MADRID, SPAIN - MARCH 18: Nuri Sahin of Real Madrid warms up during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Malaga CF at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on March 18, 2012 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
It was a fairly quiet debut for Liverpool loanee Nuri Sahin, with the midfielder failing to make the instant impact the likes of Joe Allen and Raheem Sterling had in past weeks but also avoiding doing anything especially wrong—and on a day when Luis Suarez, Fabio Borini, Steven Gerrard, and Pepe Reina were all varying degrees of awful, simply not doing anything especially wrong might be more worthy of praise than it would seem on the surface.
Sahin's day was marked by an easy, at times almost languid control of the ball that allowed him to look calm no matter the situation, and his passing and close control were hard to fault. At times, however, he appeared to wander on the left, moving from being the deepest midfielder to the most attacking to even taking up positions normally reserved for Jose Enrique as Liverpool sought to build possession. It's possible this was by design, but if so it represented something the club hadn't seen before Sunday from the left-sided CM under Brendan Rodgers, and at times Sahin's drifting appeared more aimless than purposeful while often seeming poorly coordinated with his teammates.
Whichever the case, though—whether it was by design or inclination—one would expect further practice and playing time will lead to Sahin appearing better integrated into the side, and on the whole that some positional awkwardness when Liverpool had the ball was his biggest negative on the day only reinforces that he was solid if unspectacular against Arsenal.
It was also obvious towards the end of his time on the pitch that he was lacking in match fitness, and as the second half wore on he began to tire, leading to his eventual substitution for Jonjo Shelvey despite that there were others on the pitch who had played worse. Still, there were clear signs in his performance against Arsenal—which included a 93% pass completion rate, joint top with Joe Allen—that suggest that when he gets up to speed he will be a solid addition to Liverpool's midfield for the coming season. Which just leaves figuring out what to do in attack.