With hopes of winning the Premier League again, Manchester City hold their own fate after Chelsea beat Liverpool, and an inspiring comeback from Crystal Palace to get a draw from the red half of Merseyside. A 3-2 win over Everton, means that 2 wins against Aston Villa and West Ham will give City the trophy. The show-stealing performance came from Ross Barkley, however, Samir Nasri was the man pulling the strings for the Manchester side putting in a creative performance contributing to City’s attacks, this was key, especially as Sergio Aguero was pulled off early immediately after levelling the scoreline.
In the 74 minutes the Frenchman was on the pitch he managed to create a total of 8 chances, or a chance every 9.3 minutes. This contribution came from Nasri’s positioning and intelligence as he discovered that Everton were often having marking issues whilst playing 3 at the back. This meant that playing on the left of midfield, Nasri could drop into the gap between the defence and the wing-back (Coleman). Finding this space enabled him to get into wide positions more easily and therefore led to 4 crosses being played in, 3 of these being successful.
Nasri’s fast footwork and tenacity proved uncontrollable for Everton. One of the chances created in open-play led to an Edin Dzeko goal, taking Nasri’s assist tally for the season to 7, equalling Man City’s star performer Yaya Toure. Nasri timed his run toward the back post to perfection, managing to stay onside whilst trapping the ball at his feet, giving John Stones no chance to latch on to anything, Samir then dropped his shoulder, faking to come inside. He then took the ball towards the byline where he then struck it across the 6 yard box for an unmarked Dzeko to pick up his second goal of the game putting Man City 3-1 up.
Clear indicators of how key Nasri’s performance was in City’s win are his passing figures. His 96% open play pass completion (49/51) emphasises how once Man City got their flow going, after being 1-0 down, they became very difficult to breakdown and it started to look like they would run away with the game, although in terms of amount the of passes made (51) this is an average figure and is something that isn’t too encouraging when Nasri has been able to hit 70+ passes in several games through out the season. Playing 33% of these passes forward – his highest this season – demonstrated the intent and importance of this fixture. Not only was his passing accuracy high as an overall where it matters, within the attacking half his passing accuracy was at his season-best of 93%. Clinically keeping the ball in Everton’s half prevented the Toffees from dictating play and ensured they were kept at bay.
Being substituted in the 74th minute proved a wise move for Pelligrini, as Man City needed to soak up pressure being applied when Lukaku scored to make it 3-2. Nasri wasn’t the man to perform the defensive tasks that Man City needed to see out the game, as he only managed to make 3 ground duels, winning none of them and making zero tackles wasn’t helping his case.
Doing his job within the attacking transition of play, Nasri’s performance was very pleasing to the eye; however, I’m sure as with most creative midfielders, their defensive contribution often goes amiss. When coming away with the 3 points, this unwillingness could have been costly and if Nasri is to become more holistic in his play there are areas for improvement. Overall with Aguero dropping out early on, Nasri certainly stepped up to the podium and deserves credit for this outstanding performance.