‘An­i­mal’ Ko­lasinac ready to rum­ble, says Wal­cott

New Straits Times - - Sport -

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 English Pre­mier League.

The 24-year-old came off the bench in the first half of Sun­day’s match against Chelsea at Wem­b­ley and won over his new team­mates with a com­mand­ing dis­play, capped by Ar­se­nal’s 82nd­minute 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 shootout that Ar­se­nal won 4-1.

Wal­cott re­vealed the hulk­ing Ko­lasinac has made a big im­pres­sion with his no-holds-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.

“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.”

EPA PIC

Ar­se­nal’s Sead Ko­lasinac (left) scores against Chelsea in the Com­mu­nity Shield match on Sun­day.

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