Writer: Tim Stillman
Date:Thursday September 4 2008
August is the most difficult month to decide on a player of the month. Players are still getting into their stride following pre season, some are still recovering from the exertions of an international tournament, others are unwisely rushed back due to an insufficient squad and end up predictably tweaking hamstrings in training. Some are still feeling heat from the supporters after a summer of grotesque flirting with other clubs. For the large part, signs of rustiness have been prevalent this season so far, nervous wins over West Brom and Twente were swiftly followed by the aberration in South West London. A further thrashing of Twente and a consummate performance against Newcastle showed the Gunners just hitting their stride in time for another break for pointless internationals.
The usual suspects have been a little off kilter this month, Adebayor is still fine tuning, Sagna and Clichy have been their consistent selves, but for below par displays at Fulham. Clichy merely had an off day; Sagna was exposed by having Walcott on the wing, a trend we will have to endure regularly now that Eboue is apparently a central midfielder, making Walcott first choice on the flank. Toure and Fabregas have been rushed back from ill health and fitness (which suggests the manager isn`t as confident in his squad players as he leads us to believe). Almunia has been largely untroubled, but van Persie has managed to pick up two injuries so I guess some things never change. In fact, reflecting on it I guess the decision for this award has been pretty simple. Really it boils down to a choice between two. Emmanuel Eboue has started the season reasonably well, though I still think he was positionally poor against West Brom. He did not play brilliantly at Fulham either; the difference was that he tried his hardest, which sadly put him in a very small minority of Arsenal players that day. In even an average Arsenal performance I doubt his good intentions would have been quite so elucidated. An impressive cameo on the right wing against Twente and his display on the flank against Newcastle were genuinely very positive, he demonstrated something we hadn`t really seen since he assumed that position which was a bit of end product in the final third. His backheel for van Persie`s second against the Barcodes stands out in particular. It seems he may have just got used to the rigours of playing on the right wing, so of course we`re going to move him into central midfield now so he can take another year to get used to that. Excellent.
Really there could only be one winner, Samir Nasri has blended in effortlessly with our style of play, showing intent to move infield and get involved to inflict damage on opposition defences. He is almost impossible to pick up for opposition defenders drifting as he does. I`m not sure if Clichy and Nasri have played together at international level, but they seem to have struck up an instant rapport, implicitly trusting one another`s abilities. Nasri knows he can carry the ball in field and that Clichy will be making up the width with his tireless running. His career of course got off to the perfect start with a debut goal, a decisive one too, just four minutes into his first match he ghosted into the box undetected, again trusting Clichy to man the flank in his absence. He managed a smart goal against Twente with a delicious dummy. Again having taken the plunge to come in field and play. We did not look overly likely to cause any damage to Fulham, but you felt he was the only person who was likely to do any that day. But his most impressive cameo for me so far was his part in Denilson`s goal against Newcastle, with the ball in his possession in the box and four Geordie defenders surrounding him, Nasri could easily have thrashed the ball at goal and hoped. But instead he showed calm and intelligence, waiting for Adebayor to arrive in the box, with the defence preoccupied with Nasri he was able to feed a liberated Adebayor, a move which ultimately culminated in a goal. The trip on Barton also suggested he is not too keen on being bullied by despicable arsewipes. He`s likely to meet a lot more of them in upcoming trips to Blackburn and Bolton and therein lay the real test. But Nasri is an example of a new signing that has come in, fitted in nicely and ultimately improved the team. You see, it is possible. I can`t really put it any more laconically than that.LD.
Date:Thursday September 4 2008
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