Sagna’s Milestone and More on Jack Wilshere
The unwanted sets of international fixtures are out of the way and no Arsenal bone was shattered into pieces. Per Mertesacker started in his nation’s bore draw against Holland in Amsterdam ArenA. Many first-team regulars missed out on the game and in my honest opinion, it took its toll on the game as the newbies didn’t do enough. As expected, Spain ran riot against Panama and Olivier Giroud got some game time in France’s 2 – 1 win over Italy.
I’d firmly fixed my focus on the Sweden vs. England game in the newly constructed Friend’s Stadium and brought some entertainment value as Zlatan Ibrahimovic stole in the show in grand style. Wily Ol’ Woy Hodgson fielded a balanced side with Liverpool’s wonderkid…dad, Raheem Sterling getting his full debut.
Joe Hart was uncharacteristically shaky in goal while the fullbacks, Leighton Baines and Glen Johnson bombed down the flanks supporting the attack. With John Terry’s England career done and dusted, Gary Cahill partnered Steven Caulker in the heart of the Three Lions defense.
The midfield had a somewhat unfamiliar look with captain, Steven Gerrard, playing behind Tom Cleverley and Leon Osman. Danny Welbeck was supported by diver-in-chief, Ashley Young and debutant, Raheem Sterling.
Zlatan stabbed in the match opener before Danny Welbeck and Caulker put England in the driver’s seat to end the first half on a high. A second half Ibracadabra hat-trick was enough to give Sweden bragging rights for the night, which also meant that they had successfully revenged their narrow loss to England in the Euros…like it bloody matters.
There was a moment were all Arsenal fans savored as Jack Wilshere made his long awaited comeback into the team when he replaced Cleverley in the second half. Wilshere worked hard on the pitch and was as combative as ever, also getting on the end of some tackles as well.
Before the game, Wilshere took some time out to speak about a couple of things, starting with how he feels stronger with each passing game,
“I’m quite surprised actually. When I first played in the [under-21s], I was really rusty and I think it was clear for everyone to see. Everyone was just being nice to me saying ‘you played well’.
Now I’m feeling better and better as every game goes on and there’s no hiding place when you’re playing at the Emirates, at Old Trafford and you’re in front of everyone. You have to be at a certain standard so you don’t let your team-mates and your fans down.
But I feel good now and hopefully, with a few more games, I can get back to my best.”
It’s really pleasing to see how Wilshere was drafted back into the team, and Arsene Wenger has to be commended for the depth of his squad this season. Even with the setbacks from Abou Diaby and Tomas Rosicky, coupled with Aaron Ramsey’s stuttering form, Arsenal wasn’t pressured into slotting Wilshere straight into the team.
He had to go through a couple of Under-21 games before playing Queens Park Rangers, Manchester United and Schalke. With the maestro serving his suspension last week, he’s odds on to have a starting berth in the feisty North London Derby.
Wilshere also spoke about the transfer dealings made in recent seasons, and he commended his boss’ policy for the club’s latest recruits,
“It is strange because last time I played was with Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Alex Song and Robin van Persie, now there are the likes of Podolski, Giroud, Cazorla and Mikel Arteta. The boss has done excellently. He’s bought well. These players are proper footballers – they understand the game and they’ve been around.
“You look at someone like Lukas Podolski, he’s got over 100 caps for his country. They’re top players and it’s easy to come into a team where they understand football so well. To play with someone like Santi Cazorla is so easy. He understands football, even little things like the pace of the pass he gives you, and his movement is outstanding.”
Arsenal’s latest signings have been brilliant thus far, and their contributions to the team have been unrivalled.
Podolski’s surges on the left have been a breath of fresh air, and he has worked very hard to support his fullback, whether it’s Kieran Gibbs, Andre Santos and more recently, Thomas Vermaelen. He has also been on the score sheet five times, with his latest in that disappointing 3 – 3 draw with Fulham.
Santi Cazorla has been a truly inspired signing, as he brings his creativity, close control, goals, defense-splitting passes and ambidexterity Arsenal’s attack. In these few months, he has fully integrated himself into the nucleus of the team and he’s currently indispensable.
Giroud has finally found his feet at the Emirates and I’m tipping him to go on a great run of goalscoring form. Despite his slow start to the campaign that saw him go on an unpleasant goal drought, Giroud’s work rate has been unquestionable and he kept working hard, till he broke his duck against Coventry.
A lot was expected from Arsenal’s newbies and it’s fair to say that they have delivered, so kudos must go to the man that made it happen, Arsene Wenger.
Still sticking with Wenger’s impressive recruits in recent times, one player has reached a milestone with the club, as he has reached the 5-year mark in his time with Arsenal.
When Wenger delved into the French Ligue 1 to snatch a relatively unknown right back from AJ Auxerre in 2007, many fans were puzzled but they waited patiently to see what Lauren Etame-Biyer’s long-term replacement had to offer.
Shortly after Lauren’s transition out of the team, Farmer Emmanuel Eboue manned the right back position and put up some impressive performances in that position.
Besides having a penchant for diving on the turf faster than the time it takes a man to go hard while watching porn, Eboue has a decent cross on him, and he supplied some assists, with the standout cross being the pass he supplied to van Persie against Charlton in the Valley.
Sagna’s introduction to the team saw Wenger push Eboue further up the pitch but it was widely regarded as a failed experiment. In his first season with the club, his performances were so consistent, that he earned a rightful place in the 2008 PFA 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.
Sagna has stated that his time at Arsenal has been magical,
”It has been magic. I’ve enjoyed a lot playing for Arsenal and I still love it. Every time I go to the pitch, I just give 100 per cent for the team.
“[The Club] is like my family. My personal family is in France but I feel at home here, I feel happy to come training and I feel relaxed. There are not many big clubs where you feel that confident.
“I think I have progressed a lot – that was my target, to come to such a big club and improve.
The fullback has endured a tumultuous year, as he broke his leg twice in the course of last season costing him his place for France in the European Championships. This season, Carl Jenkinson has done well in his stead and the young lad has really matured as a player.
It’s good to have Sagna back in the team and his runs on the right will be important for the Gunners as the season progresses. It’s also heart-warming to know that Arsenal fans can sleep well at night if anything happens to Sagna, as Jenkinson is an able deputy.
Still sticking with tales on right backs, Arsenal’s legendary right back, Lee Dixon has stated that the role of the fullback has evolved and he also believes that Lil’ Jenko and Quickie Gibbsie can learn from each other.
“You have to be a bit more dynamic. You’ve got a bit more license to go forward now. Teams tend to play with two holding midfielders so sometimes the full backs can attack together which is quite dangerous. Sometimes it works though.
“I think full back has become a lot more popular position. Players such as Ashley [Cole] have made that type of dynamic full back play something that kids want to do. You’re all action. You’re in the game constantly.
“That’s why I liked playing there. It’s nice to get a rest now and then. You used to get a rest on the halfway line but they don’t seem to get much rest now.
“It’s important that Gibbs and Jenkinson are both in the side together. They can learn off each other. It’s sometimes good to have a similar type of player who is around the same age in the team”.
Dixon also spoke about how he and Nigel Winterburn was a pair, even though they were in opposite flanks. The future of Arsenal’s fullback positions is in safe hands and it’s also good to know that these positions are manned by English youngsters that will have stints in the National team for years to come.
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