Bac’s back and the real importance of Arsenal vs Manchester City
Hello and welcome, from me to you, once again here on Gunners Town. I trust this post finds you well. Should it not, fear not my friend, for what light on yonder window breaks? It is the Community Shield, and Arsenal is the sun.
That’s right ladies and gents. We finally get to see our beloved Arsenal play this weekend against some top-level opposition in what is our final “friendly” of the pre-season, and this particular match-up will be quite interesting for a number of reasons.
This weekend we see our dearly departed, adequately replaced and only recently-absent Bacary Sagna.
It was but two months ago that he had officially left the club on a free. Time flies eh? I had to do a double-take as well upon seeing that number. Not surprising tho, given all that’s happened with the world cup and the minions of mayhem taking over our transfer policy. We’ve been quite spoilt this summer as supporters, and Sunday promises to be a vivid reminder of how horrible Bac looks in blue. It just isn’t his colour.
His reception will be an interesting one. I don’t see him getting any of the kind of stick reserved for the previously Manc’d (Emmanuel Adebayor, Samir Nasri and, to a lesser extent, Gael Clichy). I have a feeling it’ll be a warm one for him, perhaps including a healthy round of applause, for one of two reasons.
Numero Uno – We had him for his best of times, during our worst of times.
For a right back of his quality to have been in our squad on such a consistent basis, during some of the leaner years of our Arsenal history, should not be forgotten. Our former Frenchman is now well over 30 and has decided to go to a team that will be paying him more than we ever would, that will be making him play far less for them than we would have had him play for us throughout the season (thereby prolonging his career to some extent), and that will be viewed to the unbiased-eye as more likely to win something this year.
That last one is a hard one for me to swallow, but it’s the truth. We’re new to the whole “building a squad with superstars, not making all the superstars ourselves” thing. City have been doing it for a number of seasons (it’s the only way they can get the superstars) and I don’t in any way blame Bac for wanting to take an opportunity like that in what is certainly to be his final big contract of his career.
#2 – Mr Professionalism Incarnate.
This here is the main reason I see Bac’s return going down like a fine wine, as opposed to the barrel of rancid piss it might have been. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that during any game that he put on the Arsenal Shirt, he gave us everything he had as a player.
Bacary Sagna embodied the kind of passion on the field we as fans are always guilty of baying for. How many times have we heard the words “he doesn’t look interested” about one or two players on either side when that side isn’t doing well? How many times has that been levelled in his direction?
Not a single solitary time, that’s how many.
Sagna bled Arsenal red-and-white in his time here, and I’d like to believe his blood still runs red a little red, and for that he has my respect and will receive a clap from my quiet little corner of the world.
Let us not forget that this particular team that we’ll be playing won the Premier League last season. Sure, they too have some players only recently back from the World Cup, but part of our squad is only getting back the day after our game (and a fairly important part at that).
We’ll be taking this squad, with its additions, and pitting them against last year’s champions. That’s nothing to be sniffed at.
Now, I don’t expect it to be an amazingly riveting game, and I don’t expect everything to flow for the team quite as well as we’d like it to, but I do expect our players to be up for it and I do expect us to be attempting to address our failures in games like this last season. It’s a short wait from this Sunday to next week Saturday, so we shouldn’t be too far off of where we need to be next week.
Finally, the Arsenal. What will we do?
Finally, and most importantly, this weekend offers us the opportunity to see Arsene Wenger’s thinking of what our best team will be for the start of the new season.
The problem with having so many great players (they are great, aren’t they?) is that those great players also play well for their respective countries. The lateness of the World Cup will have a serious effect on who will get to start not only this game, but the next one as well.
I have a funny feeling that we’ll line up more in lieu of the way we did against Benfica at the weekend than we did against Monaco. I would not be surprised at all to see a front three of Joel Campbell, Yaya Sanogo and Alexis Sanchez. I think, based on the fitness levels, that we’ll largely surrender possession in this game and be a lot more counter-attacking. Calum Chambers in the middle again alongside Laurent Koscienly with Mathieu Debuchy and Kieran Gibbs.
Where I do wonder a little about the team will be midfield. Aaron Ramsey’s a nailed-on starter, and I suspect Mikel Arteta will start too, but who will join them in midfield? Santi Cazorla? Jack Wilshere? Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain?
On the flip side, Wenger might start with Olivier Giroud with the end goal in mind that “the best way to get him fit it to play him”, with a view to getting Sanogo used to his upcoming role for this season. The 60-minute substitution to play against tiring defenders. (Believe me, with wide options this season like Campbell, Chamberlain, Sanchez and Theo Walcott that they’ll need to cover and mark, they will be tired).
The game against City is interesting not just for the questions it asks of the Team, but also for the questions it answers of the manager’s thinking for the start of the season. If Sanogo starts, I’d be willing to put money on him starting against Crystal Palace.
All of this doesn’t mention a thing about the possibility of Sanchez starting up front for us!
Before I go, I’d just like to leave you with this lovely quote from the manager yesterday in his press conference during Members Day when asked about Frank Lampard’s loan move to City.
“If you look at a map, the shortest way from Chelsea to Manchester City is not to fly to New York first” – Arsene Wenger
There’s a fire in that man’s belly, and it’s burning its way to my heart.
As always, keep it classy Arsenal fans.
I’m a passionate Arsenal fan in South Africa with a penchant for the expletive and a driving need to vilify stupidity, incompetence and reactionary fact-calling at every opportunity.
I’ve been supporting Arsenal for nigh on 10 years now from my far-removed vantage at the tip of Southern Africa, and my life is all the better for it.
My heroes include Abou Diaby (for kicking John Terry square in the face, accomplishing something we’ve all dreamed of doing), Arsene Wenger (for the gift of the amazing football he’s given us over the last 20 years consistently enough for us to feel entitled to it), and every one of the Gooners singing their hearts out on match-day, no matter the performance (I’ll join them some day).