10 May 2014

Sagna's swan-song...or has it already been sung?

What an odd, empty Saturday. No Prem matches to pass the time. In their absence, I caught up on some thumb-twiddling and mumbelty-peg while my offspring begged me to interact with them. Without any proper football to watch, however, and with Sunday' clash with Norwich lacking any real drama beyond Szczesny's quest for a Golden Glove, it's hard to summon the requisite energy. The match feels more like a friendly, maybe even a Sunday league game. At each end, it's likely that we'll see both squads rotate pretty heavily, further fueling the idea that its outcome matters little if at all. Off-the-pitch issues rise to the surface, chief among them the increasing likelihood that Bacary Sagna will leave this summer if his own words are to be believed.

PSG? It's a little bit that way. East of here.
In fact, we may have seen the last of Sagna already unless Carl Jenkinson is otherwise unfit or unavailable. Sagna did well against West Brom, but that might be his swan-song. Without trying to sound disloyal or callous, if he's already preparing for his next move, then so too should we. He certainly speaks like a man with more than one foot out the door:
I am out of contract, as everyone knows. I still consider myself as an Arsenal player at present. But actually we had a small problem to agree and I do not think [I will] stay at Arsenal at the end of the season.
It's a pity that he and the club couldn't agree to terms, as I would have liked very much to see him see out his career at Arsenal. He's among the longest-serving members of the squad, and his experience and understanding of Arsenal, the Prem, and the position would make him a valuable mentor to Jenkinson and whoever else might be brought in (Aurier?). Still, it's hard to refute or criticize his apparent desire for one last, large contract, not to mention a crack at silverware. It is hard to stomach his apparent interest in moving to league-rival. Yes, Man City, can give him the pay-rise he seeks and likely silverware as well, but he'd become a squad-player, sitting behind Zabaleta week in and week out, and that's a demotion that just doesn't sit well with me. I'd much rather play than watch. Then again, I never won anything as a player, so maybe I'm just making a virtue of necessity.

If Sagna's set on leaving, well, we might as well say our fare-wells. Jenkinson, you're up.

If nothing else, starting Jenkinson avoids the awkwardness of Sagna relive the re-break of his leg, which occurred last May when Norwich's Bradley Johnson appeared to stomp it. Sagna was able to get up to rejoin play, but when he went to trap the ball down, he immediately collapsed, holding that same right leg. Whether Johnson stomped him accidentally or deliberately is another question for another day. Before that day arrives, it seems like the best thing to do is to hand the position over to Jenkinson. He'll become our right-back, if only by default, unless and until we can bring in another. He may not be good enough to our full-time, first-choice right-back but has done tolerably well when called upon. If nothing else, the match is so low-stakes that little can go wrong. If he acquits himself, splendid. If he flounders, all the more reason to target a right-back in the summer window.

Back to Sagna. After all, there is one last match to play: the FA Cup final. Does Sagna play? On one hand, it might be a fitting send-off; should we win, it would provide a fine capstone to a very good, at-times great, career. Then again, is it churlish to suggest that his imminent departure should prevent him from fully sharing in the spoils? It's not as if he's pulling a Nasri. Even after he leaves, he'll be remembered fondly for his years of toil. However, ambivalence best-describes my feelings here. Unlike Fabianski, who will also likely leave this summer, Sagna has been the number-one player at his position for almost the entirety of his time here. Fabianski, on the other hand, has had to watch as Szczesny has eclipsed him for club and country. I have no qualms with him playing the FA Cup final. For better or worse, it's become "his" competition. With Sagna, however, I'm not sure where I stand. Would winning the FA Cup commemorate Sagna's seven years of service, or should it announce the arrival of Jenkinson's tenure?