Nasri backs slick City to keep coming forward

Attacking midfielder is well aware of his defensive duties as Mancini's side try to replicate the Barcelona strategy of defending high up the pitch and counter-attacking with pace, writes Steve Tongue

The excitement of Manchester City's inaugural Champions' League campaign certainly provided a new experience for their French midfielder Samir Nasri: failing to qualify for the knockout stage. After three successful years in the competition with Arsenal, including one semi-final and one quarter-final, he was condemned on Wednesday night to the Europa League along with his new team-mates, the 2-0 home victory over a weakened Bayern Munich giving them 10 points, which was for once insufficient to merit a place in the last 16.

Yet the home crowd were in forgiving frame of mind, their mood further improved by hearing that Manchester United would also be contenders for Five's top billing on Thursday night TV. With an FA Cup tie at home to the old enemy to come, and then a Carling Cup semi-final with Liverpool, the Europa League is way down the agenda, clearly topped by the target of a first domestic League title in 44 years.

So the consolation to be drawn from Wednesday, Nasri believes, is to travel to Stamford Bridge tomorrow with a good win behind them, as well as the personal satisfaction of finding his own form more settled following the transition from Arsenal, whom he left amid some acrimony in August.

In a rare and thoughtful interview, he said: "It's good for the confidence going into a big game against Chelsea with a win against Bayern Munich. They are in good form as well so it will be an interesting game but we're prepared for this and will be fighting.

"Now I'm feeling better with the team. I needed a little bit of time to settle because I changed from Arsenal, it's not the same mentality and not the same way to play football. But the manager showed confidence in me, my team-mates as well, so now I'm confident about the future.

"I had six assists in the Premier League last year with Arsenal and I have the same already [with City]. You have lots of [options] when you have the ball in the last 30 metres and it is good to play with those types of players."

He is clear about his debt to Arsène Wenger, but says Roberto Mancini with his Italianate ways has instilled greater defensive discipline in his game: "Tactically, Italians are very strong. They are a lot into tactics, how to defend, when you lose the ball where will you be? He told me I know how to play with Arsenal, I play a lot and play good football, so for him the most important thing was that up front I know what to do, but defensively I have to improve, and I'm 24, I can improve a lot.

"He is someone who is never happy with the result. When we win 5-1, he wants his team to have a clean sheet. So he taught us how to defend and we agree, if we want to be one of the biggest teams in the world we have to improve as a team how to defend because we know how to score.

"And you can see that, you know, with David [Silva] or James [Milner] or Adam [Johnson] or me, when we play we defend as a team as well and we make an effort to help our defenders." This defending from the front has enabled City to change quickly to attack, bringing many of their 67 goals in all competitions this season. While Arsenal are generally regarded as the British team most like Barcelona in style, Nasri says his new club are trying to match the Catalans at winning the ball back and striking quickly.

"We play as a team and we defend very high. That is why we're able to score. Our model is Barcelona and the way they press really high. When you get the ball in the other half, it is always easier for you because you have less [distance] to run and you are more fresh in the last 30 metres. It's the way we want to play."

Not that admiration for Barcelona, and indeed Real Madrid, convinces him of La Liga's superiority after the Premier League's top two teams failed to qualify last week: "The problem is you lose too much energy when you play in the Premier League. Even when you play the team on the bottom it is difficult. Barcelona, when they play Almeria or someone, they win 8-0. In the Premier League you don't win 8-0 against Norwich or another team.

"It is a more demanding league at all levels. In Spain last year the difference between the second and the third was 20 points. But Barça and Real are good teams, they show it every year in the Champions' League."

Not, alas, against City this season. The teams for them to prove themselves against now are the former big four of English football, against whom they were noticeably weak away from home last season. In successive away games, City's title pretensions were finally undermined by defeats at Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge (2-0) and Anfield.

This season, as Nasri believes, results have indicated something altogether more authoritative. "It's difficult against Chelsea but it's difficult against Tottenham, Manchester United and Liverpool and we had great results against those teams, so I don't know what we have to fear about Chelsea," he says.

"We are confident about our quality and we will try to play the same game Liverpool did against them in the League. If you press them high and you play your football, they will be in difficulties."

Chelsea v Manchester City is on Sky Sports 1 tomorrow, kick-off 8pm

City on the road

Last season:

Tottenham 0 Manchester City 0

Arsenal 0 Manchester City 0

Manchester Utd 2 Manchester City 1

Chelsea 2 Manchester City 0

Liverpool 3 Manchester City 0

So far this season:

Tottenham 1 Manchester City 5

Manchester Utd 1 Manchester City 6

Liverpool 1 Manchester City 1

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little