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Premier League

  • 4 December 2010
  • • 15:00
  • • Emirates Stadium, London
  • Referee: C. Foy
  • • Attendance: 60049

Arsenal 2-1 Fulham: Sensational Samir Nasri bags a brace as Gunners go top of the Premier League

Arsenal 2-1 Fulham: Sensational Samir Nasri bags a brace as Gunners go top of the Premier League

But Laurent Koscielny stretchered off as defensive problems mount

Arsenal managed to put two past Fuham to take all three points at the Emirates, despite some fragile defending, and move to the top of the Premier League.

Samir Nasri opened the scoring with a superbly crafted goal, but a collision of heads in the Gunners' back line saw Diomansy Kamara restore equilibrium in the tie. However, the Frenchman eclipsed his earlier effort with an even better goal to seal victory for the Gunners.

Manager Arsene Wenger made nine changes to the side that beat Wigan Athletic in midweek  in the League Cup. Of the changes he made, Samir Nasri and Sebastien Squillaci returned to action as they made a a recovery from minor knee injuries.

Lukasz Fabianski took his place in goal, as Manuel Almunia sustained a fresh elbow injury in training that kept him out of this encounter. In the absence of Cesc Fabregas, Tomas Rosicky led the team as the Gunners looked to push further up the table.

Visiting boss Mark Hughes had Andy Johnson back after the striker returned from a hamstring injury that had kept him out of the draw with Birmingham City last week. But the forward had to settle for a spot on the bench whilse full-back Carlos Salcido was unable to feature owing to a recurrence of a hamstring problem.

Arsenal began the game in a very positive manner by dominating play right from the start, as Nasri, Jack Wilshere and Alex Song managed to dictate play in the midfield.

In one of the free-flowing moves by the Gunners, Wilshere sent in a cross that saw Squillaci send the ball for Andrey Arshavin to take a volley. It was almost as though time  stood still for the Russian to take the shot, but he only managed to send the ball straight at goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.

But it was not long before the visiting side's defence cracked, as Nasri managed to score his 10th goal in 13 starts for his side. The Frenchman invited two challenges, feigned on both occasions, and remained calm and composed to fire the ball into the top right hand corner. It was a goal that even a striker such as Thierry Henry - who was in the crowd - would have been proud of.

The home side were in full swing and were looking like steamrolling past their opponents as they had several chances, but on each occasion the finish was found wanting. In the meantime, the Cottagers slowly plugged away and began to take the game to their opponents after a brief spell of possession.

And in one of their attacks, Laurent Koscielny collided with Squillaci initially, which allowed the visitors to get a little extra time on the ball. Clint Dempsey then sent the ball to Kamara, who was able to put the ball into the back of the net and level the scores.

Koscielny was on the ground for a some time after the collision, but was unable to get up and was eventually stretchered off. Johan Djourou came on in place of the injured defender, but Arsenal now have problems in defence particularly with Thomas Vermaelen still injured.

Poor anticipation from Djourou saw Kamara break through on goal as he went one-on-one with the 'keeper, but Fabianski was up to it as he managed to make a save and prevent Fulham from taking the lead. However, the striker will feel he should have scored on that occasion.

Match winner | Nasri continued his rich vein of form by scoring twice

Arsenal began the second-half in a morose manner, as some sloppy passing coupled with defending that lacked anticipation was beginning to look like it could be a problem.

But the stand-in captain Rosicky managed to show some positivity, as he fired a half-volley that looked like it was going in but eventually missed the target. This appeared to have had an effect on his team-mates, as it was only a few minutes before some fleet-footed play from Arshavin saw him beat two defenders before firing a well struck low shot in heavy traffic. But all the same, Schwarzer managed to produce a superb save to keep his side in the game.

Both full-backs, Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna, were beginning to go forward more as the manager decided to make a change and replace a midfielder with another striker, with Rosicky being substituted as Robin van Persie came on.

With the backline looking fragile and the home side playing out an all too familiar scenario, the home side's fans took out their frustration on Dempsey as he went down and stayed down claiming to be injured. But the referee put things in perspective as he ordered the player to get up as the game continued.

With 15 minutes left to go, it was Nasri who rose above the rest of the players to be the saviour. The 23-year-old Frenchman showed brilliant poise and control to superbly dance past Aaron Hughes and John Pantsil as he rushed goalwards. Having ended up with a tight angle, the midfielder turned and sent in a wonderful shot to give his side the all-important lead. It was a goal that could very well be a strong contender for goal of the season.

Fulham staged a bit of a fight back late on as Zoltan Gera fired a well struck shot that went goalwards, but Fabianski was on hand to produce a good save to ensure that his side kept their advantage.

As the man in charge brought the game to a halt, Nasri's brilliant performance saw Arsenal jump ahead of rivals Manchester United and Chelsea to sit top of the Premier League

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