit level on points with fourth place Chelsea as they hunt for a Champions League spot for the first time in two years.

Leno was pleased with the most recent win and says it will give them a boost going forward.

“It gives us confidence because we knew that it would be hard game against Huddersfield,” he added.

“Of course, we have quality but it was not the quality [that won the game], the most important thing was our mentality.

“The goal came less than 10 minutes before the end of the game, so we needed to be calm, to play our football, don’t lose too easily the possession.

“We waited for our chance and it was quality in the end from Torreira, but I think it was more about our mentality.”

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