Arsenal has been inconsistent this season but have notched some important wins on the road and are currently only two points behind the leader, Manchester United. Last year, the Gunners were in the title race till the month of April but could not keep pace due to injuries to a number of key players.
They lost captain Cesc Fabregas, Van Persie and Andrei Arshavin due to injuries over the course of the season, and without these three excellent attacking players, the goals did not come easily for the Gunners.
Cesc Fabregas is a world class midfielder but has had a stop-start season, which has already seen him miss many matches due to injuries. Robin van Persie has been injured for most of the season. Andrei Arshavin has played in a lot of games but has been off-colour till the game against Aston Villa where he turned in a Man of the Match performance.
Arsenal should have struggled to score goals in the absence of these three but that has not been the case thanks to the season's leading goal-scorers for the Gunners, Samir Nasri and Marouane Chamakh.
Wenger said at the end of the last season that the improvement from the Gunners will not only be because of the new signings but also from the development of youngsters, who are ready to take their game to the next level. That has certainly been the case for the Gunners, who are in the title race largely due to the development of Samir Nasri, Alex Song and Jack Wilshere into excellent players.
Samir Nasri was injured at the start of the last season but since he recovered from the leg break before the end of the year, he has played in numerous games for Arsenal, establishing his place firmly in the side. However, he was rather unfairly not given a chance to prove his mettle for France in the World Championship and they could have done better with the inclusion of the creative Arsenal midfielder in their team.
Nasri has responded extremely well from his personal disappointment and has contributed immensely to Arsenal this season. In the two seasons that he has been at the Emirates, he has not shown the consistency that he has shown this season. He has already notched nine goals this season and has arguably been the best player of the season for Arsenal. He has also established himself as a regular under new coach Laurent Blanc for the French national team, who have enjoyed a sort of a renaissance.
Samir Nasri's wonderful performances has been the cause for Arsenal's decent season so far and he should rank among the current best midfielders in the world because of these 8 aspects, which make him a complete midfielder which any team would love to have on their side.
1. Supreme Dribbling skills
In a team consisting of the likes of Robin van Persie, Cesc Fabregas, Tomas Rosicky and Andrei Arshavin, it is not often that the club's official website declares that Nasri is the best dribbler in the team. Nasri's dribbling skills are superb, which helps him evade numerous defenders. He also has a lethal turn which helps him get past defenders and create the space for himself. If you want to see a glimpse of his dribbling skills, I suggest that you search for his goal against Porto on youtube, which is one of the finest goals in the last season. He has also got a lot of time on the ball, which is a quality of good midfielders.
2. Great ability to shoot from any range
Many of the Arsenal midfielders do not take shots from distance, but Nasri is one of those who can and does shoot from long range. For a small man, he gets immense power on his shots which can cause a number of problems for the oppositions. He does prefer taking shots from the area, but if he is afforded the space, he can be deadly from distance and has shown his class on many occasions this season. He is also excellent in rounding the keeper, which he has done as many as three times this season.
3. One of the rare two-footed complete players
There are not many two-footed players in the world today and for a midfielder, being two-footed is a real advantage considering that he has many additional options to look for a pass. Nasri is comfortable on both feet and though he is stronger on his right, he does not look out of place on the left. It is because of this ability that he can play on both the flanks and be effective on both sides. He can also shoot well with his left, which is an added advantage.
Samir Nasri can play in a number of positions and has been utilized in various roles by Arsene Wenger, who has shown immense faith in the lad's potential. Cesc Fabregas’ injuries in the last year has seen Nasri excel in the central attacking midfield role. Although he has stated his preference for the central attacking midfield role, he has performed immensely on the wings, which has provided Arsenal a great attacking threat from the flanks. He is also good defensively and has played alongside Alex Song deep in midfield. The Manager will have a number of options provided by such a versatile player and can change his tactics according to the situation with ease.
5. Leadership on the Pitch
Nasri thrives when there is responsibility placed on his shoulders and that, in my view, has been the case this season, where he has had to shoulder the burden of creating the chances and scoring goals due to the off-colour performances of Arshavin in most of the matches and the injuries to Fabregas and Van Persie. It is easy to observe the confidence with which he plays nowadays and he expects his teammates to perform to their potential. Last season, his best performances came in the absence of Fabregas when he was expected to pull the strings for the Gunners. His leadership has not gone unnoticed with Arsene Wenger recently handing him the Captain’s armband when Fabregas was substituted in one of the games.
6. Ability on Set-Pieces
Nasri is a confident individual, who has been in-charge of set-piece duties since his days at Olympic Marseille. He is adept at swinging in corners and free kicks and also has scored from free-kicks with powerful efforts. Cesc Fabregas was completely in-charge of set-piece duties till the last season, but Nasri has been sharing it with him this season and he has been unfortunate not to score from free-kicks on more than one occasion. Also, he has taken penalties for Arsenal and has not missed a single one, so far.
7. Selfless Attitude on the Field
Samir Nasri is an extremely good dribbler but has learnt the art of releasing the ball when needed. He rarely dwells on the ball for too long and his vision and creativity makes it easy for him to spread the play when necessary. He is not a selfish player by any stretch of imagination and is always on the look out to create opportunities for others, which can be great for the Gunners. In that sense, he is not very different from Cesc Fabregas, who is also a player who will look to create chances for his team-mates.
8. Aggressive Midfielder who works hard for the team’s cause
Samir Nasri has endured some injuries during his time at the Emirates, but he is a tough lad who is always up for the physical battle. He has developed his physicality at Arsenal and does not look out of place in the Premiership, where he has to cope with the physical tackles and challenges. He is not afraid of putting in the tackles to win the ball and is good in his defensive duties. He is an extremely energetic player who is always going to work for the team. He does not possess a languid style and his efforts for the team’s cause makes him a complete midfielder.