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English Premiership

Nasri all grown up

LONDON, December 15- Samir Nasri believes he has become a man while playing at Arsenal where he is currently enjoying a fine season as the Gunners push for the English Premier League title.The 23-year-old France midfielder has scored 12 goals so far this season and although he could not prevent a 1-0 defeat at Manchester United on Monday, Arsenal remain well placed.

Although that result knocked the Gunners off the top of the table and meant Arsenal had failed to beat either United or Chelsea, English football’s strongest teams of the last decade, in their last 11 matches against the duo, they can regain first place if they beat Stoke on Saturday.

Nasri, who has been a major factor in Arsenal’s push for a first major trophy since 2005, said an improved mental approach had been key to his form this season.

"I am playing higher up the wing now and the boss (Arsene Wenger) asks me to go in behind defenders because I have the ability to do it," said Nasri, who was a surprise omission from the French squad for the World Cup finals this year.

"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," added Nasri, who joined Arsenal two years ago.

"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.

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"If you feel like that, the opportunities come along naturally.

"I think more with my head – things are 90 percent 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."

And he said the whole experience of coming to England had toughened him up.

"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."

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