Arsenal have discovered new resolve, says Sagna
Frenchman cites win at Celtic as evidence of team's trophy-winning credentials
Thursday 20 August 2009
Arsenal's Bacary Sagna believes their impressive conquering of two difficult early-season challenges proves their desire to win trophies.
The Gunners followed up their thumping Premier League triumph against Everton with a 2-0 Champions League play-off win against Celtic on Tuesday night. The 6-1 victory at Goodison Park – where Everton had previously only lost once in 2009 – silenced many of the critics who argued that the loss of Kolo Touré and Emmanuel Adebayor to Manchester City would ensure Arsène Wenger went a fifth season without silverware.
Although Arsenal benefited from two fortunate goals, they then became the first English team to secure an away European win over Celtic since Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest in 1983. Both Liverpool and Manchester United have failed on a couple of occasions since.
Only Barcelona and Dynamo Moscow had beaten Celtic at Parkhead in the Glasgow club's previous 36 European home matches but Wenger's side enjoyed a comfortable second half as they stood up well to the physical test and restricted Celtic to very few chances.
After William Gallas had inadvertently diverted Cesc Fabregas's 43rd-minute free-kick past Artur Boruc, Arsenal could have put the tie well beyond Celtic in the early stages of the second period as they created several good opportunities. In the end, they were thankful for Gary Caldwell turning a Gaël Clichy cross into his own net to give them a two-goal cushion in their quest to reach the Champions League group stages.
But Sagna insists they also had to show resolve to overcome one of the most intimidating atmospheres in football to secure the victory.
"I think the atmosphere is one of the most amazing in Europe and it was great to play in front of those fans," the France international said. "It was hard to stay focused on the pitch. It's difficult to play against this kind of atmosphere. It is one of the most amazing I have ever witnessed. But we did quite well with it."
The 26-year-old added: "The danger was to come here after such a good win and take it easy but we stayed focused and defended as a team and played as a team. We were confident, we want to play good football and achieve some things this season. It was a strange first goal but that's football and I think we deserved the luck."
Arsenal's commanding first-leg lead means they can fully concentrate on Saturday's visit of Portsmouth, but Sagna has warned against complacency ahead of Wednesday's second leg at the Emirates Stadium. "They have a good team with good players and we have to be careful," the former Auxerre defender said. "I like [Aiden] McGeady, he has good tricks but they all like to play good football and are all dangerous. We have to enjoy it but we cannot take it easy."
The Celtic defender Glenn Loovens felt they were too sloppy in possession to deserve anything from the game. "We weren't good enough on the ball," he said. "We didn't give much away, the two goals we conceded were very unlucky and we could have prevented them, but we weren't good enough on the ball so I don't think we deserved anything from this game. We knew they would pressure us straight away when they lose it high up the pitch."
Loovens felt Celtic did not start well in an attacking sense. "We felt we had everything under control so it's a hard pill to swallow," the former Cardiff City defender said. "I don't think we lost confidence. When we had the ball, it wasn't working for us. We were sloppy even with 10-yard passes and that's not normally like us."
The defeat was the second in a row for Celtic at Parkhead following their 1-0 loss to Dynamo Moscow in the previous round. And, although they turned that tie around in impressive fashion in Russia, Loovens admits the Emirates Stadium next Wednesday will be a much tougher task.
"No disrespect to Moscow, but Arsenal are a better team," the 25-year-old said. "It's going to be even more difficult in the second leg but there is still everything to play for and let's hope we score a quick goal."
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