The Right Back Dilemma and a Tale of Saint Santi
It all began in October 2011 when Arsenal visited White Shite Lane to play those Spuds from the other side of North London. Rafael van der Fart controlled the ball with his arm and lashed a shot that went past Wojciech Szczesny. After some brilliant intricate passing play, Aaron Ramsey was on hand to blast in Arsenal’s equalizer but PFA Young Player of the Year for last season, Kyle Walker, won the derby for his team with a fierce shot that was misjudged by Szczesny.
The game was marred by a horrific injury suffered by Bacary Sagna when he landed awkwardly fracturing his leg in the process. Unlike Ricardo Vaz Te that discolated his shoulder thanks to karma, Sagna’s case was rather unfortunate. To add to Arsenal’s woes, Sagna’s replacement, Carl Jenkinson was having back problems and it wasn’t better on the left hand side as Kieran Gibbs (groin) and Andre Santos (ankle) spent countless manhours nursing injuries as well.
Arsenal clearly struggled through the winter period without its natural fullbacks and the make-shift center backs like Johan Djourou and Thomas Vermaelen put up below-par performances throughout that period as Arsene Wenger’s men kept messing up on the pitch. When the fullbacks returned in Spring, they came along with their balance, wit, crosses and most importantly, support to the forward line, as Arsenal lacked that in their absence.
In rather unfortunate circumstances, Sagna broke his leg again in May following a clash with Norwich’s Bradley Johnson, causing him to watch the European Championships in the comfort of his home with his beautiful Ludivine. After spending five months rehabilitating and recuperating, Sagna featured for the Arsenal Under-21s in their victory over Reading’s Under-21s.
As expected, Sagna has expressed his delight in playing the beautiful game again, even if it was for the Under-21s,
“It is amazing to be back, I have been waiting for this moment for five months. This was my target: to come back and play, firstly for the under-21 team. Everything went well and we won, so I am very happy.
“I have been working really hard. I spent some time in the rehab centre, then I came back and worked really hard with the fitness coach and the physios to be ready to play – and finally I have.
“When you have such a big injury once, you take it, but twice is hard. In my mind I was a bit sad, but the next day I was ready for the challenge, which was to come back stronger and I am in a good way today.”
Like Jack Wilshere and Emmanuel Frimpong before him, Wenger intends to throw caution into the wind in easing these long-term absentees into the team, and to be frank, the players holding the fort have been superb as well.
Even if Frimpong is 110% fit and all deeeeeeeenched up, he can’t displace Mikel Arteta from this team. For those that don’t know, Arteta is the second best midfielder in Europe this season when it comes to completing passes. The legendary midfield maestro, Xavi Hernandez, leads the charts with a pass completed percentage of 96.3% while yours truly, Mr. Lego Hair has completed 93.8% of his passes.
Jack Wilshere on the other hand has been missed dearly, and with Abou Diaby still spending more time on the treatment table, Wilshere’s transition to the first team will be easier because I don’t feel that Aaron Ramsey and Francis Coquelin are good enough to make that box-to-box role theirs for keeps.
Sagna’s records speak for itself as he has notched up 205 appearances in five seasons with Arsenal and the fans can attest that Bac the Man has been one of Arsene Wenger’s most consistent players week-in week-out. Sagna averages over 45 games a season since his arrival from AJ Auxerre in 2007.
However, Sagna has acknowledged Carl Jenkinson’s stellar performances this season, stating that he’s going to be one of the best. We can’t deny how excellent Jenko has been this season, even to the extent of being in a tug of war between England and Finland.
The question is, will Arsene Wenger draft Sagna back into the squad when he’s fully fit? Will he give Jenkinson a run-out in the “lesser games” when Sagna needs to take a breather? Will Sagna reproduce his usually consistent form after being out from the game this long?
I’ve created a poll on this right back dilemma, feel free to place your votes below,
Santi Cazorla has been earning the plaudits for his outstanding performances this season and he has been named as Arsenal’s Player of the Month ahead of Carl Jenkinson and Gervinho. He has also been called up to the Spanish Mutant squad ahead of Chelsea’s Juan Mata. Wenger has waxed lyrical about the magician, stating that he makes everyone better.
Cazorla’s success story has been heart-warming and I probably feel that Tomas Rosicky should be preparing his retirement party sooner rather than later because it will probably take only an injury for anyone to displace Saint Santi from the first team.
Arsenal.com published a good analytical piece on Cazorla, revealing how he pulls the strings in midfield. Trust me, it’s worth a read. Soccer Fan Base also published an article on Cazorla comparing him with Cesc Fabregas. On that front, I don’t want to jump into the league of folks comparing Saint Santi with El Capitan. Both players are exceptional and I’ll leave it that way.
With the vast amount of talent at Vicente del Bosque’s disposal, its really funny to know how a brilliant player like Cazorla can’t command a place in the first team. I’m going to watch that Spain vs. France game with a keen eye because I’ll like to see what the new Les Bleus gaffer, Didier Deschamps, has up his sleeves.
I and every Gooner out there prays for our players to return back to the Emirates unscathed because the games are coming thick and fast. Besides, Arsenal still has some ground to cover in the Premier League as well as gaining a stronghold of its group in the Champions League.
This is where I pull the plug on today’s post.
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Posted on October 10, 2012, in Arsenal, Football, Injury News, Premier League and tagged Arsenal, Bacary Sagna, Carl Jenkinson, Football, Premier League, Santi Cazorla. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.