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English Premier League

Arsenal’s Sead Kolasinac proves there are still bargains out there, says Arsene Wenger

Bosnian left wingback inspires turnaround from a goal down at Emirates Stadium against Swansea

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 October, 2017, 11:56am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 October, 2017, 9:31pm

Arsene Wenger first made his name as Arsenal manager by discovering players that few rivals had spotted and signing them at bargain prices.

Victory in his 800th league game in charge, 2-1 against Swansea City at the Emirates Stadium, came thanks to another player who attracted few headlines when he arrived at the north London club.

Sead Kolasinac, the Bosnian left wingback, is unlikely to make the same sort of impact at Arsenal as Patrick Vieira or Thierry Henry, but his preseason arrival on a free transfer from Schalke proves Wenger can still spot unheralded talent.

Against Swansea, Kolasinac scored his third goal for the club, and his first in the Premier League, to cancel out a first-half opener by the visitors’ Sam Clucas. Kolasinac then set up the winner for Aaron Ramsey.

“Since he has arrived he has convinced everyone that he is a good signing,” Wenger said. “And when you see the quality of his performance today, you can see there are still some good deals to make out here.

“Kolasinac was decisive today because he scored and made an assist. He has the natural qualities that suit his position as a wingback, first that as a defender he is more offensive. And secondly because he has the body power in his game that you absolutely need in the Premier League.”

Wenger might have added that the Bosnian also has the willingness to play on despite injury that supporters appreciate. Although he finally came off the field 12 minutes from time, he did so reluctantly.

“He had a hip injury before but came back today,” Wenger said. “We hope to get him fit for next Sunday against Manchester City.

“He wanted to play on but it came back a bit too much and I thought there was no need to take a gamble.”

Wenger’s first league game in charge in 1996 finished with the same raw scoreline albeit against a different opponent – “away to Blackburn, 2-1 for Arsenal”, he recalled.

“When you play 800 times, you have some deja vus.”

Many away teams turn up at the Emirates intent solely on defending but Wenger, as he has often done, found a way to win the tactical battle and the game.

“At half-time I was a little worried and I knew that Swansea had conceded only one away goal,” he said.

“It was important to play quicker, sharper, with more penetration, which we did in the second half.”