It might be Tuesday, two days after the great win over Manchester City, but if you’re feeling anything like me then you will still be grinning like an idiot.
The post-match comments have focused mostly on the players widely considered to have been out most impressive performers at City, goal-scoring extraordinaire Samir Nasri and goal-saving maestro Lukasz Fabianski.
AFCB writer Darragh Murray wrote a great article on Nasri yesterday on the blog, commenting on his improvement from last season and his new-found scoring ability, while Arsene Wenger has echoed the same sentiments.
“At 23 years old your career starts at the top level and he is becoming more efficient. I think he has become stronger physically and you judge a player with his numbers. On Sunday he had a goal and an assist so that’s what you want from players who have a lot of talent like he has. He is quite a complete player because he can run with the ball, he is quick and he is a clinical finisher now. I believe we have a great player in him now.”
The key improvement so far this season, in my opinion, has been his goal-scoring. Since the days of Robert Pires and Fredrik Ljungberg we have been searching for a wide midfielder to provide 10 or 15 goals this season and given his scoring rate so far this season, Nasri is on his way to achieving that.
As Darragh touched on yesterday, Nasri appears to have grown more comfortable with his spot on the wing and rather than competing for Cesc Fabregas for the spotlight, has used the early part of this season to show us what he can do. His goal against City had all the hallmarks of a player in form: once the first pass left his foot he knew exactly where he wanted to go, tore off like a man who knew he was going to score before he even received the return pass and buried it past Joe Hart.
His early contribution to the goalscoring tally aside, the important thing is that Nasri can kick on and give us a consistent season. For all of his immense ability a combination of factors – injury, a new position and his relative youth among them – means he has had a tendency to float through some games, failing to stamp his authority in the way that a player like Fabregas does. At the moment we can have no complaints though: since his World Cup snub Nasri has appeared a new player and has been thrilling to watch and devastatingly efficient in front of goal.
Another player who has made significant improvement this season and also had a superb game against City on Sunday is Lukasz Fabianski. He kept a clean sheet for the first time this season and after four impressive games in a row the manager has all but confirmed he will be retain a place in the team despite the imminent return of Manuel Almunia.
“From game to game he shows what we see in training. Sometimes in our job you have to be steady and fight against opinions. It’s easier for you when you know the player has the talent and I believe he has the talent. I never say that definitely [that Fabianski will stay in the team] because you always want the freedom to change when it is needed. But at the moment looking at his performances you can absolutely not fault him at all.”
I am reluctant to work myself up into too much of a lather over Fabianski’s performances – yes, he has been strong, but it has only been four games – but I cannot hide my delight that he has responded so well. The Pole has to show that he can continue this form over another ten or so games before he can be considered to be our No 1 but at the moment, there is no way I would be taking him out of the team to accommodate Almunia’s return.
Sunday saw Fabianski’s first clean sheet of the season and he found obvious joy in that at the end of the game. As I mentioned previously Wenger’s faith in the goalkeeper has provided us with the potential of a unique and rather heart-warming story: an opportunity for a player to fight for redemption despite being written off by almost everyone. Alex Song, among others, achieved it after being heavily criticised a couple of seasons ago and Fabianski is showing that his career could be following a similar path.
And on that heart-warming note I will finish up today’s post – however I do encourage you to keep an eye out for a very pleasant surprise on the blog later today.
Have a lovely Tuesday.
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