Daily Archives: February 15, 2013
With the first half of Champions League fixtures done and dusted, neutral football fans like me have been awed with the attacking display of the away sides, as Paris St. Germain, Juventus, Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United all got results they’ll be satisfied with.
Next week, Arsenal will be set to host a European heavyweight in the form of Bayern Munich but all focus has to be firmly fixed on tomorrow’s crucial FA Cup tie against Blackburn Rovers. Arsenal has had some epic encounters with Blackburn in the yesteryear and anything less than a victory will be an utter disappointment.
Besides the recent exit of Andre Santos to Gremio, things have been a bit rosy in this part of the world with two successive wins as well as clean sheets against Stoke and Sunderland. Everyone, including me, ran out of superlatives for the make-shift center back, Bacary Sagna, as his performance against the Black Cats was the kind that can be taped for young defenders to watch while learning their trade.
Sagna was ubiquitous in defense, making all sorts of interceptions and clearances like he has been a center back for ages. In truth, there are a couple of center backs in the business that can deputize as right backs (Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, etc) but we all can bear witness that Sagna has never really had a stint in that position before.
In recent times, Francis Coquelin and Aaron Ramsey have become the team’s utility players that have featured in a host of playing positions but Arsenal’s defensive injury woes has been a bottleneck for a couple of weeks. Arsene Wenger threw some light on the fitness of his injured lot and it seems as if Thomas Vermaelen could be fit in time to play Blackburn.
With Jenkinson suspended and the Gunners sweating over the fitness of Koscielny, many are tipping Ignasi Miquel to come into the squad, but some are hopeful for a repeat of Bacary Sagna’s outstanding performance in center back.
This sentiment has been shared by Arsene Wenger, and the boss believes that Sagna can shine as a center back (via Arsenal.com),
“I always thought he could play there one day”
“We pushed him in this position in training. What he showed in training was encouraging. He had no preparation. He was told 10 minutes before the start of the game and he dealt very well with that situation, so that’s very positive.”
Just another reason to love Bacary Sagna.
In his two games with Arsenal, the club has managed to keep two clean sheets and he has been rock solid in the back while balancing his offensive play brilliantly. Nacho Monreal has blended into the team perfectly, much to the delight of his manager, his teammates and most importantly, the fans.
With Kieran Gibbs out injured, many panicked with the idea of having Andre Santos playing week-in week-out, as his recent displays haven’t been encouraging to say the least. B/R‘s World Leader Writer, Michael Cummings, wrote an article about the fans reaction to Andre Santos’ exit and it’s quite interesting I must say.
There was also another interesting piece from an Arsenal blog, Victory Through Harmony, making a case in defense of the Brazilian, and his views are worth reading as well.
Irrespective of what everyone thinks about Andre Santos, every thoroughbred Gunner is happy with the progress Nacho Monreal has made, and Gibbs will have to be on his toes to displace the Spaniard from the team.
Sagna has lauded his new teammate (via Arsenal.com), praising him for adapting so quickly to the Premier League. Monreal got his debut against the worst opponents possible, those rugby-playing goons from Stoke and it was followed by a fiery trip to the Stadium of Light.
Sagna was also delighted with the team’s attacking diversity (via Arsenal.com), as the club has transformed from a one-man team to a much more formidable force in attack. Lukas Podolski has banged in a dozen goals, Olivier Giroud has 14 and Theo Walcott has 18 goals this season. Folks like Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and a couple of defenders come up with the goods from time to time as well.
Elsewhere, Arsenal is set to sign a £25m kit deal with Adidas, as the Nike contract expires next season (via the Telegraph). Adidas used to have a client in the Premier League in the form of Liverpool, but they backed out from the Anfield outfit after the club demanded for an extension.
Adidas is also odds on to make Fulham’s kit as the clubs deal with Kappa expires at the end of this season. The German company will gain a lot when they start producing Arsenal’s kit, as it’s believed that the Gunners are the third highest jersey buyers with an estimated amount of 800,000 kits per year, behind Manchester United and Barcelona.
More on the Blackburn game tomorrow.
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