Arsenal vs. Everton: Laurent Koscielny Shows Romelu Lukaku Who Is Boss

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Arsenal vs. Everton: Laurent Koscielny Shows Romelu Lukaku Who Is Boss
AP Images

Emirates Stadium, London

Everton produced an impressive display to deny Arsenal victory and a seven point lead over Chelsea and Manchester City. However, although the match ended in a draw, there was one battle Arsenal won comprehensively, that between Everton forward Romelu Lukaku and Gunners defender Laurent Koscielny.

Heading into the game, Lukaku appeared likely to be Everton's most prominent threat.

The Belgian has eight Premier League goals to his name already this season and has terrorised defences up and down the land. Gunners fans were understandably concerned; Lukaku's direct style is reminiscent of former-Chelsea man Didier Drogba, who frequently tormented Arsenal defences.

From the first minute, the powerful forward sought to pull on to Koscielny rather than the 6'6" Per Mertesacker. Lukaku or his manager, Roberto Martinez, must have hoped the Belgian's superior physique and muscle-power would prove too much for the Frenchman.

However, it didn't turn out that way. Koscielny turned in an immaculate display to keep Lukaku quiet for most of the 90 minutes.

Power and strength only count for so much against a player with Koscielny's intelligence. He got extremely tight to Lukaku, rarely affording the striker the chance to turn and get a shot away.

Koscielny's pace is also one of his most remarkable attributes. Lukaku is quick enough to get away from most defenders, but not the former Lorient man.

With Lukaku so well-shackled, Everton's main threat came from their wide men: Steven Pienaar, Kevin Mirallas and, later, Gerard Deulofeu. The Toffees frequently looked to outnumber the Arsenal full-backs and gain the advantage of an overlap on the flanks, and that contributed to their eventual equaliser as Kieran Gibbs was left a little isolated at the back post. 

Koscielny will have ended the match feeling a little hard done by. Everton's equaliser, struck by the hugely promising Deulofeu, came after what Arsene Wenger identified as a foul on Koscielny by Lukaku inside the penalty area.

Referee Howard Webb missed it, the goal stood and Everton were able to claim a deserved point.

Michael Regan/Getty Images

For Arsenal, the late goal came as a blow. For a few brief minutes, Gunners fans had contemplated the possibility of a seven-point lead over the chasing pack.

However, this is a match from which Arsenal should take considerable encouragement. Everton were superb throughout, and few Premier League teams could have contained them so effectively.

Arsenal’s defence showed once again that they have vastly improved upon their erratic performances in 2012. This calendar year, there has not been a pairing as consistent as that between Koscielny and Mertesacker.

Certainly, no Premier League centre-half this season has marshalled Romelu Lukaku as effectively as Koscielny managed to at the Emirates Stadium. He will need to put in a similar performance to deny Sergio Aguero at the Etihad next week.

 

James McNicholas is Bleacher Report's lead Arsenal correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013/14 season. Follow him on Twitter here.

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