Arsenal - Swapping a Rolls Royce for a Banger
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Swapping a Rolls Royce for a Banger

Seldom has a transition into the English Premiership been as seamless as that of Bacary 'Banger` Sagna. History shows that those arriving from foreign shores take time to adapt to the harem scarum nature of English football, particularly those that hop the channel from France. Even genius has taken time to fully reveal itself, as Messrs Henry, Pires and Cantona were plagued by indifferent form in the blossoming of their Premier League careers. One is minded of a line from Fight Club, "for a man`s first fight, his ass is a wad of cookie dough. After a couple of weeks, he`s carved out of wood." But surely Banger arrived with different credentials? The Ligue 1 player of the season for 2006/07. But closer inspection will tell you that past compatriot defenders Pascal Cygan, William Prunier, Laurent Blanc and Mikel Silvestre have arrived to these shores with equitable commendation. Whilst the legendary Marcel Desailly saw his career surrender to the inevitable autumn of his potential in England. Even William Gallas took a little time to simmer to the boil.

So the remarkable initiation of Banger Sagna has been no less a pleasant surprise as an unprecedented revolution. The gusto with which he has taken to the hustle and bustle of the Premiership game, flying into challenges with Laurenesque tenacity, catapulting his distinctive tarantula locks amidst the boots and elbows, has seen the supporters warm quickly to him. However, his quality does not merely lie in his bravery and aggression, but his technical quality has seen him amalgamated into the framework of an Arsenal side based on passing and movement. He is incredibly economical in possession, rarely misplacing a pass or losing the ball in an inane dribble. As is paramount for any of Wenger`s wing heeled full backs, he has the boundless energy to get forward and supplement the attack, where his delivery has been beyond reproach. Pinpoint crosses from the bedreadlocked one have let to vital goals against Wigan Athletic, Aston Villa and a particularly notable assist against Manchester United, where his never say die spirit saw him hook a lost cause back into the six yard box for a Fabregas tap in.

Yet for all of his industry going forward, he is rarely out of position when the opponents forage forwards. Something in particular that he has added to Arsenal`s diminutive backline is some much needed aerial prowess, sensing danger and snuffing out crosses with his salmon like leap. In fact, I must confess that I am mildly surprised that he has yet to find the net from an Arsenal corner. When Sagna was bought in this summer, I cannot have been the only one mildly perplexed. With Eboue and Hoyte looking to be good quality number one and two choices, together with Flamini, Toure, Diarra, Gallas and Djourou all having performed there adequately in the past, I felt the signing was akin to piling sugar onto a bowl of Frosties. Once again, the manager knew better, Wenger was not seeking to plug a gap, but he saw a genuine opportunity to improve on what we had and he took it. Six months down the line and he has to be one of the first names on the team sheet. His sense of seniority confirmed on Wednesday night, when he was sent on to shore up a rattled back four.

Two years ago, with Lauren on the treatment table, Emmanuel Eboue stepped into the breach terrifically, come the Spring journalists and supporters the world over were clamouring to hoist superlatives upon him, his manager even comparing him to the quasi legendary Garrincha. This season, Eboue has appeared rarely in the position, to which there has been a real lack of fanfare, which is compliment to Sagna`s quality and the speed of his transition. At a time when foreign imports are usually just beginning to find their feet, Sagna is considered part of the furniture. A good full back is usually somebody who is ultra consistent, to the point that they are barely noticed. I recall a conversation with a fellow Gooner in a pub at Fulham a couple of years back, in reference to Gilberto he said, "You can tell he`s had a good game when you haven`t noticed him," and I think you can wax similarly lukewarm in reference to a good full back. With Gary Neville`s career sliding into a plethora of injuries, I really believe there is a good case for Sagna being the finest right back in the Premiership right now. Given the early efficacy of his aforementioned compatriots, it really makes Banger`s transition into our team all the more remarkable. Last season, the Arsenal side had all the hallmarks of excellence, but a few anomalies needed to be addressed to lubricate the engine. Of course, Wenger had the answer, it was staring us in the face the whole time. So he sold our star striker and bought a right back.LD

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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday January 11 2008

Time: 12:45PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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Simply the best RB in the EPL right now. Sp*rs fans will probably come over say "NO way!! its Chimbomba". But my god what a terrific player he's been for us. Superb going forward. Superb defending and superb in the air. traits generally lacking in a small player. He's the perfect mix between Hoyte's defensive ability and Eboue's attacking. I too never saw the point of havin him. What a master-stroke by Wenger?!
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11/01/2008 12:56:00

"Piling sugar onto a bowl of frosties". Lovely stuff, LD
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11/01/2008 13:12:00

After Berbatov's sublime touches and passing skills the other night, the commentators were claiming that the player has settled into the PL mor easier than any other player, and whilst he is a bloody good player, Sagna has slotted in seamlessly. I wondered what Wenger was playing at when he signed Bacary, as we had Hoyte and Eboue, but he is easily the one of the best right backs in the game.
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11/01/2008 13:16:00

Spot on... the only thing you missed out is that he plays better when he has the blond locks in! The one match (Portsmouth or Fulham at home I think) when he took them out was the poorest game he had. Apart from that, he really is a sea of tranquility when he bolts into the right-back area, and I wonder if he hasn't even surprised Wenger a bit too with his quick adaptation. I also marvel his invisibility on the pitch and wonder how he makes it look so simple.
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11/01/2008 13:16:00

Andy- It was against Sunderland.
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11/01/2008 13:44:00

Well I for one wished that Wenger bought a right back in the summer. Eboue was never a good defender and Hoyte is no first team material.I was so glad that he did. And from the fisrt game he played for us (agains Gingirliibirgirlysomthng in preseason) he was incredible! While everyone was resting at half time they made him run up and down the wing and Pete Rice was measuring his pulse or something. And than in the second half he was still running. Unbelievable energy. Not quite like Clichy, but close
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11/01/2008 13:50:00

I disagree that you dont notice a good full back. I think Sagna and Clichy are both very noticeable in a very good way. Gilberto has now become notable for his terrible passing and lack of positioning. whereas before you would not notice him because he was doing his job well.
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11/01/2008 14:09:00

I have never seen a player come into the game and settle down as seamlessly as he has. Even Eboue had a couple of reserve games before making a first team bow. Now the only thing that Sagna lacks in order to become the best fullback in the Prem. is if he can nutmeg Ronaldo in a game VS United. The only problem is Ol' Purple Nose knows that Sagna will kick the hell outa Ronaldo so he puts him on the right where he can exploit Clichy's weakness of being out of postion for multiple times in a game.
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11/01/2008 14:09:00

What I meant gazzap was that he's a solid 7 out of ten player. Very few people will come out of a ground mentioning Sagna or Clichy as man of the match, which is a tribute to their consistency and the fact that they play well as a matter of routine. Full back is comparable to defensive midfield as so little of the glory and attention is focussed there.
Little Dutch
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11/01/2008 14:13:00

Sagna has been fantastic for us. Great buy. When he came on against the scum the other night he was clearly head and shoulders above the rest of the back line, quality wise. Top player.
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11/01/2008 14:39:00

I think he is better than Lauren and certainly our best right back for sometime. Technically gifted, as athletic as Lauren with the ability to read the game at least as well as Dixon. The whole back line seems more assured when Sagna plays.
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11/01/2008 15:28:00

Clichy is currently the highest ranked defender in the premiership, according to the Actim Index. (The best forward is Adebayor, and the best goalkeeper: Almunia!!) Sagna deserves all the accollades. This must be one of the best backlines ever!
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11/01/2008 15:38:00

Read the topic and all the posts and thought it might be nice for an opinion from another fan to be voiced. I agree that Sagna (from what i have seen) is a terrific RB and has turned out to be a great buy for you lot. Chimbo was one of if not the best RB in the league when he was at wigan and then at spurs but this year he has really under performed so i wouldn't put him above sagna at the moment. When it comes to noticing a full back i suppose it depends on your opinion. I believe that a top class full back will be noticed as they will bomb forward and get crosses in which will lead to goals. They will also do defensive duties efficiently and when they are forward they know when to get back into position. Also the odd goal from a full back should be a realistic target. At the moment chimbo plays more like a winger than a full back. So yes i would agree with what you have said
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11/01/2008 15:44:00

Fair play to you spursfan. I also agree with the post, because i can't remember the last seamless transition of a foreign player into our league - it was a case of Bacary who? for most of us gooners, and by that time, he was already no1 choice for RB. Afri, we got the goali, left and right back sorted, but its in the middle whilst the ACN is on that leaves me apprehensive. The only high quality CB's we have are Toure and Gallas, i don't think the rest make the grade, which is why i have been quite vocal about my view we need a new top quality CB for a long term solution, not just for cover for ACN. Back to the point of this thread thouhg, Sagna's the main man, quiet and hardworking with 100% effort and committment - a true professional!
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11/01/2008 16:45:00

I don't know abt the best right back bit.. but I do think that he's had a major part to play in terms of where we are.. his positional awareness is superb.. his crossing is brilliant.. and as you said.. his heading is also good. The fact that he could interchange with Eboue, is what I felt really added to the dynamics on the right side.. I don't know if that would happen with Hleb.. it will be interesting to see.. but no doubt.. one of the signings of the season and arguably a bargain at 7 million pounds.. yet another Wenger gem.
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11/01/2008 17:52:00

I agree with WYBI because I honestly can't name a better RB than Sagna in the league right now. (I can't name a better LB than Clichy either, though some may not agree.) His technical side of things you guys have all covered very well, agreed 100%. What I'd also like to point out is this guy is also a humble and good team player. I remember when asked in an ATVO interview whether his "good understanding with Eboue had anything to do with the fact that Eboue played in RB before and so understands Sagna's duty and could cover for him" or something like that, Sagna was really graceful and said yeah they're working together well and he's glad to have Eboue for a partner on the right side - after a crap game of Eboue in RM where he didn't track back at all and left Sagna alone in facing the opponents' attack and ****. He's him who covered for Eboue, not the other way around. But Sagna didn't jump out to take credit but praised his team-mate. Always applauded him as a player since he joined us, but that's when I started liking him also as a person.
Lou the Gunneress
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11/01/2008 19:12:00

I don't think anyone would have thought Sanga would have had such a big impact in his first season, we are lucky we have such a good scouting network.
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12/01/2008 01:25:00

Yeah AB, I'm hoping the scouts will get Arsene a DM or two if it turns out that we're without Gilberto, Flamini and Diarra at the end of this season. I really hope the Flamster will sign a deal but you just never know.
Lou the Gunneress
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12/01/2008 02:09:00

I've become anti-buying players recently as I think the whole transfer system leaves a lot to be desired but when you can un-earth players like Sagna... Sagna is absolutely immense. I think he is the best RB in the Prem without a doubt. Who else comes close? Gael is potentially the best LB as well, I'd say second best right now and it pains me to say Evra is still a notch above. Not by much though.
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12/01/2008 03:14:00

I forgot that Sagna just signed for Arsenal this year. He plays like he's been here since he was a kid. He smoothly fitted in with the hectic play of the EPL, and the fast passing style of Arsenal. What a player he is and what a player he would be.
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12/01/2008 22:33:00

he'd be an assest to any team so if you could get him that would certainly help your push for the title
ozanne park rangers
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15/01/2008 18:51:00


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