HAVIN’ A CAF! Pals liken Koscielny to Brazilian legend
LAURENT KOSCIELNY has revealed his mates call him the “white Cafu”.
The Arsenal centre-back has been used at full-back in recent games to help ease the Gunners’ injury crisis.
And he says his friends have grown so accustomed to seeing him in that position that they liken him to the legendary rightsided Brazilian.
Arsenal head to Aston Villa tonight without any recognised full-backs after a spate of injuries denied Arsene Wenger the services of Kieran Gibbs, Andre Santos, Bacary Sagna and Carl Jenkinson.
Johan Djourou filled the position in Sunday’s 1-0 defeat at Manchester City but he had to come off in the second half after suffering a groin injury and will now be out for three weeks.
Wenger heads to Villa Park with Per Mertesacker, Thomas Vermaelen, Koscielny, Sebastien Squillaci and Ignasi Miquel as his only fit defenders – all of whom are primarily centre-backs.
Koscielny has filled in at right-back with varying degrees of success this season.
But he insists he’s happy playing there – even if it means getting a ribbing from his pals.
“My mates tease me, calling me the white Cafu,” Koscielny said.
“It’s a position I knew as I started as a professional in France at left-back.
“At the time, I was playing with Guingamp in the second division and I was very young.
“It’s not my favourite position but I’m happy to help the team and do my best there.”
Koscielny, a regular for most of this season, has played a big role in helping the Gunners turn around their campaign after a wretched start.
The north London club won one of their opening five games before a recent good run of form – the defeat at City aside – has put them right back in the hunt for Champions League qualification. The game that sparked Arsenal’s downward spiral came in February last season when, despite being overwhelming favourites, they lost to Birmingham in the Carling Cup final.
Koscielny was responsible in large part for that defeat – the Frenchman’s embarrassing mix-up with goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny allowed Obafemi Martins to tap home the winner two minutes from time.
And Koscielny admits it’s hard to keep that gaffe out of his mind.
“I do think about it sometimes,” he said. “But mistakes happen in life.
“It was hard for the fans and for the club but life goes on.
“There are things more important than losing a final. There will be plenty more finals to play and win.
“It was tough to swallow but it made me a better player and a better person.”
JEEPERS KEEPERS: Koscielny and Szczesny’s cock-up gifts Birmingham Carling Cup final victory in February
DEAD RINGER: Cafu won the World
Cup with Brazil