Remember when Arsène Wenger signed Bacary Sagna in the summer of 2007?
There were plenty of Gooners who wondered why Le Boss was signing a player in a position we seemed to have covered adequately.
A few weeks later, we understood that here was a player who gave us significantly more defensive cover than Manu Eboue and took no time to adjust.
Samir Nasri’s arrival in the summer after a slightly prolonged transfer saga was a natural move by Wenger for a player with wit and invention to replace ‘Dead End Alley-x” Hleb after his departure for Barca.
Scoring the winner on his debut was a great way to signal his arrival and further goals against FC Twente and Everton have given him a respectable tally of three in his first 11 games.
The French winger had a hand in Manu Adebayor’s goal against Sp*rs last week as well and it’s fair to say that he is ahead of schedule in terms of adjusting. Not everyone can fit in as quickly as Sagna.
But alarmingly, Nasri has gone missing a great deal in matches lately... and I hope the spectacle and drama on Saturday against M*nure puts him at centre stage once more.
With Adebayor and Theo Walcott missing last night, it was a chance for Nasri to run the game – and take some of the creative pressure off a clearly tiring and strained Cesc Fabregas.
Nasri has it all – pace, vision, a blistering shot and the ability to get past players.
One thing I liked about him in early matches was his willingness to have a go.
But it was telling last night that when we got a free kick on the edge of the area in a position on the left better suited to a right-footed player than a RvP missile, Nasri didn’t even put himself up to take it.
I recall in one game where he did have an effort which hit the woodwork or was saved – and it stood out because Hleb would never have even attempted it. Make a square pass with the goal at his mercy, more like.
He briefily perked up when moved from left to right midfield, but too often in games, he has all but disappeared and, despite his age and newcomer status, this is where he can earn his wages.
We’re short of creative players at present with Theo crocked, Eduardo and Tomas Rosicky some way from match fitness, Cesc finding it hard without a minder in midfield and Abou Diaby being played in so many different positions that it’s a wonder his head isn’t spinning.
So all the more reason for Nasri to step up and show us what we already know he is capable of.
If it takes a season-defining game against M*nure to wake him up, so be it.
We need a great performance on Saturday, Samir. I hope you revel in the expectation and the pressure.