West Ham United secured a 2-0 victory over a dogged but wasteful Birmingham City side in an FA Cup third round clash at the London Stadium on Saturday. An early strike from Marko Arnautovic and a late goal for Andy Carroll were enough to see the Hammers safely into the next round of the cup.
The occasion also marked the debut of January arrival Samir Nasri, who started, and played 58 minutes, against the Championship side.
Nasri joined Manuel Pellegrini’s squad on a free transfer on December 31st – the day his 18-month doping ban ended.
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After so long out of the game it’ll take the 31-year-old some time to regain his full match fitness, but the early signs he showed against the Blues suggested that his technical brilliance is undimmed.
The two-time Premier League winner was attack-minded and aggressive in possession. His vision and creativity ought to quickly make him a key asset in east London. With Manuel Lanzini still sidelined with injury, the Hammers were in need of a player with Nasri’s levels of invention.
The 41-cap former France international has bags of Premier League experience, gained in his spells with Arsenal and Manchester City, and huge amounts quality. Once fully fit he could be a star for this West Ham team.
By the end of the season, Pellegrini’s bold decision to sign him as a free agent could be looked back upon as a transfer masterstroke and his best call of this January window.