Arsenal fans had arrived searching for clues as to whether Alexandre Lacazette might be the catalyst for a sustained Premier League title challenge but actually departed most uplifted both by the man he was supposed to replace and Kolasinac, a free transfer from Bosnia.
Olivier Giroud and Saed Kolasinac had started only among the Wembley substitutes but it was their contributions that ultimately clinched what was a seventh Community Shield for Arsene Wenger.
Kolasinac, whose various nicknames even before arriving in England included ‘The Destroyer’, ‘The Tank’ and ‘The Bosnian Hulk’, is just about the least Arsenal-like signing imaginable and, in the unflinching desire and strength he displayed for the equalising goal, it became obvious that he will add something quite different this season.
These are early days but, as a free transfer from Schalke, he already looks not just like one of the signings of the summer but of future cult potential at The Emirates.
Wenger later admitted that he had hesitated before starting Kolasinac due to the pressure of making a first major Arsenal appearance at Wembley but he excelled even in an unfamiliar centre-back role after replacing Per Mertesacker.
Kolasnic’s normal position is left full-back or wing-back but is the sort of player whose sheer presence impacts across the entire team.
“You have players who are pumped up in the gym, and players who are born strong, and he is the second,” said Wenger.
“I got him as well because of his attitude; the modern game doesn’t tolerate as many weaknesses anymore as it did 20 years ago. He has good talent and a strong, determined attitude supported by a strong body.”
Similar could be said of Giroud and, as he stood being serenaded by Arsenal fans to the tune of ‘Hey Jude’ after converting the match-winning penalty, it was another reminder of his unique and sometimes underappreciated value.
We are constantly told that modern football is a squad game and Wenger’s job now is to convince Giroud of this and how, even often as a substitute, he can remain as influential as any regular starter.
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