By Richard Clarke
Bacary Sagna will not even consider the possibility that Arsenal may end the season empty-handed.
On Wednesday night, Arsenal were knocked out of the Champions League by Barcelona. Ten days earlier they had lost to Birmingham in the last minute of Carling Cup Final.
They were bitter blows to a season that had promised so much but Arsène Wenger’s side are still very much in the hunt for the Premier League and FA Cup. Saturday’s Sixth Round tie at Manchester United is now seen as key to the campaign but, for Sagna, the season is half-full not half-empty.
“We have to be strong now because we want to be successful,” said the Frenchman. “We have to fight for the team, for the fans and everyone.
“I am not thinking about [the possibility of winning nothing]. I am confident and looking forward to winning something. We have to bring something back because we have the quality to do it and we need to do it.
“We are ready to fight because we are even more frustrated after what happened against Barcelona and we want to give more. Everyone is disappointed but we want to bounce back. We are playing again on Saturday and it will be another big game. We just want to go there and play our football.”
The statistics say that Barcelona dominated Tuesday’s tie against Arsenal. But the most important number – the aggregate scoreline – see-sawed throughout the night and the visitors might still have stolen the tie if Nicklas Bendtner had converted an injury-time opportunity.
But, like most Arsenal observers, Sagna thought the dismissal of Robin van Persie made the difference.
“We defended well as a team,” said the full back. “At 11 v 11 it was already difficult but after [the red card] it was impossible.
“There is not a big gap between us. They played at home so they had the ball most of the time but we needed to defend as a team like Inter Milan did last year. Conceding the goal just before half-time was bad for us – we had to come back – we did but that was not enough.
“Still we can learn a lot from them, they kept passing the ball well. We have to think about the way they played and it must be an inspiration for us.”Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 9 Mar 2011