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22nd Oct, 2016 | 7:03am

Koscielny shares key to Arsenal title challenge ahead of Middlesbrough clash

By Will Butcher

Laurent Koscielny believes that Arsenal have to tough out victories as they lay the foundations for a title challenge this season.

The France international is set to wear the armband against newly promoted Middlesbrough on Saturday, as Arsenal look to stretch their winning streak to eight games.

Koscielny revealed that the Gunners must continue winning games even if they have not deserved to pick up three points.

“If you want to be champions, you have to win the tough games,” Koscielny told Sky Sports‘ Soccer Saturday programme.

“The most important thing is to win games when you are not playing well. We need to come out of games saying: ‘it was difficult, but we won 1-0′.

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“We need to stay strong like a unit, defend together and win games 1-0, that’s the most important thing.”

Koscielny, 30, has been a rock at the heart of the Gunners’ defence this season, helping Arsene Wenger’s side keep five clean sheets during his 10 league and cup appearances.

The former Lorient and Guingamp stopper is likely to wear the armband in the absence of club captain Per Mertesacker against Aitor Karanka’s Middlesbrough at the Emirates.

Alongside £35million summer signing, Shkodran Mustafi, Koscielny is expected to oversee his side pick up another three points as they look to continue applying pressure on league leaders Manchester City.

Three points on Saturday could see Arsenal top the Premier League by the end of gameweek nine, if Pep Guardiola’s men fail to secure a win against Southampton.

In other Arsenal news, this new signing has revealed his disappointment about his lack of involvement with the Gunners.