As if the snow, ice and Glühwein weren’t clues enough that Christmas is on the way, a goal on Saturday had Sky Sports’ commentator Andy Gray reaching for the seasonal metaphors: »The touch of an angel!« cried the former striker, as Samir Nasri scored the winner in Arsenal’s 2 – 1 besting of Fulham. Not unknown for his hyperbole, Gray could be excused on this occasion: Nasri’s goal was divine. In case, you missed it – here it is in full:
The scampering Frenchman arrived at the Emirates in 2008 from Marseilles, the latest of his generation to be burdened with the label ‘the next Zidane’. His development was incremental, and he did not immediately shine as brightly or consistently as expected. This season though, he has blossomed and (along with the Gareth Bale at Spurs) has lit up the London postcode of N17 with some exuberant footwork. Having scored both goals on Saturday, his tally in the league this season now stands at eight and his form has helped mask the hole in Arsenal’s ranks left by the alternatively out-of-sorts or injured Cesc Fabregas.
All eyes turned to Yoann Gourcuff
The French public’s desire for an exceptional player to step forward like Zidane and lead the national team out of its funk in the Domenech era was no surprise – the supremely incompetent manager was never going to do it himself. But it is almost as if, having been excluded from Raymond Domenech’s ill-fated France World Cup squad, Nasri has shrugged off any bothersome notion that he alone should revive Les Bleus. In Nasri’s absence, all eyes in South Africa turned instead to Yoann Gourcuff, who was suffocated by the pressure and poisonous divisions in the French dressing room and has simply never recovered.
Nasri on the other hand emerged from his summer holidays undamaged by the French farce, and despite an early season knee injury, quickly discovered perhaps the richest vein of form of his career. Playing on the right of the attacking three in Arsene Wenger’s 4−2−3−1, the 23-year-old has been a constant source of forward impetus, demonstrating beautiful balance on the ball, to slalom into opponents’ penalty areas and wreak havoc with shots from both feet. His first goal on Saturday was, after two heart-stopping feints, dispatched with his weaker left peg.
Stunningly and swiftly as Samir Nasri
His dazzling displays though will only mask Arsenal’s deficiencies at the back for so long. No-one likes to see players injured, but the way Laurent Koscielny and Sébastien Squillaci clashed heads in the build up to Fulham’s goal on Saturday was indicative of the pair’s propensity to blunder. With Wenger’s major weakness still his inability to identify commanding goal-keepers in the transfer market (he inherited David Seaman remember), Arsenal, have a soft, squidgy centre like the marzipan at the heart of a Stollenkonfekt. The Premier League’s most voracious strikers will gorge on it till sick.
Nonetheless, due to the cancellation of Manchester United’s match at Blackpool, Arsenal are top of the table for a week, having won the most games and scored the second-most goals after Chelsea, whose glut at the start of the season is looking increasingly deceptive. Arsenal’s next fixture could be defining – a trip to Old Trafford on Monday. A win there for the Gunners, who have won more games on the road than any other side this season, would see them looking a little like Herbstmeister – ready to take on the punishing Christmas schedule with a slight gap over United and Chelsea. Seasons can turn on what happens in frantic December though – as stunningly and swiftly as »Le Petit Prince« Samir Nasri.
An dieser Stelle erklärt Titus Chalk die englische Fußball-Kultur auf Deutsch
Folge 15: England 2018
Der Traum, der letzte Woche einen Albtraum geworden ist. England hat wirklich gehofft, dass mit einem paar Einladungen für die Hochzeit Prinz Williams, Handschläge von Golden Balls, und ja zwar Stadien, Anhänger, Fussball-kultur und so weiter, könnten wir endlich die WM schaffen. Aber ach… wir haben vergessen wie eigentlich funktioniert FIFA. In solche Situationen, können wir immer dankbar sein, dass wir Harry Redknapp haben, alles zu erklären. »Es ist wie X‑Factor«, hat er gesagt. »Du bist entweder gut oder nicht gut. Du kannst nicht nachher die Richter hinter den Kulissen sagen: ›Ihr sollt eigentlich für mich wählen. Ich bin eine sexy Schnitte und werde für euch meine Klamotten abnehmen.‹« Danke sehr Harry. Du bist der nächste England Trainer.