From Red and White to Les Bleus: The troubles of Arsenal’s French stars

Talking about relationship between French
players and Arsenal is, obviously, not a trivial thing, especially for froggy
fans like me. Since recent decades, a lot of shining stars, and a bright
manager, travelled across the channel to dedicate their talent for Arsenal
glory.

Today, for most British and non-French fans, I’ve no doubt that vision
of French players is very positive. But my beloved English readers would be
surprise to know how French fans are considering their fellow players who
decided to play for Arsenal while being part of Les Bleus. Let’s say it’s not
always easy to play in a foreign club, and especially Arsenal, a club who have received
as much recognition as criticism from France.

Three players are part (regular player speaking) of both French Team and
Arsenal: Laurent Koscielny, Olivier Giroud and Bacary Sagna. Since Didier
Deschamps has taken charge of the team, he has always put his confidence in those
three, at least when fit. Seeking for defensive experience, France’s boss put
Kos’ on his regular backline, trying to emulate (with success) youngsters Mamadou
Sakho or Raphael Varane. On the same view, from the first day of his return of
injury, Deschamps put Sagna on his list without hesitation. Still, Giroud seems
to be a sub behind Karim Benzema, despite an important late-goal against Spain
in a World Cup qualification game. But Olivier has definitely been in the French
group for two years.

Surprisingly, Deschamps had to fight to make those choices reliable,
especially concerning Kos’ and Baky, struggling to convince French press and
fans. For plenty of them, Koscielny’s performances run around few points: 2011
Carling Cup final, own goals against Blackburn Rovers and Liverpool, red card
against Manchester City. Period. Let’s add the guy went in Premier League after
only one season in French Ligue 1, which is not made to please local fans, and
you can say Laurent couldn’t be the best centre-back in French fans’ minds.
Fortunately, Kos decided to be the boss, and his amazing performances in first
part of 2013 put the lights on him, changing people’s mind.

Sagna’s case was a bit more complicated, due to huge injuries Baky has had
a mixed two years. Before that, the player harshly appeared as a logical
regular, despite being at a top club like Arsenal. Coming the time of the call
by Deschamps, after Sagna’s last recovery, and the French boss has had to face
questions and doubt about this choice. “Do you call Sagna as a gift to a player
who is no longer international material?” was the main question coming from the
French presser “L’Equipe”, reflecting people’s mind. However, Baky kept his
place with “Les Bleus”. Like for Koscielny, Didier Deschamps praised his
“dedication, consistency and involvement”, and people stopped moaning, and
finally admitted the need of such a player.

Yes, it’s true to say French player of Arsenal were, and still are, in a
fight against their own fellows. Even Thierry Henry was, as Philipe Auclair’s
“Lonely at the Top” biography describes. Henry went away from Europe, but
mostly from France, hardly spoke for a magazine or a French TV for several
years now. This is how French fans of football make their fellow players to
repay the glory they gained in a foreign country. So, as you see, Arsenal’s
glory is so precious and important you have to repay for it in a hard way.
Fortunately, our love and admiration for these players are important too. And,
most important, this love and admiration are undying

That’s all for this blog, hope you enjoyed it. Don’t forget to take a
look to our new Gunner Yaya Sanogo today, playing in the U20 World Cup semi-finals
on his road to glory.

Vincent
Fabre


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