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2014 Arsenal Player Reviews: Bacary Sagna

SPOILER ALERT: It's more a valedictory than a grade.

Remember the good times
Remember the good times
Julian Finney

People everywhere always undervalue defenders.  For some reason, people think defending is easy, and that just throwing a few warm bodies behind the ball is good enough, as long as you have a cadre of attackers that do FIFA tricks in their sleep.  Because everyone has those, right?

I, on the other hand, almost overvalue defense.  The way I look t it, if your opponent scores zero goals, you will win a lot, even if you only score one.  I started watching Arsenal in the days of the Adams/Bould/Keown/Winterburn back line, and watching them every week really gave me an appreciation for what defeders are supposed to do and how they should do it. That line was well-drilled; they all knew where to be and when to be there, and they didn't mess around.  They were just there, in the opponent's face, daring them to pass - and quite often, the opponent did not pass.

Bacary Sagna is a modern defender who is a total throwback; he doesn't try to bomb up the wings much, or try to be a midfield presence.  All he really wants to do is shut down an attack and start an Arsenal move. He does this better than almost any Arsenal defender in the last 10 years; he was instrumental in Arsenal's strong start this season, and despite a few games where he was kind of invisible, he had a pretty amazing year again this year.

He doesn't make a lot of flashy plays, but he also makes very few mistakes, and his bad games were games where everyone else played badly as well, so it's not like a Sagna mistake has ever cost Arsenal a game by itself.  That's a pretty ideal quality for a defender.

As we all know, he's off to pastures (much, much) greener next season.  I wish he would have stayed, but I under$tand why he's £eaving; unlike other Arsenal leavers lately, he leaves quietly, amicably, and with mine and TSF's best wishes for a great rest of his career.  Except when he goes up against Arsenal.