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The Gooner who should inspire Theo and Nasri to come back stronger

June 2, 2010
When the World Cup is taking place, Theo and Nasri could do a lot worse than meeting up and having a chat. Two exceptional talents in World football but both now are resigned to watching the biggest competition in football. Both Capello and Domenech have not said why they excluded Theo and Nasri respectively but hey can we try.
Back in January I hinted towards Theo’s anger at not having the opportunities to make his England place certain. Here was a man who I believe infuriated Wenger to such an extent that he suggested some players think about club football only before anything else. There are some players now who don’t find the idea of playing for their national country that appealing. Theo wasn’t one of them. There is a passion which is hurt but can be nurtured.
Where did it go wrong for him? It is a puzzler. I do not buy the whole Theo is a one trick pony opinion. I thought he was one of our better players in the last 2 months although we are talking of a squad that was missing about 5-6 of its key personnel. He single handedly won us the game against Burnley – if only Nik had his scoring boots on – it would have been a hiding. After that he scored at Wigan and also was one of the better players in the two matches against Barcelona.
Theo could have been excluded because he is vulnerable to injuries. However Capello has picked players who still aren’t fully fit. In the two friendlies, Theo certainly didn’t look like a man physically unfit. I also don’t think Capello did any favours by picking a side with 2 wingers against Japan that were meant to bring create chances, retain ball possession and maintain a defensive discipline. 8 of the 11 players that started for England were attack minded. Against Mexico, England couldn’t even keep the ball well so Theo’s duty was restricted. He would have to run at defenders and create chances on the counter. Hardly the sort of tactics to bring the best out of a mercurial talent?
Could it be because of attitude issues? Theo’s statement after the Squad was selected reveals that at least with the media he is able to communicate the right sentiments.
Nasri’s exclusion is equally baffling. Having missed the first few months, he was by far the best player in his first match back in Arsenal colours. He went on to make 26 more appearances scoring 5 and setting up 4. It isn’t an impressive return but we mustn’t forget that he is very much a player in the Hleb mode. If anything he is a bit too much like him sometimes with his reluctance to shoot. Two of his best moments was his chip pass for Cesc vs Burnley and THAT goal against Porto. Unfortunately once Cesc was finished for the season, Samir’s presence didn’t illuminate a team that badly needed his creativity.
However there are suggestions that Nasri didn’t make it because he was possibly seen as a disruptive influence on and off the pitch. We know about the now famous incident that took place on the French team bus. We also saw how Nasri showed petulance in a match against Hull. It is possible that Domenech didn’t want a repeat of 2006 final when Zidane lost it in a matter of seconds.
So for different reasons and it is all speculation, Theo and Nasri haven’t made it. However they are still young and quite capable of being part of 2014 and 2018. For now they could learn from one Gooner who did make it. I could choose Eboue who took a lot of abuse from Gooners, RVP for his fighting spirit to come back from injury. But I choose Abou Diaby.
On May 1st 2006, Diaby picked up the first serious injury in his young career courtesy of a mistimed tackle from Dan Smith. Abou had made a steady start at Arsenal but the form he showed was never world class at the time. But he was highly rated and it seemed only a matter of when not if, he would make it. How often has Mourinho tried to sign a 19 year old?
Since then Diaby showed moments of brilliance but his development was also halted because of several injuries. These as we’ve seen with Eduardo, Rosicky and possibly soon with Ramsey are inevitable for footballers who’ve been out of the game for a while. But last season, Diaby started 34 games for us which I believe was his best return for us. He managed to score 7 goals and set up 5, more than Nasri and Theo did. While he had the afro, inexplicably his defensive work also improved, apart from a few mad moments here and there. That includes ironically Diaby’s mistimed tackle on Nasri which ruled him out for the first few months of last season.
Some may query his selection for France ahead of Nasri but not me. Diaby deserves his selection and he doesn’t come across as a man with attitude issues, something that will suit Domenech. Of course at 23 he isn’t the finished article but it just goes to show that with hard work and a bit of luck what can happen.
Now Theo and Nasri have really ought to have a chat. Who knows possibly in the next season we may have two footballers who know how to be part of a team in every way possible.
14 Comments leave one →
  1. tomtom permalink
    June 2, 2010 01:40

    “While he had the afro, inexpicably his defensive work also apart from a few mad moments here and there. That includes ironically Diaby’s mistimed tackle on Nasri which ruled him out for the first few months of last season.”

    Enjoyed this article but think part of this sentence got deleted. Crucial sense is missing?!?

  2. June 2, 2010 05:32

    I want to first see how England and France will perform in the world cup. i will comment later on Nasri and Theo omission. But i know they good players and not all good players can play. It depends on the coach`s selection.

  3. Harry permalink
    June 2, 2010 06:56

    Well said,they are both young.This could also increase their game next season

  4. June 2, 2010 07:43

    sorry, cant agree with the bit about diaby. He played 34 games this season, and was only good for a quarter of them. He is lazy, inconsistent, and doesnt have the passion for arsenal or probably even football. Nasri is not far off on that one either. He goes walkies far too often. Theo, however, has the passion, the skill, and when allowed, he has the consistency. Wenger needs to help theo by playing him to his strengths, and stop trying to make him into a winger! So no, he should not (or anyone for that matter) be inspired by diaby getting in the french squad. It came down to luck, and the fact that domenech is a bit of an oddball.

    • supasam8 permalink
      June 2, 2010 16:08

      kinda surprised you say he goes walkies. seems to me samir’s always one of the players fighting extremely hard to get the ball back

  5. mangetout permalink
    June 2, 2010 09:34

    “That includes ironically Diaby’s mistimed tackle on Nasri which ruled him out for the first few months of last season.” …………… Doh!

    in fact it was NASRI who mistimed the tackle on Diaby

  6. Talia permalink
    June 2, 2010 10:01

    I can understand why Theo got left out … but Nasri is all down to Domenech’s incompetence.

    Whereas there’s a decent chance England can progress … a Domenech-led France has absolutely no chance. Last time they got to the final despite their manager. This time they’ll probably go out at the group stage.

    • June 2, 2010 17:31

      As I’ve said perhaps Domenech doesn’t want a repeat of a ‘Zidane 2006’ moment and cannot trust himself to get the best out of talents that struggle to keep calm and motivate themselves. It can certainly account for the exclusions of Nasri and Benzema who had mentioned at one point I believe that he struggled to find the motivation to play for France.

  7. Arsedave permalink
    June 2, 2010 12:09

    Watch Diaby in the french friendly last week (can’t remember the opponent), the way he sets that goal up is simply amazing. He’s world class when in form, if he only can up is consitency (spelling?) he’ll be massive next season

  8. Gareth permalink
    June 2, 2010 15:21

    I think Diaby broke Nasri’s leg in pre-season with a shot, not a tackle. Nasri blocked the shot, breaking his leg. Also, the “mistimed tackle” by Dan Smith timed perfectly. He was aiming to do damage to Diaby.

    On the actual points you’ve brought up, I don’t think either Nasri or Theo deserved a spot in their respective national squads, at least not through merit of having a good season behind them, though when you look at the players who went in their places then it is a little bit baffling. What exactly have Aaron Lennon and Shawn Wright-Phillips done this season? Nothing of note and I bet their goalscoring/assist making/key pass completing stats are pretty similar to Theo’s (though I am open to be proven wrong on that point, as I can’t be bothered to check).

    Overall though I think this could give them both the kick up the backside they seem to need. Nasri looked disinterested at times last season (and the season before), while Theo needs to prioritise where his interests lie (i.e. not with the England under 21 team) as well as continuing to improve on the good work he was starting to show at the tail end of last season.

    • June 2, 2010 17:29

      The selection of SWP is more baffling although Lennon had missed quite a few games due to injury himself. SWP was not getting the games because of Adam Johnson’s performances. Whilst Capello was happy to try Lennon on the left, he never bothered doing the same with Theo. It is possible that Theo could have had a much better impact on the left as he would have to cut inside, reduce the crosses and think about his game more being the natural right footer.


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