With the transfer window now slammed shut and immediate focus on the high profile outgoings at the club (thanks for the memories Micah and Alvaro) Saturday’s unexpected and disappointing defeat against Stoke saw the debut of another summer purchase, the familiar figure of Bacary Sagna.
Brought in to provide competition for club legend Pablo Zabaleta, Sagna has played with distinction on the right hand side of the Arsenal defence since his arrival in the EPL in 2007. The Frenchman is renowned for his defensive mobility, decent aerial strength and his ability to provide quality deliveries from advanced positions on the right flank. Whilst his performance against Stoke was generally solid, unfortunately he was unable to showcase his talent to the best of his ability.
Much of this was due to his lack of familiarity with his colleagues in terms of his movement and the absence of the type of driving runs beyond defenders that have characterised Zabaleta’s consistently quality displays for the club. At times it appeared Sagna wasn’t quite sure exactly when and were he should look to provide penetrative movement within the City attack and with Edin Dzeko benched in favour of the returning Aguero, there was no clear target in the Stoke penalty area on the occasions when Sagna was able to deliver from wide.
It is to be assumed that with more minutes, Sagna will offer more of an attacking threat, as City’s width is key to breaking down compact blanket defences. By adjusting his game to drive more to the byline, the Frenchman will hopefully be able to offer more potency from the flank, something that was significantly lacking last time out.
I would expect that with the challenge of Arsenal, Bayern Munich and Chelsea in the next three fixtures, Sagna can expect to start at least one of these matches in keeping with Pellegrini's full-back rotation policy (see Kolarov and Clichy). It is to be hoped that the bedding in period is a short one for City’s number 3 and the adjustments to his game can be made so that absence of Zabaleta is not so keenly felt next time he takes to the field.