Three at the back is not a crowd for Arsenal's Koscielny

LONDON • Laurent Koscielny believes Arsenal's defensive rethink can help drive Arsene Wenger's side to a top-four finish in the Premier League.

The Gunners will face outgoing champions Leicester City at the Emirates today, buoyed by their FA Cup semi-final success against Manchester City that set up a final with Chelsea.

Sunday's Wembley victory followed Arsenal's league win at Middlesbrough when the under-fire Wenger responded to his side's alarming dip in form by changing to a three-man backline.

Having registered back-to-back wins with his new line-up, Wenger is likely to stick with the formation for the visit of Craig Shakespeare's revived Leicester side.

A third successive win will move Arsenal to within four points of fourth-placed City, in possession of the final Champions League place.

Arsenal centre-back Koscielny has no doubt that his fellow Frenchman's decision to change things around has increased the chances of the club ending a difficult season on a high.

STRONGER REARGUARD

There was a tactical turnaround, but we've been working on it for 15 days... I think we also found confidence in this system with three defenders. We are more solid behind.

LAURENT KOSCIELNY, Arsenal defender, on his side reaping the rewards of a switch to a three-man defence in recent games.

"There was a tactical turnaround, but we've been working on it for 15 days," the France international said. "In that system, there are players who are good. It's good for the collective. I think we also found confidence in this system with three defenders. We are more solid behind."

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, described by Wenger as "a revelation" at wing back in the 3-4-3 system, could be involved against the Foxes despite leaving Wembley on crutches. Sunday's man of the match took a kick to his foot against City.

"It was precautionary. It is not a bad injury and we will test him today. Nobody was really injured after the game," the Arsenal manager said yesterday, when he once again refused to comment on his future.

"Overall that win will give us a bit more confidence, I think it will convince everybody that with the right energy level, the right fighting spirit and the right togetherness, we can beat everybody."

Leicester enter the game in London potentially just one victory away from safety after five wins from seven games under Shakespeare took them to 37 points.

"Seeing the Arsenal match (against Manchester City) it didn't look like turmoil to me, there were players fighting and they thoroughly deserved to win in the end, even though it was a close game," Shakespeare said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 26, 2017, with the headline 'Three at the back is not a crowd for Arsenal's Koscielny'. Print Edition | Subscribe