Arsenal's Bacary Sagna lies injured on the ground during the Barclays Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 5, 2012. See PA story SOCCER Arsenal. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. Maximum 45 images during a match. No video emulation or promotion as 'live'. No use in games, competitions, merchandise, betting or single club/player services. No use with unofficial audio, video, data, fixtures or club/league logos.
Monday, October 15, 2012
Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna is backing his team-mates to mount a strong Premier League title challenge – but is not quite ready to be reacquainted with Norwich City in the next stage of it.
The France international full-back has painful memories of his last encounter with the Canaries, suffering a fractured leg in the 3-3 draw at the Emirates Stadium in May. It was his second such injury in the space of a year and one that ruled him out of Euro 2012.
Sagna, who at the time accused City’s Bradley Johnson of deliberately stamping on him moments before he broke down – a claim not backed up by replays – is already on the comeback trail after playing for an hour in Arsenal Under-21s’ 2-0 victory over Reading at Barnet last week, but is likely to need a couple more outings before making a first team return, so the Gunners’ visit to Carrow Road for Saturday’s televised late kick-off (5.30pm) will probably come too soon.
However, Sagna – who has yet to agree a contract extension and has been linked with a January move to Inter Milan – feels Arsenal can launch a sustained challenge for their first Premier League title since 2004.
He said: “We have been solid. I think we can win the league – we have to take it step by step, but we have the quality necessary to play until the end of the season and win.”
After coming through an hour at Underhill, Sagna said he was eager to step up his rehabilitation.
“It is amazing to be back, I have been waiting for this moment for five months,” he told Arsenal Player. “This was my target – to come back and play, firstly for the under-21 team
“When you have such a big injury once, you take it, but twice is hard. In my mind I was a bit sad, but the next day I was ready for the challenge, which was to come back stronger and I am in a good way today.
“I spent some time in the rehab centre, then I came back and worked really hard with the fitness coach and the physios to be ready to play – and finally I have.
➞ turn to Page 55
➞ from back page
“I don’t have any target – my only aim is to be ready and bring what I can to my team, to give 100 per cent, like always.”
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is hoping Abou Diaby will be fit to return after the international break following his latest muscular injury. England international Jack Wilshere is also close to a comeback.
The 20-year-old has been out for more than a year with a combination of ankle and knee problems but also came through the under-21 game against Reading.
During his visit to Norwich, England Under-21 boss Stuart Pearce revealed: “Jack’s not a million miles away from full fitness, that’s for sure. We just wish him well. The important thing for Jack at the moment is to get himself fit and get himself fit for Arsenal.”
Arsenal recovered from the disappointment of a 2-1 home defeat by Premier League leaders Chelsea to go into the international break on the back of a battling 3-1 win at West Ham which leaves them in touch with the chasing pack.