Bacary Sagna has given his backing to his beleaguered former manager, Arsene Wenger, arguing that “he does not deserve what is happening to him”.
Manchester City’s first fixture after the international break is at Arsenal, who are in danger of failing to qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 1997. In the aftermath of their catastrophic defeat at West Bromwich Albion, the atmosphere at the Emirates Stadium on April 2 is likely to be poisonous with Arsenal fans continuing their demonstrations against Wenger being awarded a fresh two-year contract. Manchester City then face Arsenal in the semi-final of the FA Cup, a competition Wenger has won more times than any other modern manager.
Sagna, who spent seven seasons at Arsenal, said that while he could understand the fans’ frustrations, he believes Wenger should remain in charge of the club he has managed for more than 20 years.
Manchester City 1 Liverpool 1 player ratings
Manchester City 1 Liverpool 1 player ratings
1/22 Willy Caballero – 5 out of 10
Had a relatively quiet day – only conceding from Milner’s penalty.
2/22 Gael Clichy – 5 out of 10
He was crashing into challenges, defending bravely and winning every aerial challenge.
3/22 John Stones – 6 out of 10
Made a number of vital interceptions and clearances. Tough defending from the back.
4/22 Nicolas Otamendi – 7 out of 10
Failed to keep up with the City strikers pace, but made up for it with headers and clearances.
5/22 Gael Clichy – 5 out of 10
Gave away the penalty for Milner’s opener. Terrible decision for a man of such experience.
6/22 Yaya Toure – 6 out of 10
He was reading the game well from the middle of the park and opening the defence by spreading the balls wide.
7/22 Raheem Sterling – 6 out of 10
He used the width well, but he needs to be more clinical in front of goal.
8/22 Kevin De Bruyne – 7 out of 10
Deliveries were sublime and he was pumping balls into the forwards continuously. Assist for Aguero was world class.
9/22 David Silva – 7 out of 10
As always, he was picking the ball up and using possession tremendously. He’s quick, skilful and is a nightmare to play against.
10/22 Leroy Sane – 7 out of 10
As always, his pace caused problems for the Liverpool defence and he was an all round nuisance to play against.
11/22 Sergio Aguero – 6 out of 10
His goal levelled the scoring for Guardiola’s side, but he had a hard time today against the Liverpool central defenders.
12/22 Simon Mignolet – 5 out of 10
Made a handful of vital saves, but was beaten by Aguero in the second half.
13/22 Nathaniel Clyne – 6 out of 10
Had a tough afternoon against the pace of Sane, but he held his own and worked well.
14/22 Ragnar Klavan – 6 out of 10
Stuck tight with Matip and this kept Aguero relatively quiet.
15/22 Joel Matip – 6 out of 10
He made a number of crucial interceptions and clearances, but he needs to be careful when giving away fouls.
16/22 James Milner – 7 out of 10
Scored the opener after an encouraging display. He defended well and attacked relentlessly.
17/22 Adam Lallana – 6 out of 10
Defensively there is room for improvement, but going forward he passed well and created a handful of chances.
18/22 Emre Can – 5 out of 10
Was outplayed in the middle of the park at times by City’s midfielders. Needs to improve his aerial game.
19/22 Georginio Wijnaldum – 6 out of 10
Drifted in and out of the game at times. Needs to make more of an impact in the games against bigger clubs.
20/22 Sadio Mane – 8 out of 10
Was Liverpool’s biggest threat going forward – quick, skilful and he oozes confidence.
21/22 Roberto Firmino - 7 out of 10
Was the target for every Liverpool attack and when he received the service – he caused problems.
22/22 Philippe Coutinho – 5 out of 10
His deliveries were poor, particularly from set pieces. Needs to regain the fine form that the fans will be wishing for.
“At the moment I am quite sad for the manager because he doesn’t deserve what’s happening to him,” said the 34-year-old full-back. “He’s a great man and an institution for Arsenal. It’s not fair. Sometimes, you can have difficult moments but he has always been there for the team.”
Nevertheless, with Arsenal having lost six of their previous nine fixtures – two of the wins were against non-league clubs, Sutton and Lincoln, – Sagna understands the deep unease and anger among the clubs supporters.
“I don’t want to say that,” he said when asked if he thought Arsenal supporters had short memories. “Of course, they are disappointed because of the results. Anyone would be with what has happened on the pitch.
“But they have quality players, players who can react, players who are in the Champions League every season. They can beat anyone. They remain good players. Maybe commitment-wise they were not that confident and without that confidence it is difficult to play but they remain a good team and dangerous to play against.”
Although Arsenal have only beaten one member of the top seven – Chelsea in September – Sagna argued the international break would give the club time to regroup before they face Manchester City, who beat them 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium in December.
Whatever happens to Wenger, Sagna said he will always be grateful to the man who brought him to the Premier League from Auxerre a decade ago.
“For life I will be thankful to him because he brought me to England,” he said. “And I will be thankful because, even when I had tough moments, he always showed his trust in me. That’s why it is quite difficult for me to see him in this position – but to me he is the man for this situation at Arsenal.”Reuse content