The Frenchman has reflected on the reasons for his side’s serious slump almost a decade ago following a Wembley defeat to Birmingham City
Former Arsenal man Bacary Sagna has admitted that the Gunners “under-evaluated” their own skill during the 2010-11 campaign – and that their low self-esteem cost them success on multiple fronts.
Arsene Wenger’s side looked well-positioned to challenge for both the Premier League title and domestic success in knockout football at the turn of the year, locked in a battle with Manchester United and Manchester City near the summit of English football.
But a shock defeat to Birmingham City in the final of the League Cup at the end of February precipitated a series of crunch clash slip-ups, subsequently falling out of contention in both the FA Cup and the Champions League in the space of five days in early March and just two wins in their last 11 top-flight matches sinking their aspirations.
Speaking on the Gunners’ In Lockdown Podcast , Sagna – who would go on to lift the League Cup with Manchester City five years later – has opened up on the season’s shortcomings, revealing that he felt he and his team-mates should have held themselves in higher regard.
“We just played game by game and we were winning a lot but obviously and eventually when we had to perform in certain games, we were failing,” he stated . “Maybe it was because we put too much pressure on ourselves.
“Most of the games we had to play, we played well and we won. But for example when we had to play against the top four, we found it difficult to play against them at that time.
“I believe we under-evaluated ourselves. Playing for Chelsea image-wise was something different. They used their image a lot, they used to have some big players in the national team and we used to talk about them more than they talked about us.
“Maybe in our heads, they were bigger players than us. On the pitch, we had as much quality as they had whenever we played, and when we played the Arsenal way nobody could beat us.
“I believed nobody could beat us. We used to play simple passes, one, two-touches maximum. But I believe we under-evaluated ourselves which is a big mistake in life.”
Sagna also opened up on the injury sustained by Eduardo against Birmingham in a 2008 Premier League encounter, when the Croatia international had his leg broke n by Martin Taylor.
Much as defeat to City three years later would derail their ambitions, the incident effectively played a key role in crippling Arsenal’s title pursuit again, with Manchester United ultimately claiming the crown.
“It was a shock to everyone,” the Frenchman added . “We were shocked because Eduardo was our brother and when someone gets hurt, everyone gets hurt.
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“I don’t know if it had an impact on the rest of the game, but for sure it was a turning point in our season.
“That season, every time he was in front of goal, he used to score. He was so confident. We stick together and we fight together. When you lose someone, back in the day we were young and maybe we didn’t know how to deal with these kinds of injuries.
“For most of us, it was the first time of seeing it live. We had to be able to separate feelings and work, but as I said before we’re only humans. It was just a bad day, a bad memory.”