LONDON // Bacary Sagna, the Arsenal defender, does not expect a shift in footballing power in north London next season, even though Tottenham have claimed a place in next season's Champions League and could even overtake their rivals if results go their way today.
Sagna, 27, is confident that Arsenal can put another season of disappointment behind. Arsenal will confirm a third-place finish - and a spot in the group stage of the Champions League - with a draw against Fulham at the Emirates Stadium today. But Sagna said they will be spurred on to do better by their failure this season. "It's always a big disappointment when you don't win a trophy," he said. "As a player you just want to be successful and when you come so close and don't then you can't be happy.
"We have to make it right next time. I still think Arsenal are one of the best clubs in England and will be in the future. "Sometimes people outside don't understand, but I am with this team and I know we give 100 per cent and how much we want to win trophies. Criticism makes people stronger and it will make us stronger." Losing all four league games to title challengers Chelsea and Manchester United proved significant.
Sagna called for "more focus in these important games", but said there were no doubts about the commitment of the players or the manager, Arsene Wenger. "He's done a lot for the team in the past, and he still wants to do a lot for the future," added the French international. "The manager could have left last year to Real Madrid and he stayed because he loves Arsenal and he wants to build a great team.
"People want Arsenal to spend money like the other teams, but that's not always the right way. "I don't think people always appreciate how good he [Wenger] is. He is the first one disappointed when we lose. He wants us to win all the games." Speculation continues about the future of Arsenal's key men, such as Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie and Sagna, who has been linked with Inter Milan and Juventus.
But with the expected summer arrival of Marouane Chamakh, the Bordeaux striker, on a free transfer Sagna added: "We are very close to being the team we want to be. "If this team stays together we can do something special. You never know what can happen in football, but everyone is happy today at Arsenal. "We want to finish third and look forward to winning something next season. "Marouane will be suited to English football. He likes contact, he likes to fight and he's not scared - that's the most important thing here. He is good in the air, but technically good, too. He is a hard worker and the fans will appreciate him."
Arsenal Soccer Schools Dubai is open to boys and girls, with classes in both Arabic and English. All programmes have been developed based on techniques used by Arsene Wenger. For more information visit www.arsenalsoccerschoolsdubai.com or call +971 4 809 6679. Arsenal v Fulham, 7pm, Showsports 4