Bacary Sagna demands Arsenal focus on Fulham match

The Gunners returned to winning ways in midweek with victory over Fenerbahce

Bacary Sagna has called on his Arsenal team-mates to quickly turn their attentions from Champions League success to getting their Barclays Premier League campaign up and running at Fulham on Saturday.

Arsene Wenger's men answered their critics in the best way possible by taking a huge step towards securing a place in the lucrative group stages of Europe's elite competition once again with an impressive 3-0 play-off first leg win at Fenerbahce.

There is, however, little time for the Gunners to revel in that achievement ahead of a televised lunchtime encounter at Craven Cottage, where Arsenal will be out to banish memories of their opening-day nightmare defeat at home to Aston Villa.

"We knew it was a big game and that we had to perform," said full-back Sagna, who could move to the centre of defence to cover for the suspended Laurent Koscielny, the France defender who suffered a head wound in Turkey.

"We did it well so now we have to think about Saturday at Fulham.

"The pressure was here because we know it is very important for the club to qualify for the Champions League, also for the players as well and the fans.

"Arsenal are used to qualifying for the Champions League for many years now so want to do it.

"We are in good shape now, but we have to be professional as we play this weekend."

Full-back Kieran Gibbs set Arsenal on their way to victory with a goal at the start of the second half, before Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud secured a comfortable lead ahead of the return leg in London next week.

Gibbs believes the Gunners can use the result as a springboard for the challenges ahead.

"In terms of putting us in a good position, it [the win] has given us a bit of togetherness," he said.

"I think people have seen now what the team is capable of and we have to take this now into the [rest] of the season."

Wenger, meanwhile, may have ruled out going back in for Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, but the Arsenal manager revealed he expects the stakes in transfer "poker" to be upped over the closing 10 days of the window.

Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye and Real Madrid's Karim Benzema are both reported targets as Wenger looks to dip into the £70million Emirates Stadium warchest ahead of the September 2 deadline.

Midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain suffered a knee injury against Aston Villa which could sideline him for up to three months.

However, Wenger hopes captain Thomas Vermaelen will soon be in contention again following his back problem.

"He is out running. He's on the pitches again, but there's still a good few weeks to go for him to get his fitness," the Arsenal boss said.

"We have Nacho (Monreal) back and Thomas soon back so that's all good news for us."

Wenger does not expect Koscielny to be set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines, but the defender will not feature at Fulham because of his red card against Villa last weekend.

"He is like a boxer who had a hard fight the night before; lots of blood around his eye and a deep cut," Wenger said.

"He is suspended for Saturday anyway, but let's hope he recovers for next Tuesday [second leg against Fenerbahce].

"It will be short because the cut is very deep. Hopefully it will be alright."

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz