Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny believes a calm approach is the only way to deal with physical confrontations such as the one he experienced with Chelsea striker Diego Costa.
In September’s Premier League meeting at Stamford Bridge, the pair grappled for position before Costa slapped Koscielny in the face with a flailing arm.
The incident originally went unseen, with Koscielny’s team-mate Gabriel subsequently getting sent off after coming to the defence of his colleague.
Costa was retrospectively banned for three matches for his spat with Koscielny, who says a calm head helped to prevent him from reacting to the Spain international.
“At the moment, when Diego Costa slaps me, I don’t care and I keep playing because we were in a defensive situation,” he told L’Equipe.
“Then he pushes me and I fall but I get up immediately because I’m not the kind of player that falls on the ground like that. Of course, I could have had a reaction but I kept calm.
“When you play against Costa, you know he is really about physical contact, he always wants to drive the defender mad. But you have to stay calm.
“You can be mad at that sort of situation. I rarely went mad even if I had a lot of duels against attackers. But it was always with respect like with Luis Suarez for instance. We were shaking hands in the end and it was over. I feel like you have to be more of a calm person when you grow up
“After the game, I got a lot of messages saying ‘Congrats, if I were in your place I would have punched him’.
“You know, I’ve been five years with Arsenal and I played about 200 games for my team. Some of them were very important. I played a World Cup, a European Championship… all of this contributes to my serenity and is helping to not be overwhelmed with emotions.”