Home » EPL » Match Report: Arsenal 2 Fulham 1

Fabio Capello was at the Emirates today to watch Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott but, at the end of a dismal week for English football, it was perhaps inevitable that it was Arsenal’s foreign stars who should dazzle.

And none more than Samir Nasri, who scored two outstanding individual goals to seal a 2-1 win that, with Manchester United not playing and Chelsea only drawing, takes Arsenal to the top of the Premier League table.

Having lost their past two home league games, Arsenal began with an emphatic statement of intent, creating no fewer than six clear chances in the opening 25 minutes.

Just as against Aston Villa last week, the slick passing and interchanging of positions between Andrei Arshavin, Tomas Rosicky and Nasri initially threatened to overwhelm their opponents.

Arshavin was the first to dart into space behind the Fulham defence, but his volley was well smothered by Mark Schwarzer. Arshavin then provided a defence-splitting pass for Nasri, whose finish was flicked past Schwarzer but also the outside of the post.

However, on 14 minutes, Nasri was rather more clinical after again being played into a promising position by Arshavin.

Showing the quick feet that so mesmerised England at Wembley last month, Nasri shifted the ball inside both Brede Hangeland and Aaron Hughes before shooting powerfully past Schwarzer.

With Arshavin, Alex Song and Marouane Chamakh all missing further chances to extend the lead, it began to feel like it would be an afternoon of damage limitation for Fulham.

Indeed, Mark Hughes took the highly unusual step of substituting a defender – Matthew Briggs – after just 28 minutes for the simple reason that he had been completely unable to handle Nasri.

Yet not for the first time this season, Arsenal’s defence were to inflict damage upon themselves. Sebastien Squillaci and Laurent Koscielny both went to clear the same ball, with Koscielny suffering a head injury in the collision.

Despite being groggy, his initial reaction was to play on and, with Koscielny holding his face in his hands, Clint Dempsey split the Arsenal defence for Diomansy Kamara, who confidently directed his finish past Fabianksi.

Fulham were suddenly buoyant and could have taken the lead on the stroke of half-time when Kamara again found space behind the Arsenal defence only to have his shot well saved by Fabianski.

Arsenal recovered control of possession at the beginning of the second-half but their confidence in the final third had clearly been dented and, with Chris Baird performing admirably in place of Briggs, Fulham were generally able to restrict the danger to shots from distance.

They were also creating a more regular threat themselves, with Simon Davies and Dempsey particularly effective from the flanks.

Wenger turned to his options on the bench, introducing Robin van Persie to almost immediate effect.

Van Persie unselfishly laid the ball off for Nasri, who skilfully dribbled past John Pantsil and Schwarzer before brilliantly turning to finish from a narrow angle.

Fabianski then produced a vital diving save in the 88th minute from Zoltan Gera to seal Arsenal’s victory.

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