Nasri: I want to play regularly for West Ham
Samir Nasri is hoping an impressive Premier League debut against his old club Arsenal will help him cement a place in the West Ham United starting XI.
The Frenchman produced an eye-catching performance on his Claret and Blue bow in last weekend’s Emirates FA Cup third-round win over Birmingham City.
But, on Saturday, he will face a far sterner test, on paper at least, as the Gunners arrive at London Stadium for a potentially mouth-watering derby.
Should he do well again, the new No18, who was signed on New Year’s Eve after completing a year-long WADA ban, is optimistic that he can establish himself in Manuel Pellegrini’s thoughts going forward.
I am a player who has a lot of confidence in my own ability and football is like riding a bike; once you know how to do it, you never forget how to do it
“I want to play regularly in the team,” insisted Nasri, who played 125 times for Arsenal between 2008-11. “I also want to have a season free from injury as when you are coming back from a year of not playing it is easy to pick up niggly injuries. I want to play as much as possible and help the team with goals and assists to help the club have a good second half of the season.
“I believe 100 per cent I am the same player I was before [my ban]. If you don’t believe in yourself, who will? I am a player who has a lot of confidence in my own ability and football is like riding a bike; once you know how to do it, you never forget how to do it.
“Once I get my fitness back, I believe I will be the player I was. I just feel blessed to have a second chance and want to look back in the future on more happy memories of this period of my career at West Ham.”
For Nasri, Saturday’s game will see him come face to face with a club he knows well, even if just two members of the Arsenal squad he left in 2011 are still at Emirates Stadium – Laurent Koscielny and Aaron Ramsey.
“I am really looking forward to it, I am excited,” he said. “Hopefully it will be my first taste of Premier League action again, after staying on the bench against Brighton. It will be great, in the past maybe I had some words with the Arsenal fans, but as I said I have nothing but love for the Arsenal fans as I had three amazing years at the club.”
While he has fond memories of his time in red and white, Nasri’s full focus is now on Claret and Blue and helping the Hammers enjoy a strong finish to the current campaign.
“I believe top eight would be a good season and to go far in the FA Cup,” he concluded. “We have a favourable draw and Liverpool are already out of the Cup, while some of the other big teams are playing against each other so we have a good opportunity to go far in the competition. That would be great for the club.”