A Tribute to Bacary Sagna: An Epitome of Consistency
It’s the 2006/07 season, Arsenal’s first campaign at the Emirates. The Gunners struggle in the Premier League ending up with a fourth placed finish. The club’s Champions League campaign ends in shambles after crashing out to PSV Eindhoven in the Round of 16 and there’s even more heartbreak in the FA Cup as the Gunners lose to Blackburn. The club’s only hope of a trophy comes up against Chelsea in the Carling Cup final and Wenger decides to field the likes of Justin Hoyte, Armand Traore, Denilson Neves, Jeremie Aliadere and Drogba’s wifey, Phillippe Senderos.
After another trophy-less campaign, there are some surprising sales that summer. After so many years of faithful service, Fredrik Ljungberg is sold to West Ham, El Homesickla, or Jose Antonio Reyes as he’s known in the modern world finds his way to Atletico Madrid, and it’s also shocking to know that the club’s record goalscorer, Thierry Henry, has jumped ship to FC Barcelona.
How does Arsene Wenger respond? He buys Lukasz Fabianski to replace the departed Mart Poom, the lethal and clinical Cro-zilian, Eduardo da Silva, for Henry, Lassana Diarra and a relatively unknown right back from AJ Auxerre, Bacary Sagna. With only the threat of Emmanuel Eboue to battle with, Sagna marauded the right wing with his balanced style of play and after making 40 appearances and six assists to his name, Sagna was deservedly voted into the 2007/08 Team of the Year.
Sagna didn’t rest on his laurels and he continued to produce consistent displays week-in week-out, while keeping his optimal fitness levels in check. His continued stellar performances brought an abrupt end to Eboue’s Arsenal career, as the Ivorian opted to join Galatasaray in his bid to play first-team football.
His moment of glory came with a price, as he injured himself after scoring his first ever goal for the club in that Didier Drogba-inspired 2 – 1 loss to Chelsea in Stamford Bridge. In the 2010/11 campaign, he managed to score two well-taken goals against Everton in Goodison Park and Leeds United in Elland Road. His most important goal as it sparked a revival in one of the most enthralling games I’ve witnessed as an Arsenal fan. That was a North London Derby to remember.
Every true Arsenal fan will always remember the North London derby last season at the Emirates for more reasons than one.
Arsenal’s fierce rivals arrived at the Emirates sitting 10 points clear of the Gunners and they went two goals behind for a considerable chunk of the first half, which meant that they would have been 13 points behind Tottenham and their third place ambitions would have been obliterated.
But when the going got tough, it took one header to inspire Arsenal to an unbelievable comeback. A header from Bacary Sagna.
However, when Sagna’s nodded Mesut Ozil’s cross in Arsenal’s win over Stoke, little did we know that it would turn out to be his last goal for the club.
In his time at Arsenal, the fans have become accustomed to his eccentric hairstyle, his beautiful Ludivine, his optimal fitness levels, amazing work rate, his influence on Carl Jenkinson and most importantly, his unrivaled consistency that has been put in question this season. Suffering two broken legs definitely took a toll on Sagna’s fitness and form, but he myst be lauded for trying to come back stronger.
No thoroughbred Arsenal fan will ever forget his 5-star performance against Sunderland this season.
He was drafted into an unfamiliar center back role after Laurent Koscielny picked up a knock in the warm up but Sagna’s performance against Sunderland would go down as one of his best in Arsenal colors. His cause wasn’t helped with the fact that the stand-in right back, Carl Jenkinson, got a red card that exposed his naivety but Sagna marshaled a defense that held the fort from start to finish. He made a lot of vital interceptions, clearances, headers and was awesome in every sense of the word.
In football, the art of tackling requires a lot of precision as well as technique. If you get it right, you might earn an ovation from the crowd…but if you get it wrong, you’ll find yourself in the referee’s book.
Fortunately, Sagna is ranked among the best tacklers in the business, and his record of just 22 yellow cards and one red card in 213 Premier League games is a testament of that. If you doubt Sagna’s clinical abilities in tackling, take a good look at Lee Cattermole’s Premier League profile, where he has amassed 65 yellow cards and seven red cards in 204 games.
Everyone also appreciates the impact he has had on Carl Jenkinson’s fledgling career.
When Carl Jenkinson joined the club as a relatively unknown figure from Charlton Athletic, Wenger took him under his tutelage and made a big call by letting cult hero, Emmanuel Eboue, to go Turkey, leaving young Jenko to understudy Sagna.
After a series of not too impressive performances, Jenkinson got his big break when Sagna was out injured and after watching him make stellar performances from the sidelines, Sagna acknowledged that the young full back will be one of the best in the business (via Arsenal.com),
“He has been really good, and has learned a lot, he is a bit more confident with the ball, and is very solid as a defender.
“He brings a lot to the team, and I am very happy for him because he is a hard worker, a very good guy and is going to be one of the best.”
Since then, Jenkinson signed a long-term deal with the club, made his international debut in England’s defeat to Sweden and he even opened his goalscoring account for the club.
The Metro reports that he has been offered a bumper contract by Manchester City and he would join the exodus of Quinn, David Seaman, Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Toure, Gael Clichy and $amir Na$ri that left the Gunners to earn bigger bucks at the Etihad. Many fans have voiced their concerns on the issue and while others are unhappy that he’s moving to Arsenal’s rivals, fans like me have given him our blessing and we can only wish him all the best.
There are so many things to love about Bacary Sagna, but none can be compared to his consistency on the field of play.
Week-in week-out, Sagna marauded Arsenal’s right flank balancing his defensive and attacking play superbly. Since the days of Lee Dixon and Lauren Etame-Meyer, Sagna’s performances on the right ranks him with the very best in the beautiful game and Arsenal fans are honored to have such an amazing player in every sense of the word.
After 284 appearances, five goals and 22 assists, Sagna’s seven-year stint with Arsenal is over.
Here’s to Sagna, an epitome of consistency.
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