Nasri’s big opportunity

Three weeks ago a disastrous performance by Lukasz Fabianski allowed FC Porto to come away with a 2-1 first-leg lead against us.

Tonight our team must overturn that deficit to book a place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League and we will have to do it without Cesc Fabregas.

The captain’s hamstring tweak means he misses out with the extra responsibility of creative midfield duties likely to fall to Samir Nasri. The Frenchman put in a superb performance against Burnley on Saturday after moving central as a result of Fabregas’ substitution and he should be supported from more defensive positions by Alex Song and Abou Diaby.

Nasri has a real platform to show us what he is made of tonight.

His move from Marseille to Arsenal has seen him go from star man to a medium-sized fish in a big pond but he was not touted as France’s great hope a few years ago for nothing. He is a fighter and a natural leader, a player that relishes responsibility and is the most like-for-like replacement for our captain. If he plays well tonight it will send a clear message to the club and the supporters that a very special career for Arsenal may still be on the cards.

Song’s return is a no-brainer but there is an argument to be made for Denilson’s inclusion given that Diaby has only just returned for injury and did not start on the weekend. However, with the team requiring goals I feel the Frenchman will get the nod over the Brazilian and look to hurt Porto with his surging runs from the heart of midfield.

In defence Sol Campbell returns to the team to partner Thomas Vermaelen, while the need for stability over style should see Emmanuel Eboue benched and Bacary Sagna reinstated on the right. Gael Clichy should will play on the left while Manuel Almunia, who participated in the pre-match press conference, will captain the team from between the sticks.

Up front Nicklas Bendtner will have the opportunity to put Saturday’s shocker behind him while support on the flanks could come from a number of players. Personally I feel the manager will plump for a combination of experience and pace and that means Tomas Rosicky and Theo Walcott with Andrey Arshavin, Eduardo and Eboue providing possible impact from the bench.

I’m a little bit at a loss to try and predict what sort of game tonight will be.

Porto will know that it could very easily be a repeat of last season’s 4-0 win at The Emirates if they let us take control of the game, so it will interesting to see how they respond to that threat. Will they play a counter-attacking game in the hope of locking us out at the back and sneaking an away goal of their own? Or will they play the sort of attacking game that allowed them to grab a deserved 2-2 draw at Old Trafford last season?

It is worth noting that despite Porto’s victory in the first leg they certainly didn’t show themselves to be a brilliant side. Although our performance was poor and we deserved to lose, the feeling I get is that if our boys can play near the best then we will simply have too much attacking power for the Portuguese side to handle.

An interesting night awaits.

Thoughts?

Have your say on Arsenal’s big clash with Porto by leaving a comment.

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46 Responses to “Nasri’s big opportunity”

  1. Rocking Guns
    March 9, 2010 at 6:27 pm #

    I think walcott must’ve been saying “We need a striker! We need a striker” Because was unlucky or was supporting Burnley? Just kidding!

  2. Rocking Guns
    March 9, 2010 at 6:30 pm #

    Oh! I forgot to say Bendnar! Silly me!

  3. Dayo
    March 9, 2010 at 6:32 pm #

    I’m trusting God&believing we will secure a win in tonight’s match.though the absence of bro. Fabregas will shake the team in no small measure but i’m sure victory is ours

  4. Lompri
    March 9, 2010 at 6:32 pm #

    the startin line up is perfect. i think porto will be going for a counter-attackin game, which means we should concentrate also in defendin; song can help greatly with that by not attackin much.
    c’mon lads

  5. Lompri
    March 9, 2010 at 6:38 pm #

    @ dayo
    a win is not enough, we need 2 qualify 4 d next rounds (quater finals)

  6. Patkalula
    March 9, 2010 at 6:51 pm #

    The night is not easy for us we have to fight with comfidence scoring goals without misuse of chances!

  7. Robert
    March 9, 2010 at 6:56 pm #

    I’m actually glad Francesc isn’t playing tonight. The Porto players tried to hurt the oke the last game out. In the end Cesc were not in a football match, but a boxing match. Sure we are gonna out class Porto even without Cesc. Thats what our last clash against them showed. Its should be a comfortable victory.

  8. Old Timer
    March 9, 2010 at 7:03 pm #

    It should be a different game this time around. Porto didn’t score two goals – they were gifted them by the ref and by Fabianski. This time around we’ve got Almunia in goal plus we have Song in midfield, he was absent last time, and some one else up our sleeve (who I’ll come to in a minute). Both Clichy and Nasri were in poor form for the first leg – they’re now both playing really well. Porto might think it’s a blessing that Fabs not playing but like Andrew I think Nasri can fill his boots and give them a bit of a surprise. Bendtner surely can’t miss every chance again?
    Perhaps most importantly though Porto won’t be able to get away with the rough stuff they did in Portugal. They’re the dirtiest team we’ve played this season. If they do try it they might well not keep 11 players on the pitch. Walcott was ineffectual in the first leg but after this weekends showing that might also be different. Basically, if we play the way we know we can Porto will find themselves up against a changed outfit this time and I really don’t think they’ll be able to handle it. But the main reason may be the player I was speaking of earlier. Arshavin. He could rip them to shreds.

  9. Robert
    March 9, 2010 at 7:06 pm #

    Dont forget: We are THE ARSENAL. Sure Francesc is great. But there are alot of players I see equivalent. Its becuase of them that Cesc get to play his game, and him theirs.

  10. Ianinja
    March 9, 2010 at 7:16 pm #

    Never be complacent, we are the team that need to win. A victory over Burnley dose not make Arsenal world club champions. Lets all take it one at a time and be humble, we’re gooners not arrogant spurs fans.

  11. ADEYEMI RALPH
    March 9, 2010 at 7:18 pm #

    Dayo, your prayer will be answered. A\rsenal would win tonight game despite exclusion of our amiable captain, porto has no hiding place at emirate stadium, they must weep tonight. I remain gunners for life.

  12. sid
    March 9, 2010 at 7:47 pm #

    It was good that it appeared Bendtner got applauded off the pitch. Hopefully it was in appreciation of his efforts and not because Wenger was hauling him off. I thought he had a very good game, his link up play was good, his attitude and effort was good and the fact that he was in there for the chances was a great sign of potential. Sure as a striker he missed the sitters but every striker will tell you that you have “one of those days”. Look at the Yak on Sunday, missed a penalty, hit the post, missed from 5 yards, it happens. Lets just hope Nik is saving the goals up for tonight to see us through to the quarters!

  13. sid
    March 9, 2010 at 7:48 pm #

    plus the Liverpool downfall suits us just fine. That makes their games with Chelski and Manure to be more “must win” games. Though it is more likely that they are not able to get one over each of them, we should not underestimate a wounded animal. The Scouse might give us a hand in our miraculous run for the title.

  14. Damn_Gallas
    March 9, 2010 at 8:15 pm #

    It would be Almunia in goal for us. Almunia would be on form tonight.

    Sagna and the improving clichy will be our full back tonight. Campbell and Vermaelen will be the rock in our defence. I seriously expect our defence to turn up tonight and keep a clean sheet. The 5 of them would know how important this game is for us.

    In defensive midfield role, I would take both Song and Diaby. Song has been an ever present player in my Arsenal team. He is hardworking and provides cover for the defence really well. He is someone that can hold the ball and passes well. Diaby on the other hand has improved tremendously after all the insults, we fans directed at him. Diaby is now a stayer in my Arsenal team. He can defend and his attack is great. His passing has improved alot.

    Replacing Fabregas, I would choose Nasri. Nasri has been fantastic for me during the burnsley game. His chip to Fabregas is marvellous. He has a great engine and can defend and attack with ease.

    I would choose Bendtner, Walcott and Arshavin as the front 3. Bendtner for his height and ability to hold the ball and play in some of his other team mates. Furthermore, he knows he needs to show the fans what he is all about especially after missing so many chances in the burnsley game. I would reckon that he scores some goals tonight.

    I picked walcott also because he is currently on fire, on form. There is no reason to take out someone that has been doing great during the last game. He is crucial to our team with his speed. He and Sagna would provide alot of crosses for bendtner tonight.

    Arshavin scored a goal during the burnsley game after being out for quite awhile. He is back to his best and we all know what he is capable of. With fabregas out, we need someone that dares to shoot whenever there is a chance, and that someone is arshavin. Arshavin would provide all the trickery on the left and cut in for a chance to shoot.

    Subs: Fabianski, Silvestre, Traore, Denilson, Eboue, Rosicky, Eduardo

    I would reckon that my Arsenal team play some fantastic football and win the game. But I do not expect a high scoring game. I would take it that we win it 1-0 or 2-0. We must keep a clean sheet and not let them score first.

    We will win this match and move on into the last eight.

  15. Arsenal Zulu
    March 9, 2010 at 8:25 pm #

    We can win tonight without Cesc, and he needs a break for the final run in to the title. Clichy has found his radar again and the ref cannot be as useless and pro-Porto this time round. Forward the Gunners.

  16. Andrew Weber
    March 9, 2010 at 8:51 pm #

    Nice lineup @ Damn_Gallas. Looks the same as mine aside from the inclusion of Arshavin.

    The manager hinted that if Arsha plays he’s not fit enought to get the full 90 minutes, so that kind of put me off him a bit. It will be out of him and Rosicky.

  17. Andrew Weber
    March 9, 2010 at 8:52 pm #

    @ sid – Well said regarding Liverpool. We just have to hope they’re still in the running for fourth when they play the other two. If they slip too far back it might work the other way.

  18. Dan
    March 9, 2010 at 9:15 pm #

    Every game counts, and this ones as important as the rest, complacency and the belief that it is the Emirates will just not do the team good, they should take one game at a time and know its importance.

    Porto is not surely coming to sit on their laurels and just wait to be given goals, those blunders we saw at Porto that cost the team can happen at the Emirates, remember Burnley, their only goal.

    Well, what i know is that we can win and proceed on, we are not pushovers, and i must admit i am liking every game the boys get to play everyday.

    come on Gooners, am proud of this team, am proud to be a gooner.

  19. bhupesh
    March 9, 2010 at 9:27 pm #

    With another home win under the belt, there was a cool sense of optimism to match the early spring climate as we head into the final nine games of the season. Around the ground before the kick off much talk was based upon the lack of sympathy highlighted in the mainstream media for that tackle on Aaron Ramsey.

    However it does look like replacing Ramsey will shape the transfer activity of the summer – after last week’s encouraging financial news it seems there is little excuse for not adding to the present squad. Melo was a name brought up by Wenger who historically doesn’t have a habit of making public his admiration of players that he would like to purchase. Currently the player in question, a holding midfielder who chose Juventus over our great club in the summer, is having a tough time in Turin so hopefully the Boss is thinking a bargain may be on the cards. He would certainly add some much needed steel to our team.

    I was one of the many in utter disbelief at Bendtner’s efforts to create his own DVD of gaffs for Xmas 2010. There was a real fear some sections of the crowd were going to “Eboue” him, but thankfully everyone saw sense and gave him the much needed encouragement going into Tuesday’s crunch game against Porto. After all he is probably our only out and out striker actually fit at the moment. Eduardo continues to frustrate but at the same time it is clear he will never be the player he once was and desperately needs a lengthy run in a side. Regular first team football is needed so perhaps he may make way for the much rumoured arrival of Chamakh in the summer?

    A run in the side is exactly what Walcott has had since coming back from his latest setback and it is beginning to pay dividends, particularly in the second half which bodes well for our run in to the end of the season. He gives us a different option and balance on the flanks. Nasri is also coming back to somewhere near his best and Eboue is a completely different player from last season.

    The criticisms of Saturday lay in our vulnerability on the flanks – especially the left where Clichy was constantly left unprotected time and time again. At 2-1 with ten minutes to go note how Walcott switched with Arshavin. I would like to think this was a tactical change so Walcott could help out our left back as Arshavin – for all his talent – does not really help his defenders out as much as he should. The Spanish goalkeeper had his usual flaps on crosses – a new keeper in the summer is a must.

  20. graham
    March 9, 2010 at 9:38 pm #

    It’s becoming painfully obvious what’s going to happen this summer. Chelsea, Man City, Real Madrid and Inter Milan will bid for Fernando Torres.

    Liverpool wont qualify for the Champions League, and all four clubs will see this as a great opportunity to pick up a wonderful player. Liverpool will have to accept any reasonable bids for Torres, as it’s well documented that they have no money.

    But wait, here’s the good news for Liverpool fans. What are the chances of Torres passing a fitness test? The poor fella has been run into the ground by Liverpool, and he hasn’t been right all season.

    Here’s the bit that has me frightened. If these clubs all pull out if trying to sign Torres due to his injuries, they’ll need another signing to cheer up their fans.
    After watching all the matches the weekend, there’s only one other striker in the Premiership playing like Torres right now. Nicklas Bendtner. 4 easy misses a piece this weekend. Wenger get him a new contract, now.

  21. ferry
    March 9, 2010 at 9:55 pm #

    Dear Mr. Waddle,

    Having un-jinxed Walcott, can you talk about Bendtner this time instead please?

  22. knepper
    March 9, 2010 at 10:25 pm #

    Personally, I think we have enough quality in the team to see off Porto. Having said that we need to be very cautious as we do not want a repeat of what happened in 2007 with PSV.

    Fabregas not playing is hardly good news however, I am very confident Nasri can fill in for him. I was very impressed with his display against burnley on saturday as he has had some really poor games these past few weeks.

    For my front three I will start with Arshavin, Bendtner and Walcott as he (Walcott) had a brilliant game against burnley. As for arshavin I don’t think he’ll play the whole game, I expect Rosicky to come in for him at some stage.

    good luck gunners.

  23. Moriaso wa Kenya
    March 9, 2010 at 11:20 pm #

    Goosebumps…..

  24. Arsesession
    March 9, 2010 at 11:55 pm #

    For a critical CL match, Cesc’s replacement needs to have the skill sets, experience, and leadership – Rosicky.

  25. eddykane
    March 9, 2010 at 11:55 pm #

    I think hoping for a 1-0 strategy is far to risky. It is likely we will concede . in any case we must go for a 3-1 victory.

    Our defence is set. midfield nasri, song and diaby must be the way. up front though i think edu and theo must partner bendtner least in first half. arsh and rosicky for the second.
    if theo can produce from the right am sure edu will clean up at the back post after bendtner. although edu still not to his best at finishing i think his contribution in and around the box is invaluable. with bendter getting service from both sides and nsri behind he better net a couple.

  26. ferry
    March 10, 2010 at 12:12 am #

    Enjoyed this read for a Tuesday lunchtime…

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/paulfletcher/2010/03/the_answer_to_arsenals_goalkee.html

  27. isaic
    March 10, 2010 at 12:45 am #

    how about rosicky to start and arshavin coming in at 65 minutes? impact sub… i want to see vermaleen nick one in… cheeky me… XD

  28. shambogunner
    March 10, 2010 at 3:57 am #

    i dont know of any arsenal or french fan who has ever referred to nasri as a ‘fighter and a natural leader’ and ‘a player who relishes responsibility’…..because hes never shown these attributes in my opinion,once again am bemused as to why these attributes are awarded to players who dont possess them……almunia,bendtner and now nasri.if he shows an ounce of leadership or fighting spirit il be well impressed and issue you a sincere and grovelling apology mate.
    the leaders for me are the men who show it consistantly and they will be invaluable tonight….verm,song,campbell and nic upfront, for his endeavor alone!these are the guys who will stand up and be counted tonight,but i hope nasri does continue his upward curve of form
    come on arsenal

  29. SOBIN THE GOONER
    March 10, 2010 at 5:06 am #

    We will do it……….come on Arsenal

  30. enemyairships
    March 10, 2010 at 7:13 am #

    Total annihilation, I hope Zero comes back.

  31. darragh
    March 10, 2010 at 8:04 am #

    Nasri really took his opportunity tonight!

  32. luxinbrasil
    March 10, 2010 at 8:07 am #

    Once again Mr Weber…you hit the nail on the head with your headline…..

    It may have been a less frivilous Bendtner that bagged a hatful of tricks but that clearance off the line and a sublime solo goal (im still mesmerised!) capped a MOTM performance from our Sammy…..

    Thinking back to everyones performance i find it hard to criticise…inspired subsitutions from AW….Eboue is in the form of his life….Andre was uncontrollable…Bus pass holder Campbell was immense!

    Im over the moon for the boys and am now heading off to chug a couple of cold ones and revel in the knowledge that we ARE title contenders and we ARE heading to the quarter finals of the Champions League!

    Thank you Arsenal!

  33. theicehammer
    March 10, 2010 at 8:16 am #

    Nasri was the don tonight, he had all i love in skillful players. Everyone played well, but what about Eboue. Is he now one of your best players. I sometimes wander if he is on drugs. Finally i know Bendty scored 3 but lets not sing his praises quite yet. The goals were layed on a plate for him and the ones he missed he should have done better.

  34. Gibbs
    March 10, 2010 at 8:18 am #

    Superb performance by the lads tonight. Nasri had a great game and his goal was one of the best solo efforts I’ve ever seen, simply brilliant! I’m also glad that Bendy managed to get the first hat-trick of his career, he thoroughly deserved it.

    All in all it was a great performance and I really hope we can keep it up untill the end of the season. If we do we might end up winning the double.

  35. theicehammer
    March 10, 2010 at 8:19 am #

    Gooners keep your feet on the floor. I find it difficult to imagine that the boys can maintain this tempo for another few games.

  36. enemyairships
    March 10, 2010 at 8:28 am #

    Wenger out!

  37. henrykissinher
    March 10, 2010 at 8:33 am #

    LOL enemyairships

  38. Andrew Weber
    March 10, 2010 at 8:34 am #

    Keep our feet on the floor? Why exactly?

    We’ve just beaten Porto 5-0, the player that everyone in the media was slamming for missing chances just scored a hat-trick, Nasri scored one of the best Arsenal goals in the last 10 years, Eboue has gone from novelty act to dangerous goal threat and the team spirit is high.

    If you can’t feel your feet just creeping off the ground after a performance like this then you never will.

  39. Andrew Weber
    March 10, 2010 at 8:35 am #

    @ enemyairships – Are you serious? How can you possibly say that after winning 5-0 against Porto? You must be the worst fan ev….

    Oh wait. Sarcasm.

    GO ARSENAL!

  40. shambogunner
    March 10, 2010 at 9:31 am #

    LOL…..
    special delivery for a mister Andrew Webber……1 apology (he says with bowed head)…….for my hasty comment earlier, but in my defence wev been waiting a long time for nasri to do this regularly…hope he can keep it up.wel done to nic for making amends for saturdays game and having the guts to ignore the criticism,need more of that tho
    agree with my good friend ice that all feet must remain on the floor,nothing is won in march….well bar the carling cup, but you know what i mean,theres no room for complascency….if thats how you spell it!
    big up to my man eboue who has been a revelation since the booing debacle last year….a great character to hav around and am glad to see the theatrics hav been outgrown…i hope
    ps cud you imagine being a fiorentina fan and getting knocked out to that disgraceful offside in the first leg vs bayern??
    wonder will that clown porto fan be back on here after his gloating from the first leg,if you are let me be the first to say…..ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha……a-hole

  41. KURUPT
    March 10, 2010 at 9:35 am #

    I think someone owes nasri an apology, and I’m with u Andrew I just can’t seem to put feet on the ground. Gr8 game from everyone and I really think nasri showed what he was brought in to do. Bit worried bout his injury though!!! But for now let’s enjoy this win!!!!

  42. Andrew Weber
    March 10, 2010 at 11:23 am #

    Yay! An apology from Shambo! 🙂 But it’s “Weber” to you…

    Nasri would be a star man week-in week-out if he played for a club where he could play in the Cesc role. He’s a team man, great goal today.

  43. Andrew Weber
    March 10, 2010 at 11:35 am #

    And just in case you needed it, further evidence of Nasri loving responsibility can be found in the manager’s post-match comments:

    On whether Bendtner was the designated penalty taker…

    “He was No 3. The No 1 was Nasri, the No 2 was Arshavin. And he was No 3. He was lucky. Arshavin was out and Nasri as well when the penalty happened.”

  44. LAGunner
    March 10, 2010 at 2:04 pm #

    It’s only been two matches, but Nasri and Eboue have been excellent in these matches. I never thought that Eboue was that fast, and Nasri has made some unbelievable passes in these last few matches. His pass to Fabregas against Burnley was superb and his passes to Arshavin tonight were top class. Of course, I’d like to see Fabregas back, but the way that Nasri is playing now, particularly in the middle of the park, I would start Fabregas on the bench this weekend against Hull, and see if Nasri can maintain his run of form.

  45. senior citizen
    March 10, 2010 at 7:17 pm #

    If bendtner can convert his chances like yesterday, then we are assured of being relieved of the shame we’ve suffered from for the last 4 or so yrs.
    Keep up

  46. Prince Charles
    March 10, 2010 at 8:12 pm #

    No doubts about Nassri, how I pray he keeps fit for the rest of the season!!! he is a treasure!!! B52? he is a developing player and am sure he still has the potential to deliver more.

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