Nasri: We can't compete...

Is it me, or is Samir Nasri getting his excuses in early? I only ask as the Frenchman, yet to fulfill his potential at the Arsenal I believe, has been telling the Press that we can’t compete with the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United. Nothing like talking up your chances and breeding a bit of confidence ahead of a vital Champions League game, eh, monsieur?
Nasri told the Sun: “This season we’ve had bad results in big games. We lack experience at the highest level. Teams like United and Chelsea have more experience and can deal with these games.” So pull your bleeding finger out then Samir my old China and, er, compete!
The tabloids are full of our in injury woes this morning and we go into the match tonight with key personnel missing and with Sol Campbell set to start the game alongside TV5 at the heart of our defence. Also missing is Manuel Almunia with Lucasz Fabianksi taking his place. The Daily Mail’s Matt Barlow, not one to overstate the problems (ahem) writes: Porto is no place for the spineless but Arsene Wenger rocked up on Portugal’s wind-battered Atlantic coast without four players who have come to represent the backbone of his Arsenal team this season.
Almunia, William Gallas, Alex Song and Andrey Arshavin are all absent and what seemed an agreeable last-16 draw against the troubled Portuguese champions has suddenly acquired a very different complexion. Even Wenger, among football’s purest purists, felt obliged to namecheck ‘defensive solidity’ on his way to a land where the Gunners have never won.
“We need to revive that spirit,”  AW tells the Telegraph. “We need to be special. We need to dig deep. You cannot go to Porto, who have played 10 consecutive years in the Champions League, and turn up with an average game. The difference will be mental. We also need to be defensively solid but not cautious; that means when you have the ball you have to play. We want a good result that keeps us in the tie.”
He adds that Campbell’s experience should help him tonight as he replaces Bill Gallas: “That was one of the key reasons that we re-signed him. A lot has happened since the Champions League final in 2006 – when he signed for Notts County six months ago, he certainly didn’t think he would be involved in a Champions League game now. When you have quality you can always come back. As long as you are hungry to work hard, a central defender can play three or four years longer than a striker.”
Fabianski’s inclusion prompted the Times to point out that the 24-year-old Poland goalkeeper has started only five matches this season, three of which have ended in defeat, and was at fault for both goals in last year’s FA Cup semi-final loss to Chelsea.
“I have complete faith in Fabianski,” AW said. “He has shown both that he has exceptional talent, but that he also lacks a little bit of experience, for example against Chelsea. Sometimes maybe he comes too much for some deep balls, but he’s very talented.
“Don’t forget that one of the greatest goalkeepers ever in England, David Seaman, made mistakes at 22 or 23 if you watched him. That’s part of the learning process. I believe he’s a very intelligent goalkeeper and he will have learned from his mistakes.”
The Guardian tells us that we have ­prospered against the odds before, reaching the 2006 final despite losing key players en route. “We need to revive that spirit from 2006,” AW told the paper. “We need to dig deep. We need to be defensively solid, but not cautious.
“That means when you have the ball you have to play. But you do not go to Porto, who have played 10 consecutive seasons in the Champions League, and get away with an easy game. They are a dangerous side, and we know that. We need to be special. We cannot turn up in the last 16 with an average game [and expect to succeed].”

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