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It's Going To Be A Big Season For....

You may or may not recall that this time last year I produced a trilogy of articles entitled It`s Going To Be A Big Season For…exuding focus onto three first team players who face make or break campaigns. Last summer I focussed on Andrey Arshavin, Abou Diaby and Theo Walcott (doesn`t it always seem like a make or break season for Theo?). Well, I thought to myself, "that seemed to go pretty alright, why not have another bash at it?" So I have. In the first part of the triumvirate, I shall concentrate on the not inconsiderable talents of Samir Nasri. Having dodged something of a bullet by missing out on World Cup selection for a shambles of a France squad this summer, he will feel has a great deal to prove. And he does.

Of course a new international manager, one that doesn`t pick his team based on what the fairies that live in his nasal hair tell him, should reinvigorate Nasri. He is almost certain to be one of the French "scabs" picked for their friendly in August as the French national strikers have been taken down 1980s Thatcher style and are prohibited from playing in the next squad. But Nasri`s first target must be to fulfil his obvious potential at Arsenal. You would be hard pushed to find an Arsenal fan that has any doubts over Nasri`s ability; he has poise on the ball and is rarely anything other than economical in possession. His beguiling dribble and shot against Porto was probably Arsenal`s most aesthetically pleasing goal of last season and it would have surprised nobody that Nasri has the ability to produce such a masterpiece. But that goal also illustrated how much more dangerous Nasri can be when he uses his skill on the edge of opposition areas, as opposed t the edge of the centre circle. Nasri has made no secret of his preference to play through the middle (don`t all creative players want that?) At the tail end of his debut season, he was even trialled as a defensive midfielder until Chelsea ruthlessly exposed what a piece of blue sky thinking that had been.

However, the truth is that while Cesc is still an Arsenal player, Nasri will always have to be content to be one of the wide strikers. Aside from the fact that Cesc is one of the top 3 players in his position in the world, Nasri has not yet shown the ability to split defences in twain with the sort of raking passes Fabregas is capable of. Nasri also doesn`t dart into the box with the same ebullience as the young Spaniard; the captain is part artist, part enforcer. Nasri is definitely the bespectacled, intellectual type of footballer, but not a gravel gutted general. That`s not to say he cannot play through the middle- indeed he has looked very encouraging through there in pre season, but he quite simply can`t have designs on displacing Cesc there, he will only ever be a back up to Fabregas. However, Nasri has featured prominently in the position during pre season and, even given the poverty of the opposition, has excelled. I wonder if the consistent use of Nasri and Wilshere in the central positions suggests Arsene is doing some contingency planning for Cesc`s departure, in the short term he might just be making use of his captain`s extended hiatus by preparing for any injuries. Let`s face it; Wenger would have to be a complete fool not to expect injuries at Arsenal now and given the fact that Fabregas suffered four separate hamstring injuries and a leg break last season, it pays to have a dusty file marked 'Plan B.`

For Nasri, I think the player he could do well to learn from the most, as well as his captain, is the diminutive Russian on the other flank. Arshavin is a player that frustrates people, but for some reason he doesn`t frustrate me so much. I think it`s because he always tries to take a risk, he is always looking for the killer shot or the defence splitting pass. The lines of success when a player takes such risks are fine. A slide rule pass that is cut out by an opposing defender will be met with gasps of exasperation from the crowd. Yet the pass that narrowly evades the defenders toes and hemisects the rearguard draws applause and gasps of admiration. Nasri has the ability to shoot from distance and to slice defences in twain in the final third, but he is too often conservative in possession and chooses the tidy shunt five yards to his left. To become one of Arsenal`s arch unpicker of defensive locks, he needs to take more risks and the pre season signs have been good to this effect I must say. Nasri is now no longer new blood in the Arsenal side, this will be his third season and he is now 23 years old. The time has come for him to step up and be a name on the team sheet that strikes fear into opponents; he needs to emerge as a player that takes responsibility. He has the ability, I`m certain he has the intelligence. I`d really like to see him take his game ten yards further forward, he may start principally as a wide player, but as with Hleb and Arshavin, he needs to develop the intelligence to involve himself and know when to move in from the flank. It`s an art that Robert Pires utterly perfected. He could have worse role models.LD.




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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday July 28 2010

Time: 11:43AM

Your Comments

I think (hope) he'll do it this year. He's close to becoming a great player. His grace on the ball is something I've admired for a long time, he looks so natural with a ball at his feet, it's not something that many players do, but Nasri looks to have real style. Let's hope he can add consistency to his game this year.
Rocky7
He seems to have benefited from missing out on the World Cup, as he has looked very good in his pre-seasons games. On his day, he can be our ' match winner ' and has the ability to ' turn games ' for us. I really that he will blossom this year as he takes on more ' responsibility ' in the team. His goal agaimst Porto shows what he is capable of doing to teams.
Cockney Rich
Nasri was quite adventeurous going forward when he first joined the club but then gradually started tending towards a more conservative style. This pre season, the old swashbuckling style is back and lets hope he keeps that mindset this season. He is a brilliant player with all the skills in the book.
Deltaforce
He's potentially a great player but for Arsenal this season it's all about defence. If we can't stop leaking the goals the other end it doesn't matter that much what our attackers do.
Gooner_Vin
I think this could really be Nasri's season. He's developed really nicely since he came. He's started dictating games now. Look at the successive performances against Porto and Burnley. That Porto goal and the Burnley assist for Fabregas come to mind. Absolute class. I think he's going to put behind his WC disappointment and turn in a stellar performance for us this season.
Eboue=GOD
His problem now is getting into the starting IX, that his why you see him doing what he is doing in pre-season. Once he is past that, he then develops that confidence, then he needs to step up as a match winner like Cesc developed into the last 2 seasons. The same problem Diaby has now. he is first looking to be in the starting IX and impress. This is the stage Song over came last season. Song has all the confidence now, he now has to be a match winner. RVP has passed the Starting IX syndrome, confidence stage, match winner stage and now needs to get past the last stage CONSISTENCY. If we can have 9 players at the consistency stage, we will win the League.
Arseniger
It was beyond insane that Nasri didn't make that WC squad! But oh wait yea Domenech was at the helm
DeonDoolingU4L
Good call LD. Nasri has been solid, without being spectacular over the last 2 seasons. He has the potential to produce magic more often, lets hope that happens this season.
prits
Seems a tad light-weight, although he is graceful on the ball.
Tony Rocky Horror
He & arshavin are the 2 players I'd take off you in a second! Dont know why you're wanting a replacement for cesc when you have this lad.He's taking a backseat until cesc goes then he'll step up.
Chelsea24/7
Disagree TRH. He is one of the most difficult to dispossess of the ball when he has it, even while being graceful.
Naijagunner
Nasri isn't lightweight at all, well not in the sense that he can be bullied easilly. Benayoun, Cesc, Nasri, Modric. All very physically small players, all very difficult to dispossess. He has brilliant balance and the potential to be a real star. As LD says, so far he's only showed that potential in small doses. He would fit in well in the Spanish WC side with his conservative approach in possession of last season. Definitely needs to take more chances, we all saw what can come of it when he does against Porto.
Ozi Gooner
Yeah, Nasri isn't lightweight, I distinctly remember him making a whole nation envious when he gave Joey Barton a good kick in only his third game in England. Hull City tried to intimidate him too and he showed he's not adverse to the dark arts. He picked up a few niggling injuries in his first few months in England but since then he has toughened up and got fitter. However, that's not to say he can't be more forceful, but I think that's mental more than physical. I echo people's confidence here, at the risk of putting a hex on him, if he stays fit, I see him having a great season. I know we're only playing part timers thus far in pre season, but there's something about his demeanour that means business.
Little Dutch
 

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