Arsene Wenger’s decision to include Samir Nasri in the squad for tomorrow’s visit of Liverpool has already provoked great debate amongst Arsenal fans with many questioning how they are supposed to react to a player who will sign for Manchester City in the coming days.
Absent from the first game of the season at Newcastle United, but the subject of abuse all the same, Nasri’s decision to take to Twitter to defend his honour has only served to inflame an already toxic situation.
Of course, while the relationship between the French international and fans is strained, the fact remains that Arsenal are desperately short of midfield cover. Having finally sold Cesc Fabregas and with Tomas Rosicky, Abou Diaby, Jack Wilshere, Alex Song and Gervinho all unavailable, Wenger has little choice but to select a player who served as a lynchpin for much of last term…whether it angers people or not.
Asked in his weekly press conference how he expected the supporters to react should Nasri feature, Wenger went out of his way to defend the professionalism of his compatriot in the hope of nipping any negativity in the bud.
“The fans will want Arsenal to play a good football game and to win the game. I don’t think they make an individual case of each player who plays in a position. They want good players and to win the game.
“I don’t see how you can reproach Samir Nasri. His attitude in training, everybody can witness that, has been absolutely fantastic from the first day of pre-season.”
Challenged on the reaction of the Emirates crowd towards the now departed Emmanuel Eboue, who was booed from the field of play three years ago, Wenger retorted:
“That can happen in one game where you have a nightmare and the people turn against you, but our fans were big enough to forgive him for that and showed him their support in games after that.”
The relationship between the fans and Wenger and the fans and the players has been under the microscope for some time now with the media happy to throw fuel on the alleged bonfire of discontent. Nevertheless, despite the frustration bubbling below the surface, Wenger stressed that he still felt he could count on the majority of fans for their support.
“You have to be careful. We live in a modern democracy where everybody has the right to an opinion. It doesn’t always mean that a few opinions represent the majority. The unfortunate thing is that the extreme opinions get more media attention than those of people with normal common sense and intelligence.
“Because a few people have a bad opinion about one person doesn’t necessarily represent the majority of our fans. Our fans, in the majority, are behind our players and I think they will show that tomorrow.”