In a sense he’s been a dream signing — small noise, big impact. It was not a big transfer by today’s standards but he’s shown that he can be a big player. He has impressed everyone with his quality and enthusiasm. He has huge potential and can play in several positions. What I like is that he’s arrived here and adapted to new challenges with the minimum of fuss. — Arsene Wenger on Bacary Sagna
Back in July, when everyone was hoping Wenger would sign a replacement for Thierry Henry, Le Boss shocked everyone by signing a 3rd right back. At the time, Arsenal were using Eboue and Hoyte in that capacity and so, rightly, most Arsenal supporters wondered aloud why Wenger signed this strange looking man and his Venus Williams beads?
No fan now would question that signing. He’s only scored that one goal against Chelsea but he’s managed six assists in all competitions — which is one more goal and four more assists than his wing partner. He’s also kept his nose clean, with three yellows on a stingy 25 fouls. These stats paint the picture of a defender who is solid, challenges well, keeps his head, and goes forward when it makes sense but isn’t reckless.
But Bacary Sanga wins a place in my top 5 not for just being a solid player but for doing it in his first season, and for doing it from day one. The quiet man may one day have us all saying Emmanuel who?
On to the news!
Injury news ahead of tomorrow’s game: no one has recovered. Which means that Sagna, Rosicky, Eduardo, and Almunia are all expected to be out. Only Almunia is “questionable” on that list and faces a fitness test today, which if he fails, might see Lehmann in goal.
You know, I loved Lehmann, no matter how bat-shit insane the man was, he was endearing to me. But some of the stuff he’s been reportedly saying has really tarnished his Arsenal image. I don’t know. I guess this is his last chance to play in front of an Arsenal crowd — sigh.
If he plays I hope he has a really great game and fans ought to give him a standing ovation. After all, he was a huge part of the invincibles.
UPDATE: Lehmann is starting tomorrow as Almunia has failed to recover.
In other news Sepp Blatter plans on circumventing EU rules and UEFA’s wishes and impose an affirmative action quota for Englishmen. Since he doesn’t have any authority to make laws like that, he’s seeking a “gentleman’s agreement” among clubs. I can’t see it happening.
UEFA, on the other hand, wants a much more tenable and sensible approach; set a quota of locally trained players at clubs without any discrimination based on nationality, but even this won’t work. Chelsea, Liverpool, and Man U’s entire business model would collapse if that policy became law.
No, I think that the market is going to have to sort this out. Either that, or Sepp and Michel can get locked in a room and fight it out to the death. Hmmm… I like that option best!
Speaking of UEFA, they have promised to crack down on dangerous play and dissent at Euro 2008. Also, diving, pushing in the penalty area during corners, unruly coaches, mass confrontations, and the people who don’t take a shower before the match and then sit right next to me, I HATE THAT. Seriously, I am playing wait and see with this one. They all sound like good reforms on paper but how they implement them could be disastrous.
And that’s it for today. Tomorrow’s blog will be LIVE FROM DOYLE’S!!! The kickoff is 7am even though the actual match is on Setanta at like 2am or something — what happened to the 3pm kickoffs??? — so, if you’re in town, come on down and meet the bloglebrity in person. That’s me. A bloglebrity. No?
Also, player #4 will be revealed on Sunday, since the game day blog takes up all my energy.
Ok, see you tomorrow.