Kolasinac, a free transfer signing after his contract at Schalke 04 expired in June, replaced the injured Per Mertesacker during the Community Shield win over Chelsea and headed Arsenal’s second-half equaliser. Despite being deployed in central defence during his hour on the pitch he also caught the eye with some marauding runs from the back and Walcott has seen enough to believe Kolasinac’s power and physical condition will be vital attributes.
“Sead looks an absolute tank,” Walcott said. “He’s one tough unit to get past and I’m sure his physical attributes are going to be key to us this season.
“Honestly, he is an absolute animal. He’s incredible. I see him in the gym every day; you can just tell he looks after himself well, he eats the right food and he’s professional. You can see the power he’s got when he’s got the ball, his pace and everything. It’s beautiful to watch and he’s a great addition to the squad.”
In a hyper-inflated transfer market the German-born Kolasinac, who is 24 and has 18 caps for Bosnia & Herzegovina since being naturalised in 2014, certainly appears to be a bargain. He has been a tough opponent for Walcott in training, too, and the England forward thinks he is equipped to be an instant success.
“Trust me, he’s not easy to get around – he’s quite wide as well,” Walcott said. “He fits perfectly for the Premier League, he’s absolutely perfect. He’s going to show something different. I’ve seen glimpses of him in pre-season and he’s going to get fitter, stronger and quicker. This league is the best and I think he could be one of the best in the league.”
Arsène Wenger expressed a similar view after Arsenal’s penalty shootout victory, and the hope is Kolasinac can add extra steel to a league campaign that begins at home to Leicester on Friday night. The Emirates Stadium was rarely a happy venue last season and Walcott hopes the supporters will offer a clean slate to a side who are still adjusting to a 3-4-3 system.
“Every season we tend to start the league not so well, and I think a Friday night game might be better for us,” Walcott said. “It’s a bit different, it’s new for us and obviously the fans will be up for it. The home support will be so key this season. You’ve got to be patient sometimes with this formation we’re playing, it’s a different style of football, that’s what we’re still learning and we’re getting better. I think we showed it [against Chelsea]. We managed to stop Chelsea playing the football they tend to do when they play it out to the full-backs, we stopped them very well and we’d worked on that.”
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