Has Wenger finally unearthed his new Robert Pirès?

Samir Nasri Pires Great FormSamir Nasri has had a barnstorming start to the new season. After 11 appearances this season in all competitions he has managed to slot home 7 goals and pick up 3 assists. Statistically speaking, this is a great return, but it’s Nasri’s energy and drive that best characterises him. Nothing typifies Nasri’s growth as a player more than the assured performance he put in against Manchester City this weekend. He opened the scoring after exchanging passes with Arshavin in the Manchester City penalty area, before smashing it past Joe Hart. He was industrious and creative throughout the game and it was his determination that saw Arsenal get their third goal. He had enough fuel in the tank late on in the game to prevent the ball going out of play and was able to set Bendtner free on goal, who picked his target perfectly. The game ended 3-0 to the Gunners and Nasri really should have picked up the Man of the Match award.

After the game, Arsène Wenger was unsurprisingly full of praise for his team and yet chose to single out Nasri’s performance. “[Nasri] is becoming more efficient. I think he has become stronger physically and you judge a player with his numbers. Today 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.”

At the same time, Robert Pirès, Arsenal’s beloved ex- midfielder is reportedly in talks to sign with Conference outfit Crawley Town. It’s an easy and somewhat lazy point of comparison, but the similarities between Pirès and Nasri are striking. For starters, they are both French wingers who play or have played on Arsenal’s left. Moreover, they are both have incredible technical abilities, a good sense of mobility (even if neither of them were ever particularly pacey) good vision and are capable of picking out difficult passes. The major point of comparison for me lies in a shared sense of creativity and improvisation. You get the sense that with each player you never quite know what they’re going to try next.
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Robin van Persie often gets compared to Dennis Bergkamp and Diaby gets compared to Patrick Viera. These kind of comparisons are usually simple points of thumb for pundits who like to fit things neatly into little boxes. Yet, the comparisons usually have some foundation, as is the case with Nasri. Now that Nasri seems to have found his shooting boots, the comparison between the two players begins to look more and more favourable. If he continues in the same vein, he’s certain to become just as popular with the Arsenal faithful as Pirès continues to be.

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