By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes
Laurent Koscielny has revealed how he kept calm and did not strike back at Diego Costa during their explosive altercation this season.
Koscielny says he was bombarded with messages after the clash between Chelsea and Arsenal in September from friends who admitted they would have hit Costa had they been in the same situation.
The controversial Chelsea striker raised his hand to the Gunners centre-back and pushed him to the floor, and then got involved in a separate battle with Gabriel which resulted in the young Brazilian being sent off.
Koscielny, 30, explains that his experience enabled him to keep his composure.
“At the time, when he gives me a slap and puts his hand on my face, I don’t pay attention,” Koscielny told L’Equipe of the incident with Costa. “We’re in a defensive situation and I continue to play.
“After that, he pushes me, I fall and I get up again because I’m not the type of player who goes down like that. Of course I could have had a reaction but I managed to keep my cool.
“When you play against Costa, you know that he’s very keen on physical contact. He wants to make a defender blow his fuse but you have to know how to stay calm.”
After the game, Costa was respectively banned for three matches as a result of his clash with the former Lorient defender.
Koscielny said he felt he had emerged stronger for not having reacted and revealed that plenty of people told him they would have handled the situation differently.
“After the game, I received a good few messages saying, ‘well done, because me, I would have hit him.’
“You know, I’ve been at Arsenal for five years now, I’ve played over 200 matches with my team, some of which were very important, I’ve played at a World Cup, the Euros. All that experience contributes to my serenity and allows me not to be overwhelmed by the emotions of a match.”