London: Samir Nasri is fast emerging as Arsenal’s key player as the Gunners enter what Arsene Wenger says is a crucial part of the season.
The Frenchman scored his fifth goal in four games to help Arsenal beat Partizan Belgrade on Wednesday and qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League and with skipper Cesc Fabregas injured he ran the show in midfield.
“He’s in the form of his life,” Fabregas said in his programme notes. “Now he’s getting the goals too and he’s one of the players that is leading the team.
“He’s in one of those periods. When you’re hot, you’re hot and we have to take advantage of his form.”
Despite a crowded treatment room, three Premier League home defeats and some worrying form on the road in Europe, Arsenal find themselves well-placed for a push for silverware this season.
Manager Arsene Wenger believes his side can hit top form before the Champions League resumes in February.
“We have played some great games since the start of the season although we weren’t at our best tonight,” Wenger said after a nervy display against the Serbs.
“But what is extremely important for a group like ours is that we are still in the competitions and when we play now in the last 16 hopefully we have done well in the Premier League and the League Cup and we can have a high level of confidence because that will be needed.”
Arsenal have a 50-50 chance of playing either Barcelona or Real Madrid in the last 16 of the tournament but striker Robin van Persie, who scored his first goal for the club since May on Wednesday, is not worried.
“We have to believe,” Van Persie said. “Everything starts with belief and if you don’t believe you might as well not play football. We believe we can achieve things this season.
“As a football fan I would love to be involved in a game against Real Madrid or Barcelona.”