Kudos Emmanuel, But Here’s To Bacary Sagna: Footballer And Dance-Master

For those of you who thought Bacary Sagna had been dropped on Saturday, or rested, the truth is he was carving up some shapes late into the night on the dance floor of El Divino in Mallorca, as my photographic evidence shows. As I sobered up around 6am, the poor local man who I had almost convinced into believing was actually Sagna, became no more than a great look-a-like, or at best a long lost cousin.
Whether Sagna was rested, dropped or indeed clubbing in the Mediterranean, doesn’t hide the fact he is a key asset to Arsenal. Emmanuel Eboue had a fine game against Sunderland, and some comments on Insider suggested the Ivorian should keep his place ahead of Bacary, but I just can’t agree.
When Sagna first came on the scene in north London, I joked with friends about when the Bacary Sagna Stand would be built; such was my interest and adoration for our latest French acquisition from Auxerre. The personal belief still, is that there are not many defenders in the Premiership better than him.
Perhaps Sagna is not at his best right now. Everybody is due a slight dip in form and can’t be expected to play to the highest level throughout a whole season. For Bacary, there are some exceptions anyway; given the fact that he has missed only three Premiership games all season.
What makes Bacary one of the top right backs in the Premiership? First it’s the Frenchman’s textbook style. Usually his first touch is good and if there is a clearance to be made, the ball ends up down the field in corners, rather than sliced into the stands, separating him from the technical underclass of the Prem. He defends first and chooses his moments to attack with care, which can’t be said for others at times – rule one: defend first!
The left-hand side has been the weak link this season, where injuries and inconsistent runs havn’t helped. With Sagna, the right flank comes under less pressure because the spider-haired Senegalese descendant knows how to stand on his feet and get tight to his opponent. Crosses are allowed to arrive into the Arsenal box much less frequently from the right, compared to the left.
In his three seasons (including the current campaign) as a Gunner, Sagna has made 89 appearances, and 16 for the France national team. At the end of the 2007/08 season he was named by his piers in the PFA Team of the Year alongside the likes of Steven Gerrard, Cristiano Ronaldo and Fernando Torres.
The consistency of the 27-year old is one of his strongest characteristics as a footballer, partly down to his professionalism and serious attitude, to perform to the same standard regardless of who he plays against. This was magnified greatly during the 2007/08 season when Bacary’s older brother was found dead in a bathtub just one week before a Champions League tie with AC Milan. Under advice from his father, Sagna played on helping the team to victory.
Kudos to Emmanuel Eboue for showing a similar professional attitude against Sunderland considering it was one of few starts this season. He also won the man of the match award in the opinion of many Insiders this week. Still, I hope to see Bacary back in action soon, who at an investment of around £8 million is by far one of Wenger’s shrewdest buys.

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