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?
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

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee