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Where will Nasri best fit in at City?

Now the signing has been confirmed, ending a seemingly endless saga for City in prising Samir Nasri away from The Emirates, the question being asked is quite where Nasri fits in at City?

City, as we know from the way in which they have started the season, appear a side that packs a far greater punch (or at the very least a greater intent) going forward than they did in 2010/11, where their success was based on a dominant midfield trio of Nigel de Jong, Yaya Toure and Gareth Barry.

During his time at Arsenal Nasri was deployed both centrally and out wide, the former more often the case when Cesc Fabregas was unavailable. Looking at the way City tend to shape up it is conceivable to think Nasri would again fit in comfortably in either position.

But is there any clue as to where Roberto Mancini will deploy him to the greatest benefit to the team?

Nasri’s stats over the course of 2010/11 for Arsenal show a propensity to be a threat particularly in the final third of the pitch:

Shots 52
Shots on target 34
Shot % 65%
Passing 1286/1468
Passing % 88%
Passing (Final Third)  58/71
Passing (Final Third) % 82%
Crosses 22/157
Crossing % 14%
Assists 1
Chances 57

What is apparant is that City do not possess any gaping holes in their squad. The aforementioned midfield trio are also challenged by James Milner (and now Nasri and potentially even David Silva in a deeper lying position) whilst the attacking positions are even more congested with David Silva, Adam Johnson, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Mario Balotelli, Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez and Edin Dzeko battling it out.

So far in the two opening games of the 2011/12 season, whilst Adam Johnson started the victory at home to Swansea, the trio of Silva, Aguero and Dzeko have been the driving force. As a unit, they have accounted for six of the seven goals City have scored, as their comparative figures show:

Edin Dzeko Sergio Aguero David Silva
Shots 5 6 6
Passing 41/58 29/37 101/112
Passing % 71% 78% 90%
Crosses 2 2 2
Goals 3 2 2
Assists 0 1 0

The most common school of thought (perhaps with a thought to the wealth of attacking options) is that Nasri will oust Gareth Barry, taking his place in the central trio – a position observers have thought his best.

However, despite a willingness to rotate in the attacking postitions since taking over, Mancini has remained constant in his selection of de Jong, Toure and Barry, rarely straying from them as his preferred choice – evidenced by the following figures from last season:

Passing Tackles Possession Interceptions Chances
Nigel de Jong 1419/1579 (90%) 72/95 (75.8%) 161/262 (61.5%) 88 14
Gareth Barry 1527/1818 (84%) 66/87 (75.8%) 153/299 (51.2%) 72 23
Yaya Toure 1570/1877 (84%) 38/50 (76%) 165/378 (43.6%) 39 33

Clearly Nasri possesses the skills and traits to fit in across the midfield and forward positions and it is likely that as the season progresses we will see him utilised in different ways, but with what we know of Mancini and what the numbers tell us the most likely position Nasri will assume could well be out wide with an emphasis on the 10-15 additional goals Mancini feels will be needed to challenge for the title.

Managing Editor of SBNation's Manchester City blog 'Bitter and Blue' and author of 'Man City 365'.
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