Samir Nasri floats like a butterfly but Walcott provides the sting

Theo Walcott roundly answered his critics with a fine performance but Samir Nasri also stepped up to the plate following the injury to Cesc Fabregas.

Somewhere in his dorm in Paris, with a telescope by one side, a silver-haired, rectangular-rimmed spectacled man was frantically searching the night sky for some answers. Destiny has always been bestowed upon him but he has never fully felt in control of proceedings – the stars have all the answers he feels. Sometimes they conspire against him, most it is felt they provide him with the wrong advice and on some occasions, just fail to give any. But if Raymond Domenech was watching closely, he would have noticed a little star shining brightly named Samir Nasri.

Nasri was given the central role that the France manager demanded if he were to be selected for the national team and on this display, demonstrated the sort of creativity and ingenuity in movement that was missing in their 2-0 defeat to Spain. The ball he laid on for Cesc Fabregas for Arsenal’s first goal was pure genius, as his wonderfully weighted chipped pass plopped straight from the sky and on to the feet of the captain. The Spaniard made sure of his fourteenth goal of the season to equal Robert Pires as the highest scoring Arsenal midfielder in a season with another perfectly timed run that has put him on such a par echelon. But it was to be Fabregas’ last significant contribution of the match as the main protagonist’s exit is set to elevate an even greater role for one of Arsenal’s support cast. Most likely to be out for the crucial Champions League game against FC Porto, Fabregas’ hamstring injury should mean Samir Nasri stepping up to the position behind the main forward. It is a role that should suit him most, having gained such comparisons with Zinedine Zidane back in his home town of Marseille and would fit in well with his ability to provide good support to the man in possession and dribbling skills.

It was the same stage of the tournament last season where Nasri shone also, playing a support role to Robin van Persie and much like this 3-1 win at Burnley, profligacy was the main scourge of a decent performance. Nicklas Bendtner was the chief culprit but as Ian Rush used to always say, it is about getting into the position that counts the most and the rest should follow suit. At times the Dane’s movement allowed him to get into such positions and indeed him dropping deep allowed space for Theo Walcott to score the second goal.

Even with the glut of missed chances the result never seemed in doubt with Arsenal’s new found invincibility against teams which they may have got unstuck against in the past ensuring they have remained in the title hunt. Arsene Wenger stated the performance early on as “a bit minimalist” as Burnley troubled to cope any slight sort of movement. The Gunners were able to play the ball from back to front very quickly, made even easier as Burnley’s 4-1-4-1 ensured gaps in front of the back four as their high pressuring tactic failed to pay off. But in missing chances, it meant Arsenal were not always comfortable nor did they hit top gear and David Nugent capitalised on a watching Arsenal defence to equalise. The day, however, was to belong to Theo Walcott as his buzzing performance was capped off with a well taken goal before Andrey Arshavin made safe with a left-footed finish into the bottom corner.

Arsenal Team Statistics Burnley
3 Goals 1
1 1st Half Goals 0
10 Shots on Target 6
10 Shots off Target 3
6 Blocked Shots 0
8 Corners 2
9 Fouls 12
2 Offsides 0
0 Yellow Cards 4
0 Red Cards 0
83.1 Passing Success 68
20 Tackles 19
70 Tackles Success 68.4
65.7 Possession 34.3
51.8 Territorial Advantage 48.2

11 thoughts on “Samir Nasri floats like a butterfly but Walcott provides the sting

  1. arsenal have proven youngsters destined 4 big things only if they stay injury free.
    Nasri 4 france is a good call 4 it will boost his morale 2 but is da coach even thinking bt him ?

  2. I love the guy he is one of our best players my advice to to the gunners is all hands must be on deck becouse conceding a goal at will be an end to our champions league dream this season

  3. Hi,
    Very well written article, a great introduction paragraph.
    Our line up was very attacking yesterday and great to watch too. The shape was sort of like the Brazil one. Theo playing the Robinho role and the left winger cutting in when in attack and doing the defensive duties when needed. In the first half, Nasri was playing a deeper role alongside Denilson. When Walcott plays like that, he really adds a new dimension to our team and gives us the well needed dynamism. Don’t you think he will be better on the left flank?
    Eboue started again. Is Sagna injured or was it intentional from Wenger? Walcott and Eboue really do provide a dynamic flank and Eboue was good again.

    1. I think we should expect Eboue to start ahead of Sagna for most of the home games and especially against the so-called weaker sides. Having a dynamic side in some ways minimises the defensive work as the opposing full-back becomes uncertain and as displayed by Burnley, much of their attacks were from the right hand side with Mears bursting forward late.

    2. I will sound a bit negative saying this, but with Sagna and Rosicky on the right we have seemed rather anemic in attack. The combination of Eboue and Walcott gives the team real dynamism. Walcott stretches the defense, which gives Eboue a lot of space to operate behind him or to overlap him. In this kind of situation, his passing and dribbling can really unlock a defense.

      I also look to Nasri to shine in Cesc’s absence. He is a truly creative player. My only concern is whether he has the mettle that Cesc has developed to take the game on his shoulders when things aren’t quite going our way. In other words — great passing and creativity for sure. But will he find a way to score or create the crucial goal we need when things aren’t quite going our way. I hope so! Here is his chance.

  4. About time we saw Nasri where he belongs, even 1 match like that, and he goes straight back to getting a France jersey, lovely stuff from him, slowed the game down when needed, dribbled when needed, made space for others, picked his passes with precision. I was a bit disappointed he never showed more personality to truly make the difference himself after Fabregas went off and Bendtner was missing chances, but he clearly is much better centrally than wide.

    As for Walcott, decent, not imperious, there were still very elementary mistakes from him like bad control of the ball and not twisting his marker more, however easily his best performance of the season, more of the same and improved.

    I saw the Porto-Olhanese, they haven’t played well, lost 3-0 to Sporting that really smashed them. They looked really bad on the quick breaks and Helton flops badly on viciously hit shots from range, he spills a lot, so if Arsenal do shoot a lot, play Eduardo to tap the spills home. Walcott will have his work cut out with Varela who is in stunning form, Song had better be mentally ready to stop Micael who is very intelligent and despite being small can confuse.

  5. Raymond Domenech is the worst National coach in Europe now. He does not know good players when he sees them.

  6. I think Theo Walcott showed why it is the doubters who are lacking a ‘football brain’.

    People seem to forget that Walcott’s career has been very much stop-start, yet whenever he has had a decent run of games, he has never failed to impress.

    Comparing him to Wright-Phillips or Lennon is silly, because whilst he is small and quick (like the abovementioned), his style of play is wholly different.

    Walcott is not a pragmatic winger; Walcott is a wing-forward.

    In my eyes, he is the only natural wing-forward we have in our side, and it is clear he is bringing some much needed incisiveness to our game.

    Burnley’s game plan was clear from the start: Push up and press Arsenal.
    However, Walcott’s presence on the pitch foiled Brian Laws’ entire game plan; when Burnely tried to push up, Walcott got in behind; when they tried to press Arsenal, the width Walcott provided created gaps in and around the centre of the park for the likes of Nasri to exploit.

    If we are to push on and win something this season, Walcott’s fitness is integral.

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