Nasri’s growing Man City influence enhances quadruple claims
One of the best jokes to materialise after Manchester City’s Capital One Cup semi-final romp over West Ham is that Manuel Pellegrini’s men have now completed a 6-0, 6-3, 6-0 straight-set victory in tennis terms against London opposition at the Etihad this season.
What are not jokes are that Manchester City’s odds to win the Capital One Cup are now just 4/9, which is still a bigger price than Manchester United qualifying against Sunderland, and that Samir Nasri arguably produced his best-ever display since signing from Arsenal in 2011.
Nasri has understandably had to play second fiddle to David Silva in the creativity department since moving to the Etihad, with the Spaniard regularly at the forefront of most of Man City’s attacking play.
Since joining the Premier League, Silva has provided more key passes than any other player in the division and with an average of 3.7 per game, he played the most key passes across Europe’s top five leagues in 2013.
However, the Spaniard was certainly upstaged by Nasri against West Ham, with some of Nasri’s individual statistics being sensational.
He played 111 passes in the match and seven of these were regarded as key passes, both figures that trumped Silva and everyone else at the Etihad.
But what was particularly noteworthy was that his pass accuracy percentage was an incredible 98 per cent, compared to Silva, who completed just 86 per cent of his 83 passes.
Meanwhile, the majority of these passes were not a result of Nasri dropping back to the half-way line to be on the ball and then simply knocking it sideways or backwards to maintain possession.
The Frenchman played 80 of these passes in the West Ham half and although his success rate dropped in this regard, it was only to 97.5 per cent.
Pellegrini has to take a huge amount of credit for Nasri’s obvious improvement from last season and the lengths of this progress could be seen in the closing five minutes against West Ham when the game was already won.
Nasri could be seen tracking runners and chasing back to win possession, with his defensive contribution one of the areas that was previously called into question.
Across the season, Silva is somehow managing to better his already remarkable pass statistics, as he currently averages 4.1 key passes per game.
With Silva and Nasri playing at their peak, Jesus Navas also available to provide a speedier alternative out wide and Alvaro Negredo scoring for fun at the Etihad, more than one trophy looks on the cards for the club.
Given their form and the strength of their squad, 125/1 must be worth a fiver of anyone’s money that Man City do the quadruple this season of the Premier League, FA Cup, Capital One Cup and Champions League.