11/05/2012 04:46 BST | Updated 11/05/2012 05:13 BST

Arsenal Defender Laurent Koscielny Admits Players Doubted Arsene Wenger

Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny has revealed the club's players doubted manager Arsene Wenger after their nightmarish start to the Premier League season.

The Gunners lost three of their opening five games, including an 8-2 mauling at the hands of Manchester United, with their only win coming at home against Swansea.

Koscielny admits losing Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, and the transfer deadline day splurge - when five players were signed - had unsettled the squad.

He told France Football: "The beginning of the season was a catastrophe. We’d lost players who were key to our system. We recruited late, and it took a while for us to gel.

"We were whopped at Old Trafford. Everybody thought we were dead and buried. But you don’t lose your football like that, like snapping your fingers. It can happen that a grain of sand falls in the machine, and the machine stalls; then you start to have doubts about your qualities, your club, your coach, everything... We had to put the house back in order."

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Arsenal have recovered to occupy the third automatic Champions League qualification berth in the table, with their final game on Sunday away to West Bromwich Albion.

Their resurgence under Wenger came after back-to-back February defeats to AC Milan and Sunderland in the FA Cup, effectively scuppering chances of any silverware this campaign. The Gunners have not won a trophy since the 2005 FA Cup win against Manchester United

Five successive wins in the league, including a 5-2 defeat of north London rivals Tottenham and win away to Liverpool, helped the club recover although they could still not qualify for Europe's premier club competition, should other results go against them and they fail to beat the Baggies.


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Koscielny cites the team's resilience after the 4-0 surrender to Milan in their Champions League round-of-16 first leg as the catalyst for their improvement.

"We might not have dominated every single game, but, mentally, we had something extra. At Liverpool, for example, we always believed, and Robin gave us victory at the very end.

"The biggest regret is, perhaps, the first leg against Milan, when the game completely passed us by. Arsenal’s place is among the top four clubs in England. A club doesn’t ‘die’ like that, and the players realised it. There weren’t too many people to accompany us in this climb back [to our place], but we did it."