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Thursday, November 13, 2008

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.


Anonymous tom14 said...

Its not a question of Nasri or Hleb, its Walcott or Hleb. And Hleb wins that battle every day of the week.

Nasri has replaced Rosicky in the team and is doing fine. Walcott, however, is so defensivley suspect that we have to play Diaby in a five man midfield and does not even do enough going forward to justify his inclusion.

The sooner we start playing Diaby on the right, the sooner we will play better.

And Hleb had a great influence on our team last season. Much more than Walcott will have on us this year.

11/13/2008 11:48 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dont think we can compare a winger with a central midfielder. By comparing Walcot and Diaby is cmparing apple with orange. Diaby don't really play well on the wing especially when playing against strong opposition whereas walcot's speed has been a threat to opposition this season. Its true that he cant defend as well but neither Helb defend well too and walcot will eventually be a out and out attacking stricker. :) Just my 2 cents worth of comments

11/14/2008 1:42 am

Anonymous Tom14 said...

Yes, boring and stupid comments. But its ok, we know that most football fans are thick.

11/14/2008 1:58 am

Blogger khoune said...

Nasri is the very sharp shooter, I would be very happy to see if RvP,Walcott and Bendtner do either as well as Nasri to avoid lost such to Hull ,Stoke and Fulam.

11/14/2008 3:12 am

Anonymous Nturtle said...

@ Tom14 - Unfortunately, it is only "boring and stupid" when you don't respect the opinion of other people, which you have done so re: Anon's comments. We're here to share a view - there is no right or wrong so it's not necessary to be holier than thou.

Personally, Nasri has been quite a revelation in terms of direct shooting...and I think it is rubbing off on the rest of the team. Sometimes it is definitely hard to tell if he is himself...or fabregas in terms of style as well, passing, etc. It would be a shame if he were ONLY stuck on the he looks like a great No.10, and incidentally against ManU...the 5 man-midfield had really good rotation and variation - everyone was everywhere...and Diaby, Nasri really showed a bit more of themselves than just being stuck to the sides.

I'm disappointed that Vela isn't more of a dribbler, given that he was used in the past at Osasuna as a winger etc - he's not had much of a chance I guess, and I would have thought if Nasri were injured, I'd bring the Mexican in, instead of Diaby who is a little more defensive. So I'm hoping to see Vela spell Nasri a bit more as well...but he's so good up front, he'll be suporting Eduardo I suspect as a sub.

Anyway, I really hope Nasri stays fit and gives us that inertia and a few more goals! I'm dead impressed with his two-footedness, and he plays just as well on either wing.

11/14/2008 6:40 am

Blogger T said...

Thanks for the comments - and agree with nturtle (good to have your comments!) that it's not good to read comments that needlessly disrespect another's - hopefully just a one-off because you raised good points in your first comment.

I agree with anon on Diaby and I am definitely sharing Nturtle's on the hopeful impact of Nasri on the rest of the team. Good behaviour and examples have the potential to be infectious and that's kind of the gist of my article... that the shot-shy nature of Hleb which looked to reflect the team at times can be replaced by a more killer-instinct approach as shown by Nasri.

Nurtle - you raise a really interesting Q re Nasri's ultimate position - will he stay on the left when Rosicky returns or will he be moved inside to a number 10 central role like the position he found himself in for the second goal against Man Utd. He looks able to play anywhere across the pitch- and Arsene needs to think about how to maximise the team and perfomance of Nasri when Rosicky returns.

Must be said there are so many options open to Arsene as to how to mould his team - and I think the potential is just about there (esp when Rosicky returns) to create a hugely exciting, well balanced and explosive team that can be the force that we have been waiting for since the dismantling of the 2nd gen team.

Many times Arsene gets it right... but sometimes he doesn't as in against Sunderland when RVP played out left and Cesc was in the hole.... hopefully we'll never see that again and if we do I'll have to write about it here.

11/14/2008 3:15 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry guys but there is such a thing as a stupid opinion. He had one. There is a right and wrong. It needed to be said.

Hleb defended a LOT more than Walcott and was a great winger. Diaby would also make a better Hleb-type winger

11/14/2008 5:36 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, I would love to see






11/14/2008 5:38 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

To Tom14 above, if you continue to take ignorancy such as your comment to voice your opinion, you will continue to remain blinded to true actuality. Most football fans are thick? Where on this earth could you make up such a statement from? On the basis of what?

No, it didnt need to be said unless one had an overwhelming urge to be stupid. It was neither accurate nor warranted, and to say otherwise is just as stupid. Read it, it says one can insult the opinion of others by merely throwing down a few words of meaningless and not backing it up with facts. We would all be suffering under severe comprehension if that is to be the core of debate and discussion. Goodness me.

As for Nasri, I'm still sceptical of his impact at Arsenal. He is young and is still fresh but I think he can pick up from the likes of Fabregas, Toure, Denilson, Clichy and gel into the solid up-n-coming unit. It seems that Arsenal could have overcome that sea wave of complacency, something which can happen early in a season and then disappear. the return of Adebayor and RVP on a regular basis, and I don't see there being another 'glitch' this season.


11/15/2008 2:20 am


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