Step It Up, Samir

Posted by SmartArse

After Saturday’s debacle OleGunner on twitter created a Guardian chalkboard highlighting the differences in passes made in the game by Samir Nasri and Tomas Rosicky:

by Guardian Chalkboards

The diagram clearly shows a a greater proportion of Rosicky’s passes were forward (and thus penetrative) than Nasri’s. The conclusion made is that Rosicky is a more creative passer, with Nasri more of a dribbler – one I find a little hard to sustain given that the Frenchman has a similar number of assists in fewer games (10 in 83 for Nasri, 11 in 99 for Rosicky), but such minor quibbles aren’t the crux of my argument. As @OleGunner himself freely admitted, such an analysis is a little simplistic.

The most important revelation in the chalkboards is that Nasri, in my opinion by far the more potent player, too frequently fails to make the most of his obvious potential, settling for a slot in the supporting cast rather than taking centre stage himself. Passes are too short and sideways. Regular viewings of the man in action will also tell you even his obviously excellent dribbling is often stunted.

Fortunately for me, I missed Saturday’s game. My reaction to finding out that we’d gone two down to West Fucking Brom at home was, after the inevitable trigger of ‘what did Manuel do!?!’, was ‘well that’s what happens without Cesc‘.

But it bloody well shouldn’t and not just because it was West Brom at home. Not only was the team at large easily strong enough but also Nasri, when handed Cesc’s central role, has all the raw materials to at least make a damn good stab at stepping into his captain’s shoes; he appears at times virtually impossible to tackle, has two excellent feet and as eloquent recent interviews have shown, the brain to match. When he decides to go direct, either through quick passing or the mesmerising dribbling he showcased against Porto, he’s quite the force.

In fact Nasri’s faster accumulation of assists, a statistic I expect to burgeon this year, highlights that Nasri is the more creative force when he’s prepared to take responsibility, be direct and incisive. His Arsenal career to date is punctuated by flashes of brilliance when the mood does strike him.

On another day the quality of his two goals against West Brom would rightly be lauded, but its little use turning on the style once we’re already three goals down. Similarly, he was obviously fantastic against Tottenham in the Carling Cup, but that should have been the minimum expectation from a player as high profile as him against such a rubbish Spurs second string.

All good teams rely on great players to work miracles on the days where it just isn’t working for the usually reliable supporting cast. Even the best teams need influential individuals when the unit fails to function.

Samir Nasir is not yet a great player. Great players take the leading role not just occasionally or against the lesser lights, but consistently and on the grandest stages.

Perhaps, as some have suggested, its a case of Samir being prepared to take some more risks. He certainly seems to play well within himself much of the time. Hopefully he’ll realise that risks are substantially less risky when you’re as good as he clearly has the potential to be.

Harsh perhaps on probably the only player to emerge from Saturday with any real credit, but then, I expect a little more from a man as talented as Samir.

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One Response to Step It Up, Samir

  1. Sonuvagun says:

    If you think that Fab has been bossing the midfield since he was 16, then Nasri certainly should be able to. I don’t think it helps that he is played all across the midfield on any given occasion however, plus injury disruptions. One thing I really hate about Nasri (the only thing!) is his habit of completing a whole turn of the body in possession in order to shake a pursuer. It’s a slow old move which always gives the defence time to regroup and kills the attacking initiative.

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