RM: Nasri needs to get better

Nasri has failed to command a regular spot in Mancini’s impressive

side since his high-profile £24million move from the Gunners

in August. The France international showed glimpses of his talent

as he made four successive starts recently but he was back on the

bench as the Premier League leaders lost at Chelsea on Monday. The

24-year-old faces stiff competition for a place in star-studded

City’s midfield but Mancini has no doubts about his ability.

Mancini said: “In my opinion Nasri is a champion – a top, top

player. “I think he can do more but when you change teams you can

have a problem. “At this moment his confidence is maybe not very

good because he didn’t play against Chelsea but if he plays Sunday

he has a chance to show us. “I would like Nasri to play better,

because he is a really good player.” Mancini similarly demanded

improvement from winger Adam Johnson earlier this season despite

some impressive performances from the former Middlesbrough man.

Mancini believes players of their talent should be delivering to

high standards consistently, yet he accepts he cannot always

accommodate them. He said: “When you play with two strikers and

Samir and (David) Silva, you have more chances because you attack.

“But there will be some moments when it is difficult to support all

the offensive players all the time. “I need to change sometimes but

Samir is a good player.” Nasri’s recent run in the side included

the Carling Cup quarter-final victory at Arsenal, during which he

was barracked throughout by home supporters. He responded with a

superb performance in the 5-1 thrashing of Norwich and Mancini now

wants him to step up again, especially with midfield linchpin Yaya

Toure heading to the African Nations Cup in January. Mancini said:

“I think we will lose an important player but I hope Samir can play

more games at a higher level. “He is a top player. Every game a

player like that should contribute.” The 2-1 defeat at Stamford

Bridge ended City’s impressive unbeaten start to the campaign. They

now face a tough task to get back to winning ways as the Gunners

visit the Etihad Stadium on a fine run of form. Arsene Wenger’s

side have won seven of their last eight matches and their talisman

Robin van Persie is the league’s top goalscorer with 15. Mancini

said: “Van Persie is an incredible player. “He is like (Sergio)

Aguero, (Edin) Dzeko, Mario (Balotelli) – scoring a goal every

game. “At this moment he is very good, like Arsenal. At this moment

they are playing very well.” For all their domestic dominance this

season, City could be second come kick-off if Manchester United

beat QPR earlier in the day. Mancini said: “At the moment, us,

United and maybe Tottenham are the three teams that can fight for

the title. “But the season is long. Chelsea, Arsenal and, maybe,

Liverpool could also try. “The season is hard. We have a lot of

games to play in the next 40 days.”