Porto Preview: It’s Nasri’s time to shine if Arsene uses the right system

Fab is out of the Porto clash and this gives Arsene another chance to play with our lineup and tactics.  Of course I would prefer Fab play.  He’s Fab.  But without Fab, Arsene is forced to play what I think is a line-up more suited to our team, a 4-5-1.  The team is no longer centered on Fab’s game and one of our biggest weaknesses, too many like-minded attacking players, becomes a strength.  So not only do I think that Arsenal will win decidedly tomorrow, but I think Nasri in particular is going to have another class game and we’re going to win this game much easier than people think.

My optimism really starts from the Burnley game, which was entertaining for many reasons.  Nasri and Walcott were all over the place and showing their potential.  Fab’s general play and perfect goal was fabulous.  And Bendtner?  Well, he had me in stitches by his third miss; of course, it was only funny because we won.  But more importantly, circumstances for the Burnley game forced Arsene to play a 4-5-1.  And since we don’t have the players to impose their game on a team, we need a system that brings out the best in the players.

While I love our 4-3-3 for the beautiful game we play, a 4-5-1 is much more suited to our strengths.  Okay, more like a 4-1-4-1, but whatever.  Against Burnley, we had Denilson in front of the back four.  For Porto, we get to put Song in front of our back four.  Then our midfield has Rosicky, Diaby, Nasri, Walcott.  And yes, Bendtner operating up front.  This gives us plenty of scoring options -imagine if Bendtner hits just half of his shots from the Burnley game -while giving our defense much more cover against a counter attack with Song and, yes, Sol, keeping an eye out.  Hmmm, makes one wonder about next year’s squad.

Anyway, the Burnley game is memorable because Walcott played well and Bendtner missed just about every shot one could contrive to create for him.  But more importantly, for the team, was the play of Nasri.  Many people, like the pundit, have been hard on Nasri.  I’ve been a consistent defender because I always felt Nasri has been played out of position.  I’m an unabashed Nasri supporter: he was, and is, a natural creative midfielder.  He’s a younger Ribery.  Yes I said it.  But he’s faster and plays better defense.  And I like him even more because he’s sacrificed his game for Fab and for the team.

Frankly, there are few that have his one-on-one creative dribbling skills.  And while Fab is the better passer Nasri has huge potential.  Remember, they are both just 22.  Nasri is also totally dedicated to the shirt, there are no questions about him returning to Marseille.  For a kid that learned to play on the tough streets of Marseille, he’s always has the bite that many of us love.  Watch him when he gets in someone’s face.  Not that I’m questioning Fab; I’m just singing the praises of Nasri.

So with Porto coming up tomorrow and Fab out, Arsene will be forced to rely on the man from France.  Having watched him play forward to help the team, I can’t wait to see him move back to his central midfield position.  Nasri is a creative force and a fighter; when he plays he gets in people’s faces and doesn’t back down.  Combine him with Diaby and Rosicky and our midfield has a degree of creative power Porto can’t match.

Nasri  also improves our counter-attack threat.  He might not have Fab’s passing ability, but he’s quicker up the field.  A game play that works for Walcott as well.  Walcott may not be able to dribble, but all he has to do is run like hell down the right side.  I know this system won’t work against the best teams.  I want Fab back for the next stage.  I’m optimistic, not delusional.  But right now, against Porto, Nasri has a chance to shine and continue to build the foundation of the team.  If Arsene plays the system for Nasri.

– the student

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