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Premier League

  • December 4, 2010
  • • 15:00
  • • Emirates Stadium, London
  • Referee: C. Foy
  • • Attendance: 60049
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Arsenal 2-1 Fulham: Sensational Samir Nasri Bags A Brace As Gunners Advance In Premier League Title Race

Arsenal 2-1 Fulham: Sensational Samir Nasri Bags A Brace As Gunners Advance In Premier League Title Race

Laurent Koscielny stretchered off as home side's defensive problems mount...

Arsenal managed to put two past Fuham despite some fragile defending to move ahead in their quest to win 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. But the French international eclipsed his earlier effort with an even better goal to ensure that his side took three points on the day.

The Gunners boss Arsene Wenger made nine changes to the side that beat Wigan Athletic in a midweek game in the League Cup. And of the changes he made, Samir Nasri and Sebastien Squillaci returned to action as they made a a recovery from slight knee injuries.

Lukasz Fabianski was the No 1 for this game, as Manuel Almunia sustained a fresh elbow injury in training that kept him out of this encounter. And in the absence of Cesc Fabregas, Tomas Rosicky led the team as the Gunners looked to push further up the table.

The visitors' 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. And in the meantime, full-back Carlos Salcido was unable to feature owing to a recurrence of a hamstring problem.

And so began the London derby with two teams closing in on two diametrically opposite ends of the table, with the Gunners looking upwards with their opponents looking to stay away from the relegation zone.

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 had 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 scored 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 Squilacci initially, which allowed the visitors to get a little extra time on the ball. This was Clint Dempsey send the ball to Kamara, who was able to put the ball into the back of the net.

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 in place of the injured defender, as concerns mounted concerning the back line 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 it as he managed to make a save and prevent the opponents from taking the lead. But the striker would likely have felt he should have scored on that occasion.


Fantastic goal | Nasri continued his rich vein of form by scoring a superb goal

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 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 back line looking fragile and the home side playing out an all too familiar scenario, the home side's fans took out their frustration on Clint 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, 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 the 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 move forward in the title race.

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