February Player of the Month
With the events of the past few days, it has been easy to neglect some of the many positives that have come out of this month for Arsenal. With February`s quota of fixtures now completed, it is a chance to reflect on some of those with the February player of the month award. It has been another difficult one this month. Emmanuel Adebayor has maintained his goalscoring touch, Alex Hleb was been his mesmeric self, while Mathieu Flamini continues his seemingly unstoppable form. Of course, the unfortunate Eduardo continued his blossoming into the fabric of the Arsenal side, scoring what was undoubtedly our goal of the month against Manchester City, as well as being the only outfield player who gave two hoots at Old Trafford.
However, this month`s award goes to possibly the only player who has been in my thoughts for the accolade every single month this season. Not only a testament to his consistency and form, but to his fitness as well. Unfortunately, Gael Clichy blotted his copybook with two foolish errors in the month of February, but no such accusation can be made at my winner Bacary 'Banger` Sagna. I was always a big fan of 'Ralph` Lauren, but with Sagna and Clichy manning the full back positions, we have probably the best full back combination since Dixon and Winterburn. Sagna has impressed everybody this season with his boundless energy reserves and with the impressive speed with which he has acclimatised to the English game. Consistency is a stock in trade for any quality full back, and I cannot really remember the tarantula headed one having too many bad games. Surely his discovery must make him a viable contender for signing of the season (though lord knows where Liverpool would be without Torres). For an example of how important full backs can be, please revisit our 4-0 mauling at Old Trafford!
Of course, the fact that Banger missed that particular game counts hugely in his favour! I think we are all aware of the circumstances of him missing the United match, and his mental strength must be commended in a trying time for him. But please don`t think that this award is a patronising gesture of sympathy, Banger has once again been in inspired form. Early in the month at Eastlands, he tore City apart on the right flank, perpetually bombing forward and setting up an Adebayor brace. In the Blackburn home game, it was his early industry on the right flank that won Arsenal a vital corner from which they scored. His energy that night left Rovers left back Khizanishvili with a bad case of twisted blood. Days after personal tragedy, Sagna and Eboue caused the Rossoneri to deploy three different left backs in the 90 minutes in an attempt to nullify them. Once again at Birmingham, Sagna was his usual industrious self, supplementing attack in one instant, before being on hand to snuff out opposing attacks in the next. The Gunners have conceded three goals this month when Sagna has played, two of which were undeniably down to Clichy, the other of which was a set piece. Glance at the itenary of left sided opponents he has faced this month, Petrov, Ball, Berner, Khizanishvili, Kaladze, Maldini, Jankulovski, Seedorf, Kaka, Murphy, Kapo. Did one of those players make an offensive impression upon us? Yet in his absence, Nani tore us apart. Had Sagna played that match, I very much doubt Nani would have been allowed to cavort down the left flank with the ball perched on his nose. His ability in the air and comfort in the transition between attack and defence have been pivotal in Arsenal`s transition. With Ashley Young coming to town next week, we`ll need him to be his usual self again next week. I don`t doubt that he will be.LD.