Nasri's instinctive courage and shooting ability will take Arsenal to a higher level
When Arsenal signed Samir Nasri in the summer, I looked at YouTube videos of the young play-maker and the number one observation I made was that we had signed a replacement to the frustratingly shot-shy Alexander Hleb who didn't appear afraid to shoot.
In fact, according to my limited summer analysis, we had signed an attacking play-maker who was not just willing and able to shoot hard from outside of the box - but was willing and able to do so with BOTH feet.
This gave me a lot of hope that we had signed a player who could draw a veil over the shot-cautious time of Hleb and move attacking Arsenal into an even more positive direction; moving this third generation team closer to success.
And after some promising performances and contributions - including a crucial twenty yard drive against Everton that equalised the match - we saw the difference made by Nasri over Hleb in the thrilling Arsenal v Man Utd match on Saturday.
On 22 minutes Nasri found himself twenty yards out with the ball on his less-dominant left foot but showed no caution in driving through it with great velocity that skimmed the leg of Gary Neville and on into the net for a crucial lead.
Then on 48 minutes after an extensive Arsenal passing move which saw an excellent body-turn and through ball by Fabregas and a superb decoy run by Theo Walcott, the young French-Algerian found himself 22 yards out and now on his dominant right-foot again showed no caution but rather massive intent in blasting a clean ball-strike which flew like a rocket past the helpless Van Der Saar.
The celebration of a player for me is always a good indicator of his character and temperament. And I really liked what I saw from Nasri! Wheeling away, lapping up the celebration of the crowd demonstrating he was really attuned with the big-match atmosphere, I felt that I was watching a player who has the internal burning passion and big-match confidence to be a fantastic acqusition for Arsenal.
It is my strong belief that Alex Hleb would not have scored Nasri's goals on Saturday. He would have looked for a pass in the first goal and I don't think he would have found have unhesitantly struck a shot for the second goal. I don't even think we would have seen the same passion and intent in the goal celebration.
This does not mean that I want to undermine Hleb's contributions to AFC: as I wrote back in the summer I liked watching Hleb's close control and effort but given his indecisiveness around the box I felt I would enjoy watching him far more in the Barca shirt.
Saturday's performance by Nasri vindicated this instinct.
Nasri does not just have great shooting decisiveness and ability around the box. His ball dribbling and composure on the ball when surrounded by opponents is very similar to that of Fabregas - and for me that means it is of massive quality. He also displays very good body-strength when up against stronger opponents as seen on Saturday when tussling with and beating Nemanja Vidic, plus he has impressive passing ability as displayed by his outstanding outside of the foot forty yard pass to Bentdner deep in the match.
If there were any doubters of 21 year old Samir Nasri before the Man Utd match they should be in a period of re-assessment. For me he has aspects of Joe Cole and Cesc Fabregas in his play - plus a big-match temperament and fighting spirit in his character reminiscent of another French-Algerian player who was the world's best in his prime.