‘Great to have him back’ - Mertesacker talks up return of Arsenal teammate

Arsenal centre-back Laurent Koscielny returned to action last week.

Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker is pleased that fellow defender Laurent Koscielny has returned to action following his injury layoff.

The French international centre-back has started just eight Premier League games this season after picking up an injury while on international duty in September.

Since his return, the Gunners have kept two clean sheets as victories over West Bromwich Albion and Southampton have propelled the North London club back towards the top four.

If the Emirates outfit harbour hopes of a guaranteed finish in the Champions League places, Koscielny’s involvement in the first-team will undoubtedly be crucial.

Speaking ahead of the trip to Stoke City, fellow defender Mertesacker commented on his return to the side while also revealing the importance of their successful defensive partnership.

“It’s great to have him back,” Mertesacker told Arsenal's official website. “There’s a good partnership between us but also the team trusts him because he’s a great centre-back and a great lad.

“We look good at the moment but we have to continue doing well, especially in practicing and training. We compliment each other really well and you can see that, especially last season where we kept a lot of clean sheets.

“We have different qualities and that fits really well together. We try to keep that and remind ourselves there is still something to improve but there’s a good partnership and that’s good for the core of the team. We think that can help everyone.

“Laurent has speed and ability to build up from the back, which fits with Arsenal. Maybe I’ve got different qualities, but those qualities together make us a good partnership.”

Koscielny has been involved in 13 games in all competitions this season, helping Arsene Wenger’s men keep six clean sheets.

The trip to the Britannia stadium has often caused the North Londoners problems in the past, and the Mertesacker-Koscielny partnership will have to be firm if they want to come away with the three points.

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