Arsenal Depot

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Sagna Hints At Bac-king Out As Bould Gets Due Credit

Just as Arsenal seemed to be settling down to a period of stability then BOOM,  along comes Bacary Sagna’s interview questioning the sale of Robin van Persie and Alex Song. While one or two of his remarks may have been taken out of context, the overall message is crystal clear – Bac isn’t a happy bunny.

From a footballing perspective, Bacary’s remarks need to be taken with a pinch of salt. Where Van Persie was concerned, it simply came down to financials. Arsenal would have been happy to forego the transfer fee they received for the Dutchman. But the plain and simple fact is that the Gunners’ business model, like it nor not, can’t afford a four-year £250k a-week contract for a 29 year-old.

Alex Song was a different matter. Indications are that the club were more keen to be rid of the Cameroonian than the other way around. With Cazorla’s arrival, Rosicky’s renaissance, Diaby’s good health and Jack’s imminent return, Arsenal’s midfield needed trimming. Personally, I would have preferred Song to stay but one can understand Arsene’s decision to let him go with options aplenty in that area.

While judging Sagna’s remarks, we must consider the relationship between players. For example, Olivier Giroud has stated that Laurent Koscielny’s presence at Arsenal means a lot to him personally. By all accounts, Bacary and Alex got along well with each other too. The Cameroonian’s sudden departure must have come as a shock to the Frenchman, as it did to many supporters. Combined with the success enjoyed by recent departees, it’s understandable that the best right-back in the country is feeling a bit frustrated at present.

With regards to Sagna’s contract situation, it’s unreasonable to expect the club to offer an extension to a player approaching 30 when he still has two years left on his current deal. Sometime during the year, based on Bac’s performances, the club would surely have begun negotiations. Remember it’s a double-edged sword, the difficulties in moving elder statesmen like Arshavin and Squillaci highlight the pitfalls of dishing out long-term deals too far in advance.

Nevertheless, Bacary’s statements are worrying because he’s been Arsenal’s most consistent performer over the last 4 years. Carl Jenkinson’s emergence may put the Frenchman under pressure but at the moment, Bac is still the best in the league in his position and it would be another massive blow for Arsenal if we were to lose him in the summer.

There is one way to end this uncertainty among players and that is to win something. Although on-pitch success is influenced by activity in the transfer market, there are many other factors required to build a winning team. Among them, team balance, squad depth, tactical flexibility, attacking prowess and defensive solidity are all necessary to challenge for trophies. In the three matches so far, Arsenal have displayed signs that the team are better equipped in many of those respects this season than in years past.

One of the major areas of improvement has undoubtedly been in our defensive display. The season is only a few weeks old and many more difficult questions will be posed of the Gunners but there’s no denying that the team look much more organised and there’s a good work ethic being shown all over the pitch. Steve Bould is getting due recognition for this transformation, both Arsene Wenger and Thomas Vermaelen acknowledging the ex-defender’s influence on Arsenal’s shape without the ball.

A more defensive mindset may compromise our attacking play in the short-term but it’s not such a bad thing right now. By the looks of things, Cazorla, Giroud and Podolski will be heavily involved while Wilshere and Diaby are practically like new signings as well. It will take some time before midfielders and strikers start speaking the same language. In the meantime, being hard to beat will present opportunities to punish the opposition on counter attacks. The manner of victory at Anfield may well be a blueprint for the way Arsenal will play against sides in the top half of the table.

Perhaps we lack the firepower to win the league this season. Barring injuries though, we do have  a squad capable of being serious challengers in domestic competitions. Even a COCup would be welcome – if only to get the voodoo off our back and get Bac back onside.

Until ‘morrow.


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