Today, we continue our reviews with a look at Bacary Sagna's 2011-12 season at right back for Arsenal. Sagna's season was limited to 20 League appearances and 28 appearances overall after his leg broke in a challenge from Benoit Assou-Ekotto on October 2nd, an injury that kept him out of the squad until January 29th against Aston Villa (and which also signaled the start of the Great Arsenal Fullback Crisis of 2011-12). From then on, Sagna was more or less a constant fixture on the right until May 5th, when he again suffered a broken leg against Norwich, and injury that will see him miss Euro 2012. In between those injuries, on February 26th, he scored what is almost universally hailed as the goal that turned Arsenal's season around, the goal that pulled Arsenal back to 2-1 at home against Tottenham, the first of five unanswered tallies against Spurs.
Come fly with us after the jump to see how we feel about the be-braided French defender:
Ted: I find it difficult to find much fault with Sagna, honestly. He is a solid, if not mind-melting, presence on the right. I feel you can count the number of sub-par games he had on one hand this year (Wigan, Stoke), and he scored that goal against Spurs. He is a tireless worker, he is scarily in shape, and he is 100% committed. He's also pretty good going forward. He's the type of player that one just doesn't really worry about at this point, which isn't the same thing as saying he couldn't improve if he tried, but on an Arsenal side with dodgy moments all around this year, I'll take it.
Paul: I want to unreservedly love Bacary Sagna, I really do. But I can’t. Why can’t I? Because he’s not stellar. Now, I’m not suggesting that I can only love a player when he’s a world beater, and when he lays waste to all before him. But Sagna…he’s sooooooo close to being that player! His performance in the 5-2 against the North London JV team was amazing, even without the goal – he was strong, sure, and unflappable. He does that about 95% of the time. It’s the other 15% that drops his grade, for me (don’t forget, athletes always give 110%) – he’s not just average in that minority of time, he’s bordering on the terrible. Ibrahimovic toyed with him in Milan (although to be fair, that day was a shambles from everyone connected to Arsenal), and Victor Moses (!) made him look stupid against Wigan. He had some injury issues this year, so maybe if he stays healthy all next year he’ll develop the consistency he needs to take that next step forward and become the truly dominant defender he by rights ought to be.
Aidan: Arguably the most important moment this season was one featuring Bacary Sagna: his headed goal against Tottenham made the gap-minders crap themselves, culminating not only in a 5-2 victory but a total mess up of what had looked like an unassailable 10 point lead. Bacary Sagna has often been excellent this season, and he was dearly missed after breaking his leg against Spurs in October. Towards the end of the campaign, though, tiredness, understandably, seemed to catch up with him. The fact that he went from January to May without picking up a little niggle is a testament to his strength and I fully expect him to make a full recovery from a second broken leg in little over 6 months. If not for that tired period, Sagna would the recipient of an A- grade, but crucial and very avoidable errors against Wigan and Stoke that led to Arsenal conceding goals that made the end of the season rather nervy.