Belfast Telegraph

Bacary Sagna says Arsenal can hit title target

Bacary Sagna maintains “everyone is ready” for Arsenal's latest title challenge — but warned the Gunners must tighten up at the back if they are to win a first championship since 2004.

The Gunners continued their pre-season campaign with success at the Emirates Cup, which was secured with a 3-2 victory over Celtic, and face Legia Warsaw in Poland on Saturday ahead of the Barclays Premier League opener at Liverpool on August 15.

Arsene Wenger knows full well the importance of a flying start in what looks set to be one of the most eagerly contested title races in recent memory, as big-spending Manchester City aim to gatecrash the party.

However, the Gunners boss is also acutely aware of the need to cut out the lapses in concentration which proved fatal to their aspirations last season — such as when blowing a 2-0 lead in the final 10 minutes at Wigan where victory would have put them back in the championship hunt with just three games left.

Sagna admits such issues must be resolved if Arsenal are to last the distance come May 2011.

“Everyone is ready and personally I cannot wait to play because I know we have a very good team with quality young players who play good football,” said the French defender, who netted his first Arsenal goal during the win over Celtic as the Gunners raced into a 3-0 lead before allowing the visitors back into the match.

“The job is done, but now we just need to work because we had some bad points as well.

“We need to look forward, work on what we have to and just stay focused.

“We need to be more consistent because we were leading 3-0 and we only won 3-2.

“If you remember what happened last year against Wigan, we need to keep playing.

“Maybe we stopped playing because we thought the game was too easy, but that is football now.

“We let Celtic back in because we stopped playing, so we must stay focused. We need to talk more on the pitch and stay together.”

Wenger concedes he needs more cover at centre-half, with Johan Djourou, who missed nearly all of last season with a knee injury, and summer signing Laurent Koscielny the only back-up to Thomas Vermaelen since Sol Campbell decided against taking a one-year extension and William Gallas and Mikael Silvestre also left at the end of their contracts.

Arsenal have been linked with Germany defender Per Mertesacker as well as Everton's Phil Jagielka and Udinese centre-half Cristian Zapata, while Wenger has yet to decide on who his number one will be, with both Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Fabianski playing in the Emirates Cup.

In attack, however, Morocco striker Marouane Chamakh has made a good early impression, the free transfer signing from Bordeaux netting a neat finish against AC Milan.

Sagna said: “He can make the difference because he is a good player, can keep the ball and score great goals. He looks like [Emmanuel] Adebayor — they are both very good in front of goal and it's a good thing for the team.”

While there has been much talk of Arsenal's future, Wenger has yet to agree new terms on a contract extension past June 2011.

Sagna said: “He has done great work at Arsenal and we want to win things for him. I don't know if it will be his last season at Arsenal — we don't have to think about it.”

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