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Nasri on the Way Back

Tuesday night was a special night for Arsenal, not only because we took one more step towards the knock-out stage of the Champions League, but Samir Nasri played for Arsenal reserves away to Wolves.

Samir suffered a broken leg in pre-season before he was able to kick a ball, with Rosicky fitness unsure and Walcott suffering an injury; it was a severe blow to Arsenal fans. Nasri scored seven times last season for Arsenal, but a series of injuries prevented him getting into double figures.

Nasri’s absence has not been missed this season due to the form or Rosicky and Arshavin, but his return is anxiously awaited.  We know that he can play as one of the midfield trio or further forward, either way adding to our attacking abilities.

Nasri played for the reserves on Tuesday and lasted 58 minutes.  In the time he created a goal for fellow Frenchman Gilles Sunu. 

“I feel good,” Nasri said speaking to “I was a little bit tired at the end of the first half but I am so happy to be back on the pitch. It has been three months I was injured so I am really glad to be back.

“It has been difficult but I was always looking forward for a speedy recovery. I knew it would be hard but everyone was behind me and helping me so I am OK.

“I don’t know if I am ready yet for the first team. I need to play because nothing can replace the games. So I work well with Tony Colbert and now after one or two games I will be ready to come back to the first team.”

Wenger is in no hurry to force Nasri back especially as our next two league games are against London rivals West Ham and Tottenham.  A more likely outing for Samir will be some part in the Carling Cup match against Liverpool next Wednesday followed by another reserve appearance on 2nd November against Portsmouth.

Nasri will be fully fit by the beginning of November and will give Wenger additional options in midfield or attack.

Injury Nightmare Continues

What have we done to deserve so many injuries?  Is there a curse at The Emirates? Since moving to the Emirates we have lost too many players for too long, Henry and van Persie ins season one, Rosicky and Eduardo in our second year and last year’s injury list would have been too many to fit into either ER or Casualty.

This season started with Nasri out injured before pre-season, Vela soon followed him and Walcott, who is becoming Arsenal’s Mr Sicknote, joined the list.  Eduardo has not been able to stay fit for more than two games, whilst Rosicky cannot last 90 minutes yet.  This was not enough for the injury jinx, because Almunia has been out for several weeks with a chest infection but to make matters worse our second goalkeeper was also out injured.

Add to these injuries are the perennial one or two week injuries and you can imagine the headaches that Arsene has had to contend with.

Just as players start to come back, Walcott gets clattered by Ridgewell and is out for three or four weeks!

There is some good news as both Nasri and Fabianski are due to play for the Reserves tonight against Wolves.

All teams suffer injuries and that is why we have large squads, but how many teams can cope with their number one and two goalkeepers out as well as a host of attacking talent. 

That is why what we have done so far is a great achievement and no doubt once Wenger has Nasri, Walcott, Eduardo, Bendtner and Vela all back and fit, it will give him a great problem.

Nasri’s Break Could Be Wilshere’s Lucky Break

The terrible news that Nasri broke his leg has once again left Arsenal fans shell shocked.  How many more injuries to key players does one club deserve?  Rosicky is returning after 18 months out injured, whilst Eduardo is once again out for two months, and last season we lost Walcott, Fabregas and Adebayor for long spells. 

The loss of Nasri is a hard one to take, but this could be the opportunity that another youngster has been looking for.  The player in question is Jack Wilshere.

Jack Wilshere came to prominence towards the end of the 2007/08 season, with some reports that he might even make an appearance for the first team.  In the end young Wilshere went out to Austria and was impressive in the pre-season matches.  Wilshere got several opportunities last season and was regularly involved with the first team. 

As with most youngsters he was unable to sustain his form and towards the end of the season he drifted back to playing for the reserves and was a key member of the all conquering FA Youth Cup winning team.

Once again Arsene has taken Wilshere with the first team and injuries to Eduardo and Nasri, the opportunity is there for Wilshere to show everyone what a great talent he is.  What you always get with youth is that they play with no inhibitions and Wilshere is no different.  He is confident in his own ability and will not be overawed in having to play in the Premier League.

Given the opportunity we will all realise what a great talent Wilshere is and just as an injury to Clichy gave Gibbs the opportunity to show Arsenal fans that we have an able deputy to our number one left-back, Wilshere will show us that we a  player who is ready for first team football lat such a young age.

Silvestre or Gibbs to Replace Clichy?

Gael Clichy will be out of action for three weeks.  He will miss the league games against Wigan Athletic, Liverpool and Middlesbrough, the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea and the Champions League return leg against Villarreal and the first leg of the Champions League semi final (if we qualify).

 Wenger’s dilemma is who he picks to deputise for Clichy, who though has been solid for most of the season, has not had a great season and has been caught out of position too often.

 Wenger can go for experience in Mikael Silvestre, who spent most of his Manchester United career at left-back.  When Silvestre joined he hoped he would play as a centre-back.  Silvestre will give us experience at left-back that is for sure, but what else would he offer.  His performances for Arsenal have not been the best; they have coincided with games that we have conceded more goals and lost more games. 

 Whilst you cannot place the entire fault at one player, if that player is inexorably weak, then the buck must stop with that person.  A defence needs all four of its members to perform, there can be no passengers and for me Silvestre is a passenger. 

 He will offer very little going forward and will be torn to pieces at the back.  It will not help him with Arshavin playing in front of him.  The   Russian rarely tracks back, leaving an extra burden on the full-back.

 Arsene’s only other option is rookie left-back Kieran Gibbs.  Gibbs has played in the Carling Cup and all the FA Cup ties this season and has not looked out of place. The opposition were Championship sides plus Wigan and Hull.  Gibbs is a tenacious defender, good in the air and because he was formerly a winger, he has speed and is good at crossing the ball, something neither Clichy nor Sagna have mastered this season.

 I would not be fearful of Gibbs playing on Saturday against Wigan nor on Wednesday against Villarreal.  I believe he will cope admirably against both teams.  There will no onus on us pushing forward in either game; these games can be used by Arsene to see how he copes under intense pressure.  He can than decide whether to play him against Chelsea in the FA Cup and Liverpool in the league.

 I believe that Wenger will plump for the experience of Silvestre over the youth of Gibbs.  I have not been a Silvestre fan from the time he joined us and have seen nothing in his performances to change my mind, all I hope is that if he does get the nod over Gibbs, our fortune with him in the team changes.