Nasri learns to keep his cool

France international Nasri, 23, has scored 12 goals this season but

was unable to help the Gunners avoid a defeat at Old Trafford on

Monday night which saw Manchester United overtake them at the top

of the table. However, with the Red Devils now not in action again

until Sunday when they travel to title rivals Chelsea, while

third-placed Manchester City – level on points with Arsenal – host

Everton on Monday evening, victory over Stoke at the Emirates

Stadium on Saturday would send Arsene Wenger’s men back to the

summit. Nasri, signed from Marseille in the summer of 2008, accepts

sometimes the Gunners need to ditch “the bullfighter’s outfit” and

sacrifice their “flamboyant style” in order to get results. He also

believes a positive mental approach has been key to his own

personal improvement this season. “I am playing higher up the wing

now and the boss asks me to go in behind defenders because I have

the ability to do it,” he said. “Sometimes it is just something in

your head, you think you can do it, you manage it once or twice and

then you say ‘yes, it is possible’. “Now I go behind defenders more

because I know I am able to. “When I am in front of a goalkeeper, I

am more relaxed now, before I felt too much pressure to score, I

wanted it too much maybe. “Now I don’t worry as much, I am more at

ease with the game and I am not looking for goals, I am looking to

work for the team. “If you feel like that, the opportunities come

along naturally. “I think more with my head – things are 90% in

your head and everything else comes after that. “If you can see

things earlier, you can anticipate the pass, the shot, everything

like that.” Nasri was not part of Les Bleus’ ill-fated squad out in

South Africa and has been named 2010 French player of the year by

France Football magazine. The midfielder believes he is more mature

for the whole experience. “Remember that before joining Arsenal, I

was at Marseille where it was easy for me because I was with my

family, I was born there and had played for them since I was nine,”

he said. “I came here on my own and you grow up more quickly that

way. It made a difference, because now I have become a man.”

Captain Cesc Fabregas, fit again following a hamstring problem,

striker Robin van Persie and England forward Theo Walcott all came

off the substitutes’ bench at Old Trafford and will be pressing to

start against the Potters. Combative midfielder Abou Diaby could

return to the squad after resuming training this week following an

ankle problem which has kept him sidelined since October. Young

Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny is another keen to get more

match action, having proved an able deputy against United for

Lukasz Fabianski, who was carrying a hip problem. “I really do

[want more now]. I wanted it before, but now I know how it feels to

play in the Premier League so I really want to get more of it and

come out with a clean sheet next time, and the three points,”

Szczesny told Arsenal TV Online. “We know we are a good side, our

confidence is not any lower than it was before the game. “We are

good enough to recover and if we want to aim for the title we have

to get all three points.” Arsenal, meanwhile, have been linked with

a £10million January move for Freiburg’s 25-year-old

Senegalese forward Papiss Demba Cisse, who is currently top scorer

in the Bundesliga.