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Dec, 15, 2010

Nasri: Time to roll sleeves up

Samir Nasri has accused his Arsenal team-mates of neglecting their defensive duties because they are too preoccupied with playing "flashy" football.

The post-mortem has begun after the Gunners slumped to a disappointing 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford, and Nasri has apparently disagreed with Arsene Wenger's assessment that the pitch was to blame for Arsenal's loss.

Instead the France international, who has been one of the league's star players this season, has hinted that his team-mates did not work hard enough.

"Goals and flamboyant football don't pose a problem for me," Nasri said. "The essential thing, though, is my team wins and we're in it at the end. Sometimes you have to store away your flashy clothes in the cupboard and work for the team."

Nasri has also revealed that he confronted Patrice Evra before the United game after his international colleague said Arsenal's five-year trophy drought represented a "crisis".

"I don't want to get involved in controversy too much," he said. "I spoke to Patrice a bit before the game and told him these are things he shouldn't have said and that the best answer is always given out on the pitch."

The Gunners have a chance to reclaim top spot against Stoke on Saturday, with title rivals Chelsea and United facing off at Stamford Bridge the following day.

Nasri was on Wednesday voted French player of the year by France Football magazine. he topped the voting with 99.5 points from Chelsea midfielder Florent Malouda (90) and Lyon goalkeeper Hugo Lloris (83). Lyon playmaker Yoann Gourcuff won the prestigious award last year, with Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery having taken the accolade in 2007 and 2008.

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny said of the loss at Old Trafford: "We were disappointed with the result but we still believe we are one of the top sides, if not the best in the league. We feel we can beat pretty much everyone, that we can recover for the game on Saturday and be back in the race.

"I think the team performance was quite good. We just didn't get as much luck as United did. They probably had more chances to score but I felt the goal was pretty lucky. I don't think Park actually meant to head the ball. It just hit him on the head and went into the top corner.

"With a little bit more luck we could have got something out of the game and we're still confident we are the top side in the Premier League.

"Of course they're beatable. Everyone is beatable. The Premier League is very tight this year. They do have a very solid back four but they are beatable and I think if we had a little more focus up front we could've scored a couple of goals. They had the bit of luck and it worked for them."

Szczesny is confident that the Gunners will bounce back from that defeat: "Win or lose we talk to each other and we wanted to pick ourselves up after the game. We've a lot of experienced players and everyone tries to help each other. There's still a good spirit in the team. We don't get too down.

"We're still very confident and as long as we recover for Saturday and put in the right performance we can get three points and be right back in the title race. I think we can add a little something to our game."

The United game was Szczesny's Premier League debut with Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Fabianski both ruled out. On his top-flight bow he told the Sun: "I really enjoyed it. I felt some pressure before the game but I didn't feel nervous. Overall I enjoyed it, apart from the result.

"I'm the reserve keeper and have to take every chance I get. I thought it went pretty well. Unfortunately it didn't help us to get any points. But this is my big chance and I intend to take it.

"I did prepare myself for a Rooney penalty before the game. I actually decided to try to delay him, show him my presence and hope for the best.

"Maybe my presence put him off and made him miss it. It's obviously a mental battle between the goalkeeper and the striker, a psychological battle, so I tried to stand off my line for as long as possible, until the referee put me on the line. Then I made myself big and thankfully he missed."

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