Our Right Back (RB) position is covered by two players: Sagna and Jenkinson, and young Hector Bellerin and Nico Yennaris are being prepared to play there as well at some point in their careers.
I rate Sagna really highly for his defensive ability, his drive and attitude, and his desire to support our attack continuously. However, I find him pretty ineffective once he has reaches the defensive line of the opposition. He tends to cut inside and hold on to the ball so he can give it to one of our midfield players; by doing so, he often takes the speed out of our attack as well as reducing our width.
Jenkinson is a work a progress and one of those players who gets better the more games he plays. He properly impressed me for the first time when we played Bayern away last season (just like Gibbs did in the same game): there is a good RB in Jenkinson but he still has a lot to learn. When he plays next to Mertesacker he usually is significantly better defensively. The BFG is a great mentor for him and the German’s organisational skills are just what Jenkinson needs at this stage of his career.
I find the Finglishman better going forward than Sagna. He is more inclined to make it to the by-line and put in a cross or cut a ball back to somebody positioned just outside or inside the opposition’s box. This way we keep our width as well as our momentum going. It is fair to say, Jenkinson still needs to improve the quality of his final ball, and that will come with time.
However, defensively Sagna truly is our Mr Reliable, and both his experience and incredible passion for the club, go a long way right now. I hope we will sign him up properly and show him the respect he deserves, especially now he has shown to be a pretty brilliant fall back options for Mertesacker as well.
Sagna should become gradually a squad player rather than automatic first choice for each and every game. He could start a certain number of games during next season and beyond, and function as a reliable back up for a number of defensive positions. The question is whether Jenkinson can start pushing Sagna gradually out of the RB position during this season.
I don’t have a definitive answer to this one. As stated above, I believe that our Gunner and Gooner does get gradually better and better the longer he plays. During his first game(s) after a period on the sidelines he can look rusty and unfocussed. As with most young players, he is quite injury prone which does not help him in his quest for claiming the RB position, and it is also not good for the team, as we need as much consistency as possible in our defensive line-up.
With the club appearing to dither over signing Sagna up for years to come, and Jenkinson not ready to fill the RB post as a regular first starter – and possibly not making the grade, as the jury remains out – the question is what to do next in terms of making the team stronger.
I would love us to sign up Sagna for another three years. He deserves it and it would send out a sign to other players that you can complete your football career at Arsenal: loyalty works both ways after all.
I would like us to keep developing Jenkinson further and see whether he can make it. If by the end of the season Sagna has not been signed up and/or Corporal Jenks has not made significant progress, we should expect Arsene to purchase a new, established RB for the 2014-2015 season.
My money is on the latter to happen, but what do you think Fine Fellow Gooners? 😛
Written by: TotalArsenal.