Ko­lasinac ready to rum­ble, says Wal­cott

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

LON­DON: Theo Wal­cott has backed Sead Ko­lasinac to bring some much-needed steel to Ar­se­nal’s de­fence af­ter the in­tim­i­dat­ing Bos­nian made his pres­ence felt in the Gun­ners’ Com­mu­nity Shield vic­tory over Chelsea.

Ko­lasinac joined Ar­se­nal on a free trans­fer from Schalke in the close-sea­son and al­ready looks an ideal fit for the phys­i­cal de­mands of the Premier League. The 24year-old came off the bench in the first half of Sun­day’s friendly against Chelsea at Wem­b­ley and won over his new team­mates with a com­mand­ing dis­play, capped by Ar­se­nal’s 82nd-minute equaliser. Ko­lasinac is usu­ally a left-back, but he showed his ver­sa­til­ity, re­plac­ing the in­jured Per Merte­sacker at cen­tre-back and help­ing the of­ten leaky Gun­ners de­fence sub­due Chelsea.

Not con­tent with dom­i­nat­ing at the back, Ko­lasinac popped up at the other end to score with a pow­er­ful header, forc­ing the penalty shoot-out that Ar­se­nal won 4-1. Wal­cott re­vealed the hulk­ing Ko­lasinac has made a big im­pres­sion with his no­holds-barred ap­proach in train­ing and the Gun­ners winger is ex­pect­ing op­pos­ing for­wards to get an even tougher time from the Bos­nian this sea­son. “Sead looks an ab­so­lute tank. He is one tough unit to get past. His phys­i­cal at­tributes are go­ing to be key for us this sea­son,” Wal­cott said. “He is an ab­so­lute an­i­mal. I see him in the gym ev­ery­day. You can just tell he looks af­ter him­self well. He eats the right foods. He is a pro­fes­sional. “The power he’s got and his pace, it’s beau­ti­ful to watch. He’s a great ad­di­tion to the squad.

“Trust me, he is not easy to get around. He’s quite wide as well. He fits per­fectly for the Premier League. “This league is the best and he’s go­ing to be one of the best in the league.” Af­ter last sea­son’s trou­bled cam­paign ended with FA Cup fi­nal vic­tory against Chelsea, Arsene Wenger’s side are un­der pres­sure to chal­lenge for the Premier League ti­tle.

But, con­signed to the Europa League af­ter fail­ing to qual­ify for the Cham­pi­ons League for the first time in 20 years, Wal­cott ad­mits it won’t be easy to change the per­cep­tion that Ar­se­nal have lost ground on their ti­tle ri­vals.

BUZZING

“It’s go­ing to be a tough sea­son, we all know that, with the Europa as well,” he said. “We will let peo­ple talk on the out­side. We know what we have to do this sea­son. “We know how im­por­tant it is. We are up for the chal­lenge, we do like a good chal­lenge. “It is go­ing to be dif­fer­ent this year. It’s how we re­act. We can’t re­ally dwell on the past any­more.

“We have to fo­cus on our strengths. We had a good end to last sea­son and we are getting used to a new sys­tem. “We are slowly learn­ing it. It is work­ing for now and we will stick with it.” Key to Ar­se­nal’s suc­cess will be the form of club record sign­ing Alexan­dre La­cazette. The France for­ward, signed for 46.5 mil­lion ($60.6 mil­lion) from Lyon, hit the post against Chelsea, but that was the high­light of a largely anony­mous dis­play.

Wal­cott de­fended his new team-mate, say­ing: “When you give him time and space on the ball he can show his qual­ity. “He’s a goalscorer and he is go­ing to score goals for this club. “The amount of play­ers we have in key po­si­tions, they are go­ing to sup­ply chances for him.”

Ar­se­nal open their Premier League cam­paign at home to Le­ices­ter City on Fri­day and Wal­cott can’t wait to get go­ing. “Be­ing a night game might be bet­ter for us. The fans will be up for it,” he said. — AFP

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