Arsenal’s versatile defender Bacary Sagna produced a stellar performance this weekend, his best yet for some time, after being deployed centrally in defence due to Laurent Koscielny’s last minute withdrawal in the warm up prior to the Sunderland fixture. This begs the question, is he now a viable option as an Arsenal’s centre half?
Paired with the slow but experienced Per Mertesacker the Frenchman added pace and determination to the backline that managed to keep out Sunderland’s persistent attacks in the final stages of Saturday’s match. He put his body on the line, made crucial tackles, distributed well and also defended fantastically in the air.
Arsene Wenger certainly has options in the heart of the defence with Thomas Vermaelen, Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker automatic selections when fit, however with Johan Djourou on loan to Hannover and perhaps unlikely to return, Sagna’s versatility will be welcomed by Wenger as his importance as a member of the squad grows.
Which leads to the next point – his contract will need to be renewed with his current terms set to expire in June 2014. Gooners were starting to grow frustrated with the natural right back but playing centrally over the weekend helped Sagna reinstate faith in him as an experienced defensive enforcer. With Jenkinson the only other ‘senior’ right footed full back renewing Sagna’s contract is now of the uttermost importance unless someone is acquired this summer.
His strong outing on the weekend played a big part in what Wenger described as a resilient and committed performance, and alongside a strong showing from Szczesny and Mertesacker, the defence is looking strong ahead of the vital Cup ties against Blackburn and Bayern Munich over the fortnight, with the options available giving Wenger some food for thought.