The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Koscielny backs Wenger to oversee new era of Arsenal success - providing coach spends big
CLAIREFONTAINE, France - Defender Laurent Koscielny backs coach Arsene Wenger to oversee a new era of success at Arsenal, providing he buys at least four players — including a top-class striker — this summer.
Arsenal, which won the FA Cup to end a long trophy drought, led the English Premier League for long spells and was in the top two places from late September until March before slipping to fourth after crushing defeats to rivals: 5-1 at Liverpool and 6-0 at Chelsea.
Those losses, coupled with injuries to midfielders Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere, severely exposed Arsenal's squad limitations.
"We'll need a goalkeeper, a right back, a midfielder and a striker," Koscielny said on Thursday in an interview with The Associated Press at France's pre-World Cup training camp.
"It's important to have a minimum of these four players so that we'll be better able to challenge over the course of a whole season against teams like Manchester City, Chelsea or (Manchester) United. Winning the FA Cup can change things and lead to other players coming."
Arsenal missed Ramsey's scoring touch and striker Olivier Giroud, who scored 16 league goals, was overplayed, starting 36 of 38 league games.
"Yes, we need to recruit a very, very good striker, because it's important for us, for competition for places, because Olivier needs that to become even better," Koscielny said. "Having a striker who scores more than 30 goals a season can help us win the Premier League. Compared to the squads like Manchester City, even United, Chelsea. ... You can see there's a certain difference."
Arsenal beat Hull 3-2 in extra time in a thrilling FA Cup final. Defeat would have been hugely damaging for Wenger, who was under severe pressure to deliver.
"It was a relief for everyone. We felt a weight coming off us. We made the most of it when we celebrated our trophy, it was an extraordinary moment," Koscielny said. "Thanks to this trophy, we'll be able to play more freely in the years to come without this pressure hanging over us, thinking 'we must win a trophy.'"
Koscielny said Wenger deserved his new three-year contract extension.
"We're all happy. He's the one who brought me over here and gave me my chance," Koscielny said. "A lot of players owe him. It was important for us that he signed again."
The 28-year-old Koscielny recently signed his own new contract to 2019.
"I feel good at this club, I'm trusted," he said. "I play regularly, so I didn't have any wish to leave."
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