Why Nasri should play with Cesc & Song… In The Middle…

FC Sturm Graz 0 – 3 Arsenal

If you watched yesterday’s game between FC Sturm Graz and Arsenal, you’ll probably agree with the subject of today’s blog. Samir Nasri put on a show for us that reminded us all what a player we have on our hands and how effective he can be if deploy in the middle three of our 4-3-3. The player touted as the next Zidane looked head and shoulders above the rest and was in the heart of everything good. Of course, he caught the headlines with his two goals, but playing through the  middle alongside Wilshere and Frimpong (our future Cesc and Song), he really excelled.

Nasri has played for us pretty much on the wings since he joined us and it’s not his natural position – he isn’t as effective as I think he can be if deployed in the middle. Last year I really did question why players like Nasri, Rosicky and Diaby played on the top 3 of a 4-3-3 and in the friendlies so far, both Rosicky and Nasri have played more centrally – it’s a role that suits them much better. Nasri is refreshed and by not going to the World Cup, he’s been able to knuckle down and get himself into shape.

If Arsene does move Nasri into the middle, then our potential line up could be (I’ll explain the other selections later):


Sagna – Djourou – Vermaelen – Clichy

Nasri – Song

Walcott – Cesc – Arshavin

Van Persie

Which brings to an end the debate of why one of Diaby or Diaby finds themselves automatic picks, as they won’t. As you can see from the line-up above, I’ve chosen Djourou over Koscielny to partner Vermaelen. Djourou’s vastly experienced compared to his French counterpart and also very much more physically advanced. In what I’ve seen of Djourou since his return, he’s shown me that he can come in as first choice and do a job.

The two new signings Koscielny and Chamakh don’t look up to scratch right now – I know it’s early but I’ve not been exactly impressed with their performances. Koscielny does look much smaller than the Arsenal.com site made out he was and doesn’t look like he’s ready for the Premiership. Despite his transfer fee of £8.5m, I think he has been brought in as a player with a lot of potential and as third choice. I will obviously give you more feedback throughout the next set of friendlies and I hope it’s down to fitness and he comes good quicker than later. Chamakh has a few positives – he is always hungry for the ball, and also seems to be suited to the 4-3-3, a formation he played with Bordeaux. He looks like he needs games and that makes sense, he also looks like he needs to find some confidence as I can’t remember too many shots on target from the Moroccan. His touch did let him down a few times – but like Koscielny, it’s too early to judge.

Havard Nordtveit looked much better than I thought he would. He was solid, conventional, calm and technically very capable. His stock has risen considerably in my eyes and despite his lack of involvement in the Arsenal team since he was signed, he does look very much like he could fit in. He was deployed at an unfamiliar right back position, but did quite well. His favoured position is centre back and he could be ready to step up his game. I think we’ll see a bit more of him in the friendlies and maybe this year he’ll have a role in the cups and as fourth choice centre back. Sol Campbell is still on the website as a player, so he could still be back in Arsenal colours next season – although I’m unsure of whether it’s the best signing for us, considering the youth coming through – would Sol get a game?

The first half line up was:


Nordtveit – Djourou – Vermaelen (c) – Traore

Frimpong – Wilshere

Walcott – Nasri – Arshavin


and the second half line up was:


Nordtveit – Djourou – Koscielny – Gibbs

Eastmond – Lansbury

JET – Rosicky – Wilshere


Although the positions I’ve mentioned may not be that accurate, as JET and Walcott switched a few times and Wilshere, Lansbury and Rosicky occupied mixture of positions.

A round up of the team now (well, those not mentioned above)…

Traore – made a few mistakes and still does raise an eyebrow – with Clichy and Gibbs ahead of him, does he really have a future at Arsenal? When he came on the second half for Wilshere (late on), he played up front in the front three, but wasn’t quite right up there either, although his crossing has improved.

Frimpong – A nervy start was followed by a steady game and he did look like Song in terms of movement. He is certainly in the reckoning at the moment, and I’d like to see more of him in the up coming friendlies.

Wilshere – Industrious, but never really stole the show as he has previously. A bad tackle earnt him a yellow, but I’ll need to see him again before I can really comment.

Eastmond – Does a simple job, more like Gilberto Silva than Song. He had a solid game with a few mistakes – I expected him to be stronger this term, but no real physical improvement.

Lansbury – This guy never ceases to amaze me, he scored a goal, but his overall play was exceptional considering his lack of playing time over the last couple of years. Definitely want to see more of him.

Rosicky – Looks more comfortable in the middle and looks to have finally shaken off his injury woes. Let’s see how he fairs in the next couple of games.

Walcott – Still looks a little hit and miss, but showed flashes of brilliance. The jurys out though.

JET – Personally, I thought he was brilliant. He took his chance, and in my opinion was more effective that Walcott. Some brilliant turns and some excellent passes show he has an all round game. Cited as being lazy before, but he looked very much up for the game and is an exciting player.

So, there we have it – another successful friendly. A decent run out for the team, who impressed you and who do you think will get into the team this season?

Til tomorrow…

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  • devday

    PS, I could have been a tad harsh on Chamakh – he did have that header and he was decent… expect more from him though.

  • Berth

    @ Dev: Good article but I don’t like the statement about you not seeing Sol getting a game because of the youth; I guess you are a bit intoxicated by the friendly match against a low team. When the real deal turns up, when men are ready to be counted will you bring Nordtveit,Djourou or Koscielny – for my money I don’t think so.

    I think Sol should stay at all cost, offer him 2 years if possible and Dev please do not be fooled by the friendlies; premier league is about Drogba,Rooney,Essien Birmingham, Bolton and you need men with the right mental attitude for that not young boys okay.

    Nasri may be okay, but that position you ask of him (pairing with Song) needs a very physical or energetic player like Denilson or Diaby though the later has been inconsistent-Nasri is al-right but could struggle in that position.

  • ny

    We say we play 4-3-3 but actually it is 4-5-1.Now the new trend is 4-2-3-1.Means 2 defensive midfielders and 4 attackers.This is the formation adopted by Brazil,Holland,Germany and Spain national teams.I seriously think we will go for this formation.

  • jeffvip


    i feel we shldnt go with a solid-just-one-type formation, we can go 4-3-3 against weaker team, 4-1-4-1 against pretty decent attacking team and 4-2-3-1 against some strong team

  • ny

    u r correct.Mourinho changes formation depending on the opposition.

  • Gooner Get Ya

    All scores below are out of 10:

    Fabianski – 6 – made a decent one on one save but not much else to do.

    Szczesny – 6 – made a decent save but the shot was straight at him and was not that well struck, other than that he didn’t have much else to do

    Nordtveit – 7 – looked our best defender IMO

    Djourou – 6 – Did pretty well but got caught out of position on a couple of occasions

    TV – 6 – Did ok but gave the ball away which nearly cost us

    Koscielny – 5 – Completely missed the ball which let Strum Graz through but luckily they didn’t capitalize. Did have a decent headed shot though.

    Traore – 6 – Got forward well enough but looked better as LM

    Gibbs – 6 – Did ok but left Koscielney isolated a couple of times

    Frimpong – 7 – I thought he played pretty well, broke up the play and kept the ball flowing

    Eastmond – 6 – Did ok, didn’t really see much of him

    Wilshire – 6 – Good moments of skill with the ball but not instrumental in the game. If it wasn’t for the booking he would have got a 7.

    Lansbury – 8 – Really good finish for his goal and also had a another shot which was well saved later on in the game

    Walcott – 4 – Had a shocking game IMO, every time he got the ball he gave it away or got tackled

    JET – 7 – Very competent game and showed good strength and skill…as said by others he looked much better than Walcott

    Nasri – 10 – Ran the game and scored twice…Man of the match

    Rosicky – 8 – I thought he was our most used player in the second half and showed that he can join play as well as pick out killer passes

    Arshavin – 4 – I seriously didn’t even notice he was playing…completely anonamous

    Chamakh – 6 – did ok for the most part, had a decent header which was cleared off the line, but also a couple of bad touches

  • Berth

    Dev a tribute to Edu would have been fair. Since you dont want to I have mine.


  • Yemi

    @ Berth:
    Very correct, when it comes to the real stuff, when the chips are down, when we are at stoke, bolton, b’ham, or when drg is on the run, or even jason roberts or all those big strikers, would nordtviet, koscielny hold up ? I know djourou might be able to hold up but i still think we need a steel defence like gallas, sol but i prefer younger.

    @ devday:
    I don’t know if we have the correct position for traore at the moment. As far as i am concerned he is not a good LB, he is caught way up most of the time, backtracking is absolutely bad but the young lad is skillful and fast.
    I also think we are going to have the diaby problem on our hands when it comes to walcott. He always shows flashes of brilliance but he is NEVER exceptional. Face a good LB and he is out of the game. What is the usefulness of his speed in counter attacking if the final ball is nowhere to be found ? I think he should play a more central role. But at whose expense ?
    In the GK department, i dont want to see alumina and flappy next season. Get hart or a better keeper and put manone and scnezy as 2nd and 3rd.

  • Arsefan101

    Eduardo told Arsenal’s official website: “The past few days have been very emotional for me.

    “Although I am excited about the challenge ahead with my new club Shakhtar Donetsk, I am so sad to be leaving my home for the past three years – Arsenal Football Club.

    “Arsenal is a very special football club and I will miss so many people – my team-mates, all the staff and, of course, the wonderful Arsenal supporters.

    “When I first came to England, I could not speak the language and knew nobody, but as soon as I arrived I was made to feel at home and part of this big family.

    “I had some very difficult times with my injury, but Arsenal was always there for me – the medical staff, the management, the players and the supporters. Thank you everybody.

    “Although I have now left the club, Arsenal will always be in my heart. I will always look for the Arsenal results and of course, I wish Arsene Wenger and the great players at the club well for next season and the future.”

  • devday

    Brings a tear to your eye…

  • mason

    a personal view:

    It’s makes me both sad and angry that a player of Eddie’s abilty has had his career so adversely affected by a low life thug…a player who having arrived on the heels of TH’s departure had much to prove, who as each game went by began to show his ability, class and his incisiveness in front of goal…one of the quotes that still rings clear after his 2 goals against the bolton thugs on that memorable rain soaked night in the Carling Cup was “He just doesn’t miss does he”, and it was getting to the stage where everyone who watches prem football, was sitting up and taking notice of this small, shy, brilliant striker – as each game went by his confidence and stature were growing, you could see him blossoming in front of the supporters……and he was beginning to form a real strike partnership with Bendtner who also seemed to becoming more of a pivotal player with Eddie in the side….and it looked like Arsenal just might be the surprise of the season…especially having been written off with the departure of the Legend that is Thierry Henry


    Well, yes know what happened next.

    Taylor may not have intended to dislocate and break Eddie’s ankle – But I sincerely believe he did Intend to ‘foul’ him, (and got it horribly wrong) that attitude that quite a number of talentless, thugs who (dis)grace the prem with their ‘ Ave a bit of that johnny foriegner’ demonstarte wekk in week out, an attitude borne by and from their managers – McLiesh being one of those (and let us not forget in the papers the next day McLiesh tried to make out that he and Taylor had tried to visit Eddie in hospital – no such thing took place – both Mcliesh and Taylor Lied)

    And so a player of alarming ability has had his chance to really shine dimmed by a Thug.

    A thug who now plie’s his appalling trade at watford (I think), a thug who said in an interview last year…”Eduardo knows where to find me if he ever want’s to discuss what happened”


  • mason

    and a big fuck you to the pundits who were in total, apoplectic meltdown after the Celtic CL game

    I’m afraid that had a massive effect on Dudu’s psyche.

  • Yemi

    @ devday:
    Really brings tears to the eyes !!! Such potential cut short by a very very bad tackle. That is a good way to play arsenal my foot, but Netherlands are a thug for playing Barcelona (sorry Spain) the same way !!!

  • Kodjo

    Yep unfortunate situation with Dudu…ope he goes on and has a decent career.

    I hear taye taiwo is set for athletico albeit with problems on the payment structure…that could open up space for traore’s exit to marseille

    as for walcott i’m still waiting for him to be consistent ****surprise surprise…Berth hasnt commented on is performance

    on Kos clearly wenger has gone for a ball playing technical defender…he is not tough…i dont see him ever being tough…he will figure when we play the ball paying teams…cos he will get slaugthered by the likes of roberts, diouf, o’connor, drogba, fuller etc

  • Yemi

    We saw maluoda playing at left back for chelsea last season when the chips were down so traore is another surplus as far as i am concerned.

  • Berth

    I have nothing to say about Walcott. Talking about him is not even a topic to discuss. We all know he turns on and off, but to be honest its better to have a very unpredictable Winger than an unpredictable midfielder all season. We also have players to replace Walcott, but in Diaby’s case we think we have a real gem of a player and so we do not look forward to replacing.

    My View Kodjo being that Walcott’s case is more negligible than that of Diaby.

  • Yemi

    @ Berth:
    Don’t you think carrying unneccessary load will eat up much needed space ? Imagine if that walcotts spot was taken by a right winger? One of the problems we have now is that the balls do not come in from the wing(maybe cos of 4-3-3, but thats a number), If we cant play theo in a position where he will be more effecient(centrally), and we keep him on the wings where he runs and runs with no end product, is it useful to us ? he already has enough time to develop in that right wing but it just ain’t working. So we give him a chance more, diaby a chance more and if they don’t get up to speed we can send diaby to bolton on loan to build up his bone crushing skills and theo to city on loan to build up his speed training with SWP and bellamy (joke)

  • Arsefan101

    @ Berth:
    “but in Diaby’s case we think we have a real gem of a player and so we do not look forward to replacing.”

    Man, I don’t know how you think Diaby is a gem – he is the most inconsistent player in the premiership!!

  • Kodjo

    @ Arsefan101

    I think Berth was being sarcastic…with the statement

    “but in Diaby’s case we think we have a real gem of a player and so we do not look forward to replacing.”

    @ Berth

    I dont think walcott’s role is negligible ….compared to Diaby…different roles obviously but all very key to the system

    when walcott is brought into play his final ball is crucial bcos its means a goal scored or giving possesion back to the opposing team…i will cut him some slack cos he’s played for the first time in the 4-3-3 formation last season …

    but he has always been employed on the wing…for the past 3 seasons and is a good enough time to make up his mind on whether he wants to cut inside…outside …cross to the near or to the back post or even cut back for the late arriving midfielder

    i noticed during the barnett game he over/under hit his crosses on 2 or 3 occassions when chamakh was well positioned…to the point where chamakh couldnt figure him out…either make the run to the near post…or delay his run????

    walcott just cant make up his mind …wenger cant do that for him…he is on his own.

  • vj

    i might be being childish here but im bored there have no rumors of any signings and i really want one, arsene sort it out, i dont want to return to emiraes next season and see manuel and flappy walking out

  • Kevin


    Since when are we owned by stanley kronke? Also does anyone else see the conspicuous abscence of one F.C. Barcelona

  • ola

    I remember when TH14 left us and Arsène Wenger pulled you out of the hat. Eduarwho was the reaction of many supporters and I admit that this included me. I had hardly heard of him before he joined us. But who am I to know all the players in Europe or in the world? Arsenal does know them because of their world wide scouting system and they had found you and brought you in.

    At first it was difficult. To come from the Croatian league to the EPL is a very big step and it takes time to adapt. And it took you some time to adapt. But what was clear was that you were a player who had a good scoring record but also a player who could link up with the other players. A player who had an eye for the teammate. And one of the things you had was that awareness that you cannot learn: being on the right spot at the right time. This is something that you have or you don’t have, and Eduardo had it.

    Wenger gave you the time to learn the EPL and he even played you in the Carling cup where you scored some great goals in that 2-3 victory against Blackburn on that cold evening. And from then on it got better and better. Goals against City, the goals against Burnley in the FA cup.

    I remember a match commentator shortly after that saying after you finally had missed a chance: ‘So Eduardo can miss a chance’. This summed you up in January. You had made the transition from the Croatian League to the EPL and people recognized why Wenger had bought you. It looked like a fairy tale coming real.

    Most of the real Arsenal supporters remember that fatal day in February in Birmingham. I still remember it and I think I will never forget it. It was one of the last games I did not see live of The Arsenal. I remember waiting for one of my sons to have finished his match as a ref to drive him home. And I knew that another son was sitting at home to see the game. And mostly he sends me the half time score or the final score when the game is over.

    But he didn’t send me any messages. I felt something was wrong. Had they lost? In a way they hadn’t lost but in the same time they had lost it all. When I came home my son was speechless. When I asked him have they lost? He couldn’t answer me but to show me the pictures he had ready on the website with the terrible and horrific injury that happened to Eduardo.

    I’m a grown up men, standing in the middle of my life, and I think I can say that I am rather down to earth and not that easy shaken up by something. But those pictures did hurt me as deep as can be. Not only because I have had a similar accident on a football field, but most of all because it happened to him. Eduardo, that quiet player always with a friendly smile on his face. Those eyes who always looked friendly at the world. Not him.

    But it did happen to him. And I must admit that from the first moment I thought this would be the end for him. It was for me some 30 years ago and I realized the hard way he would go through in the next months. I also knew that getting physical ready was in fact the easy part. But the mental side of the injury would be the hardest hurdle to come by.

    But he showed remarkable character by coming back. I was in the Emirates when he came to the field at the Emirates cup and I admit that it brought tears in my eyes to see him there. And I must admit that I was very emotional when he came back on the pitch for the very first time after his injury. And I can admit that when he scored his first goal after his comeback that I again had tears in my eyes again. I think I never celebrated a goal so intensely. I was so happy for him and I wanted him to get back to his very best form. And for a moment I thought he would come good completely when he scored that amazing volley against Burnley. This was the Eduardo we knew from before the incident.

    But what I feared somewhere down deep inside did happen. At first I saw it in glimpses. You sometimes could see a slight moment of hesitation in his play. And I noticed it more and more. It is something that happened to me when I started playing again some 25 years after I had stopped after my broken leg. I could see his brains looking for safety. I could see him hesitate and take the safe road. And it became more visible even for the people who never went through such an injury.

    He still had that notion of where to be when the cross came in but when the ball felt to his feet you could see him freeze. When he tried to shoot on goal and a tackle came in he lifted his standing leg to be sure that the tackle wouldn’t hit him while standing firm in the ground. But by doing this he unbalanced himself and his shots flew not in goal and were not hard enough.

    Again I could have cried for this as I knew it would spell the end for Eduardo not only as an Arsenal player but also maybe as a football player in general. So Shakhtar Donetsk is giving Eduardo a new chance. I really hope for him that by going away from some of those criminals that play in the EPL he can find back the peace in his mind. I hope he can ban the fear from his head and stay firm on his feet when shooting at goal. I really hope that we can see his big smile back on his face when he plays there and scores the goals he wanted to give us.

    I think no one at Arsenal or with the fans will blame him for trying his luck in another league. I think most of us find it sad that it had to end this way. We find it sad that the fans cannot wave him goodbye in the way like he deserved a proper goodbye. So we can only feel happy for him and hope that he finds a new footballing life in his new club and wish him well. And we can, once again, feel very sad and angry for that *********, ************ b*****d whose name I don’t want to mention anymore, who destroyed a very promising career before it really had started.

    Eduardo, from the bottom of my heart I can only say to you in English, Portuguese your mother language and in Croatian, the language of your new adapted country :

    Thanks, Goodbye and Good luck

    Obrigado, Adeus e boa sorte

    Hvala, Zbogom i sretno

  • Berth

    If any signing VJ I would want Flamini back. Does anyone support me or will you folks crucify me.

  • tom G

    @ola – what a great post. thank you.

  • Goonerman

    Berth I know a lot of people would disagree but I would love flamini back in the squad, he made a huge mistake leaving is but we were amazing in midfield with him and cesc in the middle!

  • RVP

    forget flamini he is now shit and he also disrespected the club in a similar fashion to adebayor nowhere near as bad but still bad. if we want a defensive midfielder we should either get felipe melo or nigel de jong.

  • Dula

    I think Diaby should be played, but Walcot benched.