Arsenal defender Laurent Kosicelny believes that the north London derby victory over rival Tottenham turned the Gunners' Premier League season around, after a poor start saw the them run the risk of missing out on Champions League football next year.
The 26-year-old feels that after just two wins from their opening six matches, including an 8-2 humiliation at the hands of Manchester United, and the late signing of several players in the transfer window, led to some questions being asked among the squad.
However, the defender praised the mental fortitude of the team, hailing them for turning around their season and keeping their dreams of securing Champions League football for a 16th successive season alive, pin-pointing the 5-2 comeback win over Spurs as the turning point of the season.
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“If we have a nightmarish start to the season it’s because we deserved it. Frankly I want to come out of this season having matured,” Kosicelny told France Football.
"The season I went through was tough but full of emotions. Tottenham at our place [was the turning point].
“We had pressure, we were five points behind Chelsea and everyone was saying ‘the Champions League is finished, Tottenham will win’.
“But we beat them 5-2 and we put together seven wins. Maybe we didn’t dominate all our matches but mentally we had something more."
The France international admits that the players were simply not giving their all out on the pitch in the previous months, but the issues were aired and addressed in a series of tense team meetings."The start of the season was catastrophic," Koscielny added. "We lost key players from our system. There was late recruitment of new players and the mayonnaise needed time to ‘take’.
“There was the thrashing at Old Trafford. The whole world buried us.
"We needed to sort that out. Everyone got down to doing just that, the coach, the club. The group was not giving enough for the club and we realised that."
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