"Come for the camaraderie," I tweeted with a typo I've only just discovered, "stay for our ramshackle defensive options!"
That was the invitation for Charleston Gooners to come watch Arsenal's visit to the Stadium of Light for Stoke Part II: The Wrath of Sunderland. That is how dire our situation at the back was, how slim our options were. How had we let Djourou go out on loan without bringing in another center back? A knock to any of Per, Kos, or Verm would leave us dangling on the precipice of Squillaci Time, and the captain was already out injured. Little did I know when I sent this tweet that Kos would pull up gimpy while warming up before kick off, forcing us into an all the more make-shift configuration than I had previously imagined.
Paradoxically, I stated out loud before the match, without having so much as a drop of Scotch crossing my lips beforehand (that came later), "I can't see Sagna wearing an Arsenal shirt next year." This was a statement born from the frustration of watching a great player who appeared to not have his heart in it anymore.
We've seen the dip in form before from disillusioned players longing for greener pastures, new challenges, trophies, bigger pay packets, chrome-clad Aston Martins. It was all too easy to lump Sagna in with that lot, given the poor displays we've had on offer recently from him and the poor record we have had (until very recently) of hanging on to players.
(As long as I'm coming clean, that morning I made a similar statement about Vermaelen not returning for next season. The captain's armband is cursed! Paddy - 3 years and sold; Henry - 2 years and sold; Gallas - tantrum, stripped, and sold (why not Gilberto?); Cesc - nearly 3 years and sold; van Mercenary - a year, sold, and good riddance.)
Back to Bac: all Sagna proceeded to do for 90+ minutes was put in a dominant shift at center half. He made a believer out of me all over again. I should try to sell off our players more often. Or, I should probably learn to keep my mouth shut. Could Bac've found a new home, allowing Jenko and perhaps Nico a chance to make their marks?
Jenkinson answered my question by earning two yellow cards. Not quite yet, then?
Since this dismissal ended up causing no real immediate harm (other than logarithmically compounding our defensive selection headaches), I can say that I'm glad it happened because it gave Rambo a chance to, yet again, accept an unfamiliar role for the good of the team by slotting into right-back. Aaron gets a lot of grief for some reason; I see a player who gives his all, without complaints, when there is a job to be done. We could stand to have a few more players on the team like that.
Right. Blackburn this weekend in the FA Cup and Bayern Munich midweek next. With Nacho CL cup-tied, Santos at Gremio, Djourou at Hannover, Gibbs still injured, Vermaelen still injured (?), Kos still injured (?), and Jenkinson serving out his suspension (did i cover it all?), the composition of our back four for these two matches will be quite interesting. I look forward to eating my words again.