I decided that the wait for the big London clash on Sunday is getting drawn out, so rather than navel gaze, I decided to give Insider’s the rare delicacy of agreement. To state that Samir Nasri has made an impact is widely accepted. his scoring has been an asset, and his ability to dove tail with Clichy, gives us a potency that Jose Antonia Reyes only ever hinted at providing. So it is that I present the work of two of our seasoned contributors Josh Benson and ArseneHollis. Both have written pieces about our number 8 and I commend these articles to those of you who wish to celebrate the ex Marseille wizard.
Fabregas the King.
Samir Nasri – the new Arsenal no.8 Legend???
If you mention the number 8 shirt to most Arsenal fans, they will remember the legend that was Ian Wright. For the more youthful Gooners, Freddie Ljungberg might be at the forefront of their minds. After the last owner of this shirt, Lassana Diarra left for pastures new, Samir Nasri took on this shirt. The question is whether in 5-10 years or so, Arsenal fans will remember Samir for great times in the number 8 shirt of Arsenal.
Ian Wright will always hold a place in the hearts of Arsenal fans. It took the best footballer I have ever watched to break his astonishing goalscoring record. No one will ever forget the goals Ian Wright scored. Some were stunners, some were good finishes and some were down right scrappy. He did not care; to Ian, a goal was a goal, no matter how it came. He was a proper goalscorer. It was his business and he was on the all time best at it.
The image of WRIGHT 8 is still a vivid one and it was always going to be a hard image to replicate for any future Arsenal player. Then came along LJUNGBERG 8 and what a love story that was also.
Freddie spent 9 years with Arsenal and in that time won 1 Community Shield, 2 Premier League titles and 3 FA Cups. In those 9 seasons he scored 72 goals for the club. For a midfielder this is a great achievement. He was a consistent goalscorer for the club as well as a great team player. Rarely was Freddie ever selfish and he would always pass to someone in a better position than himself. A goal on his debut at home to Manchester United was a great way to start but it is his loyal servitude for the club that will ensure he has a place in the hearts of many Arsenal fans for years to come.
DIARRA 8 was soon the new order. However, Diarra was not patient enough to make this shirt his own and it was the man who took over the number 8 shirt that was to be the next man to make the shirt his own. NASRI 8 had arrived.
It took a long time for Nasri’s transfer to Arsenal to be completed this summer but once pen was finally put to paper, Wenger put great confidence in Nasri by giving him the number 8 shirt. Nasri is still young but this small decision showed Nasri that Wenger saw him as a first teamer. Wenger likes to harp on about the 6 month settling in period and sometimes this is something a squad can allow for. Eduardo was granted this period of time and we saw how he came good. Wenger clearly has other ideas for Nasri.
Alex Hleb’s departure provided a gaping hole in the squad which Nasri has filled in. With Tomas Rosicky laid out with injury for the unforeseeable future, there is less chance of Nasri having a chance to settle in. With Theo Walcott the only other recognised wide player in the squad (I do not count Emmanuel Eboue in this), Nasri has a lot on his shoulders. Coming from the French Ligue 1, it is obvious he has developing to do but a lot of this will come through playing at the highest level.
At Marseille he was the main man and this pressure will help him at Arsenal as he is used to expectation. Whereas at L’OM he was expected to be the star performer week in week out, at Arsenal he is part of a squad that is expected to do well this season. Although the type of expectation is different, the level of pressure is the same. From the start I have seen something in Samir which makes me think he can cope.
He was thrust straight into the side against West Brom and set the standard with a goal after only 4 minutes. Not only did he grab the winning goal but he shone that day. When his team mates sauntered through the game, Nasri took his debut as a chance to show what he can do. He showed commitment, skill and a bit of bite that he will need in this league.
Ironically, Nasri has reminded me more of a former Arsenal no.7 rather than any previous owners of the no.8 shirt. I had a text from my friend during the FC Twente game and it read “He’s just like a little Bobby Pires.” I could not agree more. The ease with which he carries the ball, the ease with which he can twist and turn on the ball and the ease with which he drifts into dangerous positions is reminiscent of the Arsenal legend. If he can get as many goals and assists as Pires did, then we are in luck.
His goals have so far shown me that he has the ability to provide plenty of goals from midfield. Each goal he has scored has been different in execution, but each has been clinical. His first arrived when he was picked out after a brilliant run into the danger area from deep. The second goal came after he managed to make room in the area with brilliant skill to lose two defenders. His third goal so far this season was a 20 yard bullet from the edge of the area. Each goal was very different, but as I said, each goal was clinically taken. The two against Man United have already destined Samir to become a firm favourite with the Emirates crowd. A tally of 5 goals already in his debut season is very respectable and as he settles into the league with this team, I am sure more will come.
Freddie Ljungberg scored on his debut also and went on to have a very fruitful career at Arsenal. The signs so far for Nasri are good. Freddie scored 8 goals in 43 games in his first full season as an Arsenal player, Samir already has 3 in 8 starts. For a new signing that is pretty good in my eyes. Long may that continue and there is no reason why he shouldn’t.
I touched on his abilities before but a more in-depth look mite tell you why I believe our new no.8 can do as well as some of his predecessors. His passing ability is one thing that will have caught Wenger’s eye. He fits right into the system Arsenal play as he looks to come inside from the left and join in play. He is comfortable on the ball and is always looking for it. The flexible formation of the midfield allows him to pop up in dangerous areas and link play.
His skill has also shone through at times this season. Rarely have I seen players rob him of the ball. On so many occasions Nasri has used great balance and strength to hold off players before losing them with either the simple pass or a bit of skill. Pires and Ljungberg both had this ability to carry the ball at pace but in the knowledge that it was always under their control.
Lastly, whenever a player comes over to the Premier League, a manager will prepare them for a battle. Each player needs a bit of aggression in them and some bite that is required in certain games. Robert Pires was sometimes lacking in this department but there is no such problem with Nasri. Nasri is prepared to get stuck in, can take a kicking and is not prepared to stand for any crap. If a tackle annoys him he will not hide, instead he will get up and win it back by channelling his anger into a solid tackle or solid hassling. His work rate allow s him to do this and the commitment shown thus far is very promising.
It is still early days but from what I have seen during the first three months of Samir Nasri’s career at Arsenal, Nasri has a great future ahead of him. He is in a team that suits him down to the ground and hopefully he only gets better and better under Wenger.
By Josh Benson.
Obsession for Men, by Arsene Wenger
I’m obsessed, I just can’t help myself. Watching Cesc scream and tear at Nasri’s shirt in celebration of our second goal against Man United just gave me goose bumps. The young Spaniard, so often the inspiration on whose shoulders such a heavy burden lies had found a comrade in arms. They were the epitome of silky skill, easy movement, and devilish determination all game long; the jewels adorning an ornate crown.
There was a point over the summer when I suggested that the transfer of Samir Nasri to Arsenal would be an anti-climax. This was not based upon an assessment of his qualities, but a reaction to the protracted nature of his move; there was little drama in his announcement. Whichever way you cut it that looks like a fool’s opine now. That said, perhaps it shows some of the cynicism about the club and amongst the fans during the summer that the arrival of France’s great white hope, the ‘new Zidane’ no less, was not greeted with more excitement. As so often seems the case, knowing Wenger we should have known better.
After his match winning display against United it seems fitting to break out the hype bandwagon and start it rolling. Great players, club legends, have come to Arsenal and taken time to settle. Nasri has slotted straight in, embracing the team, its style, and the English game – there is NO reason to think he isn’t adjusting himself and there is far more to come still. There has been the odd poor game, but that is to be expected. Samir has stepped into the physicality of English football, moved to a club juggling hectic league and European commitments, and missed large chunks of last season with injury; fitness was always likely to be an issue. Still the good has far outweighed the bad.
His performance confirmed something evident in flashes already – he is a fighter. The desire struck me first against Twente at home; he raced half the pitch and made an excellent sliding tackle to halt a break from a corner. I love Bobby Pires to death, but he rarely got stuck in. At the weekend, the goals aside, it was particularly heartening to see his break late on when he should have been awarded a penalty. Vidic is no slouch and after beating him for pace he then muscled past him with sheer power. The drag through his legs to get clean through was reminiscent of his you-tube clips and a certain other famous Algerian footballer. The way he teased Neville before teeing up Bendtner, who should have scored, was a delight. Then of course there were the goals. What a joy to see Cesc try and rip the shirt off his back in celebration; brothers in arms, fighters together, perhaps the summer betrayal of friends will not linger long in the little Spaniards memory.
Seeing Samir do his thing it reminded me of how quick pundits were to judge our summer’s business. The window had barely closed when all and sundry were evaluating, I think very prematurely. In truth we still have no idea how our shopping spree panned out, only more time and trophies will tell us that. Still, Nasri and Ramsey look better than advertised. Silvestre might just be an important part this season, he has looked good and clearly offers a balance Toure and Gallas don’t have. If Djourou keeps up this way maybe we will be just fine at the back long term, another young defender would have stunted his progress. Even Bischoff is starting to do things in the reserves, although I’m not sure his ‘wonder’ goal was as good as advertised. Vela will make us proud one day.
There remains this apparently intractable lag though between potential and silverware now. This season still looks like a massive chance to get that monkey off our back and elevate this young team from precocious artists to champions. Here lies the great tease though: the thought that if we can turn our style into trophies now there will be no stopping us. Winning breeds confidence, but also in the best teams hunger; you have to assume that after the first cup, which is seen as the hardest, more would follow.
Up front all our players could realistically be playing at the peak of their games in 5 years time. Ade and RVP will each be 29, Bendtner 25, and Vela 24. Our oldest midfielder from Saturday would be 27. In fact all our outfield players from the United game could realistically be playing for us in decade, bar Gallas, Silvestre and Sagna. On the bench was Vela, Ramsey, Wilshere, Djourou, Fabianski who all fall into the same category. With a team this young and talented we must show faith and hope for the best – snap judgements on youth are undermining and inherently ill informed. With what we have right now this side could be the Harlem Globetrotters of football, it might even bring Wenger the one trophy he craves above all others.
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