Laurent Koscielny confident Per Mertesacker can help shackle Robin van Persie on return to Arsenal

The Manchester United striker returns to the Emirates for the first time

Defender Laurent Koscielny is confident he and fellow centre-back Per Mertesacker can help shackle former team-mate Robin van Persie to continue Arsenal's “story” against Barclays Premier League champions-elect Manchester United next weekend.

Mertesacker's header at the end of the first half proved enough to secure a 1-0 win at Fulham - where both sides finished with 10 men after Gunners' striker Olivier Giroud saw red in the closing moments.

It was a ninth win in 12 league games for the Gunners, who are in third place, a point ahead of Chelsea and two clear of Tottenham although both have played a match less.

That record, though, will be severely tested next weekend, when United head to the Emirates Stadium looking to close in on the title, spearheaded by the goals of Arsenal's former talisman.

Koscielny said: "I hope we can keep Robin quiet. He is a good player.

"I enjoyed my time playing with him, but I hope we keep the story with us."

The France defender said: "It will be a hard game for the whole team, but we are at home and we will try to get the three points.

"It will be a good game against a big team and I think they have won the title (already)."

Koscielny, 27, has formed a good understanding alongside Mertesacker, whose close-ranger header just before half-time proved enough for victory over a battling Fulham side. So much so that it has kept captain ThomasVermaelen on the bench.

France international Koscielny believes the 6ft 7in German provides a steady influence at the heart of the Arsenal rearguard.

He said: "We play well together as a pair. We communicate on the pitch well.

"His experience is vital and it helps us work together on the pitch, so we try and talk to each other a lot and it is important at the back to have an understanding."

Koscielny added: "Per is a very good player. He reads the ball well. He is clever, attacks the ball and wins headers whereas I can go behind and be quick and cope with the long balls.

"He is good technically so he is good for the defence. Per is calm on the pitch.

"He is good for me, he uses his experience, this helps me, and he helps the team."

Wenger has been impressed by Vermaelen's response since being benched.

"Thomas is one of the best defenders in England, like the two others," the Arsenal boss said.

"I told them at the start of the season we have three outstanding central defenders.

"It is about game by game that I make a decision, and it is about partnership as well."

Wenger added: "Vermaelen has been a substitute for quite a few games and he still plays a big part in the game. I don't see him as a substitute at all.

"Koscielny was a long, long time during the season in that position and that can change very quickly."

PA

News
Courtney Love has admitted using heroin while pregnant with Frances Bean Cobain, her daughter with Kurt Cobain
people
Sport
Murray celebrates reaching the final
tennis
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness