Arsenal's Koscielny makes season debut with U23s

Arsenal captain Laurent Koscielny made his first appearance of the season on Monday by playing the opening half for the club’s Under-23s as he steps up his return from an Achilles injury.

Koscielny made up part of a back three for Freddie Ljungberg’s side in a 5-0 loss to Derby County, although the score was only 1-0 when he went off at half-time. It was Koscielny’s first game since May, when he tore his Achilles tendon during the Europa League semifinals against Atletico Madrid.

Arsenal coach Unai Emery had said Friday he expected the French centre-back to make his return with the u23s this week, and that he’s almost ready to play with the first team.

“Koscielny is close to start maybe taking minutes little by little. And that’s good news,” Emery said then. “Our first idea is to start [him playing] with the under-23s. But these two weeks [during the international break] in training with us, he is looking well with a good performance, good feeling, and I think today he is close to also play with us.”

Arsenal were down to nine men in the second half as three players were sent off in a five-minute span, with Jordi Osei-Tutu and Derby’s George Thorne dismissed after getting involved in an altercation and the Gunners’ Daniel Ballard also getting red-carded for a reckless lunge.

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