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Manchester City's Samir Nasri has no regrets about leaving Arsenal

The French midfielder has seen his former club knocked out of two competitions this week while City are still in the hunt for the Premier League title and the Europa League. Video interview

Manchester City's Samir Nasri has failed to replicate his Arsenal form so far at the Etihad Stadium.
Manchester City's Samir Nasri has failed to replicate his Arsenal form so far at the Etihad Stadium.

MANCHESTER // Manchester City are not Arsenal. It is a statement of the obvious, but the difference is particularly marked to Samir Nasri, who has sampled life at both the Emirates and the Etihad Stadium.

To all intents and purposes, the Frenchman's former employers tumbled out of two competitions in the space of four, demoralising days last week, a 4-0 Champions League thrashing by AC Milan followed by a 2-0 FA Cup defeat at Sunderland.

He and his City teammates, meanwhile, are Premier League leaders and embarking on a two-pronged pursuit of silverware.

It continues tonight in the Europa League against Porto. City have the advantage after becoming a rare visiting team to win at the Estadio do Dragao last Thursday, Sergio Aguero clinching a 2-1 victory. It was a hard-fought triumph but one that highlights where his current club are flourishing and his old colleagues floundering.

While the Arsenal midfield were criticised for their lack of defensive diligence against both Milan and Sunderland, the same cannot be said of their industrious City counterparts in their last two games, away wins at Aston Villa and Porto. They were not, Nasri says, the definition of the beautiful game but craft and graft are of equal importance.

"Sometimes it's good to win ugly. You don't always have to play good football to win," said the 24-year-old midfielder. It is a requirement for his old club, however, and their last trophy came in 2005.

"Arsenal play good football but after seven years they don't win so that's difficult for them but they have a good philosophy."

They seem to be two clubs travelling in different directions, but Arsenal's decline saddens Nasri. "I don't want Arsenal to fall down," he said. "I wanted them to win the FA Cup or something because I have respect for the players and the manager."

His own departure, along with the sale of Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona, was one of the causes of Arsenal's problems. "I know from the start that I made the right choice," Nasri added. Nevertheless, a player who was shortlisted for the PFA Player of the Year award in his third and final year in London has struggled to replicate his Arsenal form in the blue of City.

Acclimatising to a new side has taken time, while Nasri is becoming accustomed to the defensive demands Roberto Mancini places on his attack-minded talents. Now he feels the adjustment process is going smoothly.

"It's always tough when you go to another team and have to be involved 100 per cent and I wasn't. Now I start to be settled and you will see a better Samir every week," he vowed.

"At Arsenal I was playing a little bit higher [up the pitch] and here we are 4-4-2 so you have to work more defensively. Now I want to show everyone it [his move] wasn't a mistake and give something to the team and the people who bring you in and trust you."

His fee was eye-catching, but Nasri is adamant it did not put any more pressure on him. "I never asked City to pay £24 million (Dh140.4m)," he said.

 

While Arsene Wenger's frugal approach has not brought Arsenal major honours, money, Nasri insists, does not win anything either.

"Money doesn't buy team spirit," he said. "It's the players who come straight involved in the team and want to win something. Here we are hungry because we want to win titles."

There is a sizeable roadblock on their route to glory in both Premier League and Europa League - Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson's side, who have a 2-0 lead against Ajax, are also heading for the last 16. "For us it would be a good derby in the final," Nasri said. "But we're not there yet."

sports@thenational.ae