Nasri shot into the limelight straight after his debut for Arsenal as he scored in that game and as he’d replaced Hleb in the starting line up it was seen as a massive improvement by many fans. Two goals against United enhanced his reputation even further and the fandom considered him to a successful signing. It’s a different matter that some of these fans have made a u-turn and now consider him among the flops!
I think this season his game suffered quite a bit due to two factors, injury and frequent change in positions. Last season he played in wide midfield and holding midfield roles. This season he missed a fair bit of the pre-season and then played on the flanks for large parts before filling in through the middle as the injury ravaged squad struggled towards the end.
When I look at Nasri I see a player who has a lot more ability than what we see on the field. It seems he plays a lot within himself and is quite conservative on the field with a focus on possession and safety rather than creativity and flair, which is not beyond him by any means. Those who watch the games closely and observe the details must have surely seen many glimpses of his talent, but for large parts his contribution is rather mundane.
I don’t know if this is down to some instructions given by the manager or something else. It could be that we try to free Cesc and Arshavin so the others are given the role of keeping the ball. If you watch Cricket you might have noticed that when Sehwag has a go at the bowling even Tendulkar doesn’t mind playing second fiddle. It’s not that Sachin can’t do the same but it makes more sense for one player to be stable while the other explodes. By the same logic I can understand if Nasri has been given instructions to play the supporting cast.
Some might argue that he should have done better when he was the main player but I don’t think it’s easy for players to switch on or switch off their A-game, especially if their positions keep changing and so do their team mates.
Let’s consider his strengths and weaknesses,
- Can dribble
- Comfortable with either foot (to a large extent)
- Can keep the ball when under pressure
- Decent tackling skills
- Good creative awareness
- Good work rate
- Fantastic touch and technical skills
Areas of Improvement
- Can improve his defensive contribution
- Needs to take/create more chances and express his talents better
- Scuffs many chances
- Doesn’t get into the box often enough (whether playing wide or in an advanced midfield role)
To be frank, I find Nasri a very peculiar case. In a way, his weaknesses are pretty much the same as his strengths! What I mean is that he is very good at many things but just doesn’t do enough. I consider him to be a big challenge for Wenger because he has all the skills needed to be a world class player but needs a little bit of fine tuning, proper guidance, and the right kind of chances.
Can Arsene polish him into a magnificent gem or will he end up as just another percentage player? The answer to that will have a significant impact on the coming seasons.