Djourou embraces the view from right-back
The giant claret-coloured sign on the banking at Stade Vélodrome on Wednesday night, proclaiming "Come on you Irons", was not the only surprising banner at Marseilles' stadium. Hoisted on the Arsenal end was the call, "We want Eboué back." This reference to Emmanuel Eboué, who moved to Turkish club Galatasaray in the summer after a mixed six years at Arsenal, could hardly have imbued Carl Jenkinson with confidence. It took on greater significance, however, when Bacary Sagna's understudy limped off with a knee injury leaving Arsenal without a recognised right-back.
In the short term this proved a blessing in disguise for Johan Djourou, the centre-half who filled in on the flank and provided the cross from which Aaron Ramsey clinched Arsenal's 1-0 win. In the medium term, however, with Jenkinson's knee injury expected to rule him out of the weekend at least, when Stoke's Matthew Etherington is in opposition, the absence of a specialist right-back could be problematic.
Djourou hopes he will ensure it is not. "I am a centre-back first but I'm a player who can play in different positions," he said after the Champions League victory. "If I have to play right-back to help the team then I will do it. It's a completely different game. When you play centre-back you can see the whole game in front of you, when you're on the wing you have to adjust a little. I played there before. In 2008 I played in games against Portsmouth and Bolton there. It worked out in Marseilles because I played the final ball for the goal."
If that does not sound overly confident perhaps the memory of his exposure at left-back at Ewood Park in Arsenal's 4-3 defeat last month is too fresh. However, it might be worth him trying to cement a place at full-back. With Per Mertesacker joining, and Laurent Koscielny, who had one of his best games for Arsenal in Marseilles, also ahead of Djourou in the pecking order, the Swiss will be Arsenal's fourth choice central defender when Thomas Vermaelen returns to full fitness.
Having experienced several injuries himself in recent years Djourou added, with feeling: "I just want to play. I love playing football and when I can play it's a relief."
Djourou added that Arsenal would draw confidence from their win in Provence, and a rare clean sheet. "We played a good game and looked solid," he said. "It was good to win in the last minute. It shows that we keep fighting until the end. We showed a lot of character."
The goalscorer highlighted the contribution of Arsenal's oft-criticised back four. Ramsey said: "I felt they were magnificent. It's been a bit harsh blaming the defence as we could have defended better as a team in recent games." He added: "We've not had the greatest of starts but hopefully now we've turned a bit of a corner and we're getting a few wins on the bounce. The confidence is returning."
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