Arsenal Go Top With Sami-Day Win Over Fulham

Arsenal 2 – 1 Fulham

1 – 0 Nasri (14)
1 – 1 Kamara (30)
2 – 1 Nasri (75)

Arsenal capitalised on another Chelsea stumble to ascend to the summit of the Premier League. A hard-earned but deserved victory was not achieved with the consumate ease that the opening thirty minutes suggested but nonetheless, it ended a mini-run of home defeats. Two moments of individual brillance have ensured the spotlight shines on Samir Nasri but more importantly they delivered the points.

An away victory over yesterday’s opponents was the trigger to top the table in 2001/02, a season which ended with the title returning to the club. That win was more clinical than this; the inhibitions of playing at home were there for all to see, striking indecision whilst the midfield was subdued and disjointed for large parts of the final hour.

Nasri though was not the only star. Johan Djourou arrived as a first half substitute, Laurent Koscielny’s replacement following a clash of heads, and was outstanding in defence. The year missed through injury is begining to look more costly than suspected at the time as once more the young Swiss was a rock in the centre as Fulham’s attempts to take points from this fixture became more direct.

Arsenal took the game to their London rivals. Time and again from the kick-off the hosts carved through the visitors defence, foundering as the pressure of playing at home stifled the finishing instincts of Arsenal’s talented forward line.

Before Nasri’s first mesmeric intervention, Arshavin and the Frenchman had wasted good opportunities, inaccuracy in their finishes kept the scoreboard untroubled. Amends would be made before fifteen minutes had passed. The duo combined on the edge of the area. Exhibiting exceptional confidence and close control, Nasri waltzed through the Fulham defence before rifling an stoppable shot into the top corner. Deadlock broken, a palpable sense of relief.

That should have signalled the floodgates opening but these are not the confident times of Summer’s late flourish. Wilshere could have shot but instead let the chance fall to Chamakh, who spurned the opportunity. Arshavin drew an uncomfortable save from Schwarzer, enjoying a better afternoon than a horror-show in May. That proved to be the case as he denied Nasri, clasping the ball to the safety of his midriff as Arshavin slid to pounce on any fumble.

Those misses would prove costly as Fulham equalised, a self-inflicted Arsenal wound. Koscielny and Squillaci went for the same ball, neither dominant enough to claim initial responsibility. The younger of the duo came off worst as his partner headed him in the face; groggy and disoriented, Koscielny had left space that Kamara exploited, feeding greedily on Dempsey’s pass to beat Fabianski.

Criticism came post-match that Chris Foy should have stopped play yet the apparent seriousness of the incident was not initially evident. Had Koscielny crumpled to the turf, play would surely have stopped. However, Foy would have been criticised for that decision as there was no Fulham player involved, any advantage accruing would have ceased through no fault of their own. That the defender did not render that a consideration is evidence of his concussion.

Before the interval, both sides would rue chances missed to take the lead. Sagna found Chamakh with an excellent cross, the Moroccan turning the ball at Schwarzer whilst Fabianksi stopped Kamara. The Pole is growing in stature with each game, finding it hard to win over his many critics entirely, odd instances in matches seized upon, diminishing the capable showing for the remainder of the game. Perhaps Wenger ending speculation over a Winter signing would help but it could equally tempt fate. A winner’s medal will perhaps be the only way to silence Fabianski’s detractors.

The second period commenced and resorted to the pattern of the first; Arsenal dominated by could not breach the visitor’s defence. Rosicky shot wide, the chance created by a muted and inconsistent Alex Song. The Cameroonian would blaze over with an angled drive, the shooting boots of recent months deserting him. Arshavin again was foiled by Schwarzer before the introduction of Robin van Persie for Tomas Rosicky added bite to the attack.

The Czech has been touted as the ‘natural’ replacement for Cesc whilst he is injured. Yesterday was an infuriatingly anonymous afternoon which did his cause in this respect no good. Fortunately there is a welter of evidence to contrary that Rosicky is capable of the creative role.

van Persie’s first telling contribution was not as expected, clearing off the line to prevent Fulham taking a hugely undeserved lead. Arsenal missed Denilson’s ability to retain possession with short, sensible passing to feed attacks. Yet the winner came from exactly that.

The Dutchman had a shooting opportunity, instead sliding the ball into Nasri’s path. Gliding through the defence and rounding Schwarzer with ease, Arsenal’s Player of the Season so far completed the balletic movement with a pirouette to turn the ball home from a tight angle. It was an outstanding finish, a goal by a player completely at ease with the ball and on top form, signalled by his calmness when English counterparts would suffer from a rush of blood.

A late intervention by Fabianski would prevent Gera from denying Arsenal top spot.

Top of the League in December is not a guarantee that the same will follow in May. The next three weeks are a good opportunity to take a giant stride in that direction with the fixtures that have to take place. In the meantime, let’s enjoy looking down on others.

’til Tomorrow.

 

134 thoughts on “Arsenal Go Top With Sami-Day Win Over Fulham

  1. Poliziano says:

    I’m afraid Joe is in urgent need of a visit to a psychiatrist. It’s true, man utd have a game in hand, and they will go ahead of us if they win it. One might say, Let’s enjoy our time at the top whilst it lasts. Instead, Joe is like a man who says he can’t enjoy the summer because winter is only a few months away.

  2. Joe says:

    Yogi,

    It was us who imploded in 2007/2008 and I certainly remember it clearly.
    We were good enough then and should have won the league.

    Similarly, we’ve been good enough in the past to not only win more league titles but a European Cup also and we failed to get over the line.

    So far this season, despite the fact we have at times played some mesmerising football – we have still shown just how naive our defense and poor our attitude has been in enough games to harbor genuine concerns.

    Top of the league my bollox – any one of 5/6 teams could be top of the league with the general level of inconsistency so its a false positive. Top of the league only matters at one time in the season – and thats at the end.

    You may say I’m miserable, thats your opinion but over the past few years on this blog – I’ve been proved right more often than not. And so long as we continue to concede in almost every game we play – I don’t think this team will win a major trophy.

  3. Bill says:

    Good win for us yesterday. Nasri seems to have made the leap to a true top level player “world class” player. Can’t wait to see RVP and Chamakh and Nasri in the same line up. Hope the Kos is not out for long. If he is we are going to be really short at CB. Djourou making a great case for automatic inclusion in the team sheet.

    I wish there was more time to celebrate top of the league.. 2 huge games this week. Absolutely have to win against Partizan and a draw at OT and we will have some real momentum.

  4. Paul N says:

    The whole point is you enjoy your team when they do win, if not there is no point in supporting a team.

    So due to the fact thatwe havent won the PL in the past few seasons (07-08 was much more than a simple implosion) that means one remains in a constant state of misery due to the fact that we may not win?

    What a sad and sick state of mind to be in.

  5. Yogi's Warrior says:

    No actually Joe, 5 or 6 teams cannot be top of the table – they simply don’t have anywhere near enough points. Miserable and soulless young man. Football is about the ups and downs – supporting Arsenal is more of the former than the latter. If you cannot grasp that concept, try another team although not one team in living memory has won every game in a season so you’ll be a bit screwed on that point.

    Oh and by the way, we’ve never won the European Cup. Inter City Fairs Cup; yes. European Cup Winners Cup; yes. European Cup; no. And that has nothing to do with the current squad, simply that the competition ceased to exist 19 years ago and none of the current squad’s predecessors got anywhere near winning it.

  6. LimparAssist says:

    Joe really is the giddy limit.

    Well said, Paul N.

    Bill, Vermaelen is due back for the Chelsea game day after Boxing Day, and Koscielny is ‘up to three weeks’, which is the standard concussion reccuperation time. Johan and Big Squills til then.

    Funny; our centreback was full-on chinned like Foreman, reeling with a traumatic brain injury, and the papers imply it was some embarrassing mix-up between two namby-pamby frenchmen.

  7. Maria says:

    LA,

    On Talkspite, they nominated him for pansy of the week, but then decided to give it to Eboue for wearing white tights mid-week. Says it all.

  8. Passenal says:

    So you get a concussion, you’re out for 3 weeks and this qualifies you for being a pansy? I’d like to smash a few of those talkspite plundits heads together and see how they like it, but then again, no sense, no feeling. Isn’t that what they say?

  9. Two Owls says:

    Hopefully, Joe, Arsenal will not disappoint y0u this season. However, in the world of sports like so many other things in life, success is not a given. Try to focus on the pleasureable things that the team provides such as Samir Nasri, who, alone was worth the price of admission. What a talent! Do you feel that? Do not punish yourself unnecessarily by not being satisfied with the team. There are few moments in life that are actually near perfection and you may live a long time before you experience a Samir Nasri again.

  10. shottagunna says:

    Maria – You are on a roll today. After nearly half a day up my ceiling among saw dust and dry wall, coming down to and seeing those videos made my day.
    Passenal – You have every right to jump on the Samir Nasri bandwagon.
    Lastly, straight to the chest of that miserable git Joe – We are top of the league!

  11. Poliziano says:

    “I’d like to smash a few of those talkspite plundits heads together and see how they like it, but then again, no sense, no feeling. Isn’t that what they say?”

    I think it would at least be worth the experiment.

  12. Delia---Block 112 says:

    Managed to get to the game in spite of the weather and was rewarded by Samir’s truly magical goals , more than worth the ticket price. On the positive side Clichy had just about his best game of the season, our little Russian seemed to be running on the euphoria of his successful performance in Zurich ,JD was great in the air when he came on and should have started the game and there were some encouraging touches from RVP.
    However, there was chaos at the back when we conceded their goal, Song was not at the races , Theo made no impression when he came on and I simply cannot understand why Nasri is played out wide and not in the centre of mid-field when Cesc is absent. The England/ France match was proof that he needs to be in that playmaker role for full effect.
    It was the usual edge of the seat stuff but we are on top of the league and must not be too critical. So onwards and upwards the next 8 days and then hopefully we might have something to really shout about.
    As always COYRs

  13. Maria says:

    Just to finish I had to include you know who….

  14. Yogi's Warrior says:

    Well Limpar, watching the incident again last night, I’d say that it was a defensive mix-up and that it is unsurprising Foy did not stop play as Kos tried to tackle the Fulham player in possession. Hey ho…

  15. Luke says:

    Writers who wrote of 360 degrees pirouette (Nasri scoring our second goal), 360 deg changes, etc., don’t know their basic maths.

  16. Luke says:

    Credit for the win also goes to the sublime assists of Arshavin and RvP (who could have shot using his favoured left peg). However, Nasri had a lot to do to convert those chances. Sheer magic by Nasri.

  17. Luke says:

    Of concern is that Nasri seemed to be struggling towards the end of the match with all permitted substitutes used. Any injury update so far?

  18. Luke says:

    Nasri’s case is another classic testimony of Arsenal/Wenger’s excellent scouting system in bringing in players with the potential to complement what we need.

  19. LimparAssist says:

    I wasn’t suprised either, YW. Foy had already started awarding 50/50 decisions Fulham’s way, to allow them to make the most of their sporadic (putting it kindly) possession in the first half. Levelling the playing field as referees at the Arsenal Stadium are prone to do. I wasn’t surprised at all when he let Kamara stick the ball in the net having strolled passed a centreback whose brain was still juddering in its own cerebrospinal fluid.

    I was suprised though, when the paper I read labelled the incident ’embarrassing’ before calling for a Tony Adams type – who would surely have played on regardless like The Original Toughman.

  20. LimparAssist says:

    …Or rather, shaken it off like Tom & Jerry and made the tackle. Kos was the victim of his own blind courage and should have in fact hit the deck when he first suffered the trauma – turns out he wasn’t exactly thinking straight though.

  21. Team Spirit says:

    The papers/pundits are definitely a strange lot and its really scrapping the bottom of the barrel when they have now gone as far as take advantage of an obvious head injury to look to call arsenal defense weak and frail!

    Nice to be top of the table… The week should turn out fine with victories against partizan and man u.

    I expected us to be top in December… although we are just barely there rasher than the at least 3 points clear i expected, we are fully on track to remain on top! its onwards and upwards from here!

  22. duke Goonem says:

    Fukin el i thought i was a miserable git but joe you take being miserable to a new level. no point asking if your looking forward to christmas then is there.

  23. duke Goonem says:

    Kos should have gone down the hard nut, then we would have had a clean sheet. I bet Wenger had a go at him about that and he will not be staying up next time for sure.

  24. LimparAssist says:

    I hope JET goes out on loan to Aston Villa or Everton. They are both struggling to score (though not against Chelsea), and they both play a decent possession game. I think he’d soon be a starter for either side.

  25. LimparAssist says:

    Aaron Ramsey’s match today has been postponed due to bad weather.

  26. The Troof says:

    You know fellow supporters we are going to have to win at least two cups this season before we get any respect from the british tabloid media talkshite continues to live up to it’s name, the scum newspaper and the daily mirror continue to show they are anti Arsenal.. Can someone reccommend a well balanced sprts suppliment and a good sports radio station. Other than winning trophies to shut these people up I would like to hurt them in different ways… any ideas..

    The Troof Speaks again

  27. Geo says:

    Troof – I say a pair of plyers and a blow torch, get medievil on their asses…

    Seriously though, i know of no british media sources that love the Arse. Other than a few blogs like this one dotted about…

  28. OneOfUs says:

    Mark Hughes is painting himself as some kind of pioneering tactical genius – laying the tracks for other teams to give us trouble. The trick, he says, is to get in their faces and try and catch out their CBs with balls over the top. Amazing insight. I don’t think any other sides have tried that against us this season.

    Truth is we should have been 3-up by the time they got their lucky goal. After that we had the weight of our previous home struggles on our shoulders, while having to adjust at the back.

    I agree that none of the midfielders played particularly well. And I’m a fan of Rosicky, but is there a case for RvP taking that number 10 role? Or would that be just too gung-ho?

    As for Song bombing forward – I accept that he doesn’t quite have the awareness of AA and Cesc, but he can be pretty unpredictable, does have good technique and an eye for goal. Also important is his physique – we don’t really have anyone with his build in our attack, and it certainly causes problems for sides when he’s on form.

    Kenny Sansom’s talks so much nonsense, but he did mention something that I’ve often wondered – isn’t it interesting how defenders often favour attacking football when they become managers, while the opposite is often true of former attacking players.

  29. veteran says:

    Arsene saying on Arsenal.com that the defence is good enough to win the league.
    Now there is not much that i do not agree with the great man but im afraid i do on that point.
    Perhaps with a fit again Verm together with a match fit Djourou who i thought had an outstanding second half we might just do it, but it would take both United and Chelsea to totally implode for that to happen.
    Ive never seen the defence so likely to concede than the current one.
    I hope im wrong, please let me be surprised.

  30. goonerwife says:

    i have every faith in this side. i also believe the defense is good enough, though i wouldnt blame you for believing othewise seeing as how the media is literally turning arsenal fans on their own.
    YES WE CAN BOYS!!

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