Author Topic: Sunday Fulham Stuff (05.12.10)  (Read 4851 times)

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Sunday Fulham Stuff (05.12.10)
« on: December 05, 2010, 07:19:32 AM »

Roberto Di Matteo wants Cameroon star Pierre Webo at The Hawthorns

Dec 5 2010

By Hotline, The People

WEST BROM boss Roberto Di Matteo is weighing up a £2million January bid for Real Mallorca hitman Pierre Webo.

The 28-year-old Cameroon international, who has also attracted attention from Fulham and Wigan, could be on his way out despite an impressive recent goalscoring run.

Check out Webo in action during the 2010 World Cup below.

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Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (05.12.10)
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2010, 07:21:33 AM »

Fulham and Aston Villa to enter bidding war for Robbie Keane and Michael Carrick
Dec 5 2010

By Alan Nixon and Dave Kidd, The People

FULHAM boss Mark Hughes is ready to take on Aston Villa in the bidding for Michael Carrick and Robbie Keane.

Hughes will be given cash to improve his side and is willing to go for Manchester United midfield man Carrick and Tottenham striker Keane, who are both targets for Villa chief Gerard Houllier.

Sir Alex Ferguson may decide Carrick can go at the end of the season – or even in the January transfer window.

Villa have put Carrick on their wish list as Gerard Houllier looks to add some class to his team.

Keane has been on Villa’s radar since before Houllier’s summer arrival and Spurs are willing to offload him in January to help fund a move for a world-class striker.

But Hughes also wants the Irishman – although a dispute between Fulham and Spurs over Peter Crouch’s switch to White Hart Lane last summer means relations between the clubs are poor.

Fulham chairman Mohamed Al Fayed has claimed that Premier League chairman Sir Dave Richards persuaded Crouch to sign for Spurs rather than Fulham, who had been close to sealing a deal with Portsmouth. The row is set to be settled in an arbitration hearing.

Carrick, meanwhile, is happy at Old Trafford, but Fergie may trade him as he looks to wheel and deal to bring in the new faces he needs for other key positions in the next 12 months.

Hughes would go as high as Villa – around £7 to £8million – if a bidding battle starts. Both know the price of Premier League failure and are willing to splash out to help their cause.

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Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (05.12.10)
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2010, 07:25:17 AM »

Celtic make loan bid for unhappy Aston Villa midfielder Stephen Ireland
Dec 5 2010

By Alan Nixon, The People

UNSETTLED Aston Villa midfielder Stephen Ireland is wanted by Celtic.

He has had an unhappy time since moving from Manchester City in August and has yet to hit it off with boss Gerard Houllier, who joined a month later.

Celtic want to take Ireland on loan for the rest of the season.

It mirrors the Bhoys’ coup in signing Tottenham’s ­Robbie Keane until May – ironically, he is still being linked with a move to Villa.

Ireland would jump at the chance if no big English clubs are ­interested in him.

Villa would prefer to recoup some of the ­£7million they spent on him but could be ­persuaded to allow him out on loan.

Celtic boss Neil Lennon is chasing a couple of new faces after assessing his squad in their title race with Rangers, and feels Ireland would fit the bill.

Celtic could pick up the bulk of his wages, with Villa looking to offset as much of the £60,000-a-week salary as possible.

Houllier has been leaving Ireland out of the side despite the club’s injury problems and there will be new arrivals in the January transfer ­window fighting for a ­midfield slot, so a move looks the best solution.

Ireland quit Manchester City because he was out of their plans but would not fall foul of the rule which ­prevents a player from representing three clubs in a season ­because he did not appear for Roberto Mancini’s side this season.

The 24-year-old would ­relish the chance to show his quality at Celtic and it could suit all parties, putting him in the shop window and ­possibly setting up a ­permanent move.

While Ireland is heading for the exit, Houllier is keen to bring in French striker Nolan Roux, 22, whose goals have fired surprise side Brest to the top of the table.

He was watched by Villa scouts in his last two games and could be one of ­several players captured by Houllier.

Roux has been with Brest for a couple of seasons and has netted 15 times in their ­promotion push. He has ­adjusted well to the top flight and could prove a bargain signing.

The talented attacker is also being tracked by other Premier League sides, but Houllier’s contacts and ­reputation in France give him the edge

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Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (05.12.10)
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2010, 07:27:20 AM »

Arsenal 2-1 Fulham: Two-goal Samir Nasri is fox in the box
Dec 5 2010

By Tom Hopkinson, The People

FEW players have contributed more to their side’s cause this season than Arsenal’s Samir Nasri.

And yesterday the Frenchman almost single-handedly lifted the Gunners back to the Premier League summit.

Last weekend, Arsene Wenger’s men topped the table for a couple of hours before Manchester United replaced them.

But this time they will sit pretty for a week at least after an outstanding, two-goal display from the Frenchman.

Fulham will argue they deserved a point and perhaps they did. A draw certainly wouldn’t have flattered them.

But even if Mark Hughes’ side were a match for most of Nasri’s team-mates, he alone stood head and shoulders above the rest and his goals, in particular the second, deserved to win any match.

First the 23-year-old made mugs of Brede Hangelaand and Aaron Hughes, dropping the shoulder on both and watching them fly past before ramming the ball beyond Mark Schwarzer.

But even that goal did not quite match-up to the match winner, for which he skipped between three Fulham players, nicked the ball past Schwarzer and then danced around it to create enough of an angle to force it home.

The strike lifted the roof off the Emirates and no wonder.

The home side were quite brilliant in the first half an hour, but as the game wore on the shakiness in the heart of Arsenal’s defence seemed to creep into other areas of the field and into the stands as well.

Fulham must take a lot of the credit for that and none more so than Diomansy Kamara.

His was a well-taken goal as well and he ran himself into the ground in a bid bring to give Fulham their first away win since the opening game of last season.

As Fulham boss Hughes said, though, Nasri was ultimately the difference.

He said: “Two special goals were the difference between the two sides –

the boy Nasri has been at the top of his game in recent weeks.

“We probably edged it in terms of the chances we created and pressure and momentum, but most top teams have individuals who can win games for the team when possibly the team isn’t functioning as well as it can do.

“Nasri’s an excellent footballer with great feet and once he gets into those positions in the area it’s difficult to stop him.

“We’re happy enough with our performance.

“We were guilty in that first period of overplaying in poor areas and obviously conceded in that period.

“But in the end we showed real belief in what we’re trying to do, we took the game to Arsenal and caused them problems.

“At the end the crowd were asking for the final whistle and that illustrates how well we asked questions of Arsenal.”

Arsenal were as impressive in that opening half-hour as Fulham were poor and Andrei Arshavin twice went close to giving them the lead.

His first effort was well saved by Schwarzer, a target for Wenger in the summer, while the second, after being released by Nasri, was just wide.

It wasn’t long, though, before that duo again combined, with Arshavin this time the provider, and Nasri showed the composure of a player brimming with confidence to put Arsenal ahead.

It wasn’t a case of if they would win but by how many then and, when Nasri twice left Matthew Briggs floundering, it looked like being a long afternoon for him.

As it transpired, it wasn’t. Hughes has high hopes for the 19-year-old and decided to pull him out of the line of fire.

Perhaps the change broke Arsenal’s rhythm, too, because out of nowhere Fulham drew level.

Sebastian Squillaci ran into central-defensive partner Laurent Koscielny as he shaped to head the ball, butting him square on the nose.

Referee Chris Foy allowed the game to continue and Clint Dempsey fed Kamara with a lovely ball which he duly tucked home.

It was just the lift Fulham needed and they might even have gone in ahead at half-time, but Lukasz Fabianski came out quickly to deny Kamara a second.

Kamara was beginning to cause all sorts of problems for Squillaci, Koscielny and his replacement, Johan Djourou, and his team-mates responded to his efforts.

Simon Davies impressed and Zoltan Gera put in a shift, the latter also unlucky to see a spectacular overhead kick run wide and an effort cleared off the line by Robin van Persie.

Wenger said: “I agree that at some stages we looked a little bit vulnerable in the air but we finished the game with five strikers on the field.

“We are good enough to go on and win the league from here but, as you can see, every team struggles to be consistent.

“We are far from winning the championship yet but we have the desire and will have our answer in May.”

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Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (05.12.10)
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2010, 07:29:31 AM »

Steve Bruce and Gerard Houllier in race to sign David Bentley
Dec 5 2010

By Alan Oliver, The People

FOUR Premier League clubs are involved in a battle to sign Spurs midfielder David Bentley in the January transfer window.

Sunderland’s Steve Bruce and Aston Villa boss Gerard Houllier are leading the chase with Fulham and Birmingham City also interested.

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp has slapped an £8m fee on Bentley but Fulham, Birmingham and Villa will try and sign the former Blackburn midfielder on loan in January with a view to a permanent deal at the end of the season.

Sunderland already have a full quota of loan players from Premier League opponents in Danny Welbeck and Nedum Onuoha.

But if Black Cats manager Steve Bruce can get Onuoha on a permanent transfer from Manchester City, he could also move for Bentley on loan.

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Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (05.12.10)
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2010, 08:08:14 AM »

Samir Nasri sends unconvincing Arsenal to top of Premier League

If Arsenal are top of the table despite another demonstration of defensive ineptitude, the Premier League may well be succumbing to a form of "leadership by the worst".

It is difficult to remember when the title has ever been won by a team with a defence as ramshackle as Arsenal's again showed itself to be, at least in the continued absence of Thomas Vermaelen, but the flip side of that is that if Arsène Wenger's team do triumph this season it will be because of sumptuous forward play, exemplified here by two superb goals from Samir Nasri, who must surely be the Premier League's player of the season so far.

Nasri has now struck eight league goals in this campaign and created many more. Whisper it, but he may even be starting to fulfil the "new Zidane" prophesies that proliferated when he was a youngster in Marseille. "He was the difference between the sides," the Fulham manager, Mark Hughes, said after this latest Nasri exhibition at the Emirates.

Nasri did not foil Fulham entirely by himself. Andrey Arshavin was also influential. Arshavin, indeed, could have opened the scoring in the sixth minute but his close-range volley was blocked by Mark Schwarzer. Then in the 12th minute Arshavin darted through midfield and fed Nasri, who poked wide from 15 yards. Two minutes later the Frenchman atoned for that miss. After again being teed up by Arshavin, Nasri sidestepped two Fulham defenders and rammed the ball into the roof of the net from eight yards.

The snow had melted in London but Arsenal were threatening an avalanche of goals. Arshavin and Marouane Chamakh both went close and Nasri was tormenting the left-back Matthew Briggs so much that Hughes withdrew the 19-year-old after 28 minutes. "It was a bit too much for him," Hughes explained. Within three minutes, however, Arsenal showcased their own defensive confusion and allowed Fulham to snatch an equaliser from their first real attack.

Sébastien Squillaci and Laurent Koscielny clashed heads while jumping for the same ball at the edge of the area and while the latter lay injured on the ground, Clint Dempsey clipped a pass through to the suddenly unmarked Diomansy Kamara, who finished well from 14 yards.

This fresh evidence of Arsenal's defensive vulnerability emboldened Fulham and spread familiar jitters through Wenger's team. Moments before half-time Kamara should have put Fulham in front but, after the Arsenal defence was prised apart by a routine ball through the middle, Lukasz Fabianski saved well.

Arsenal began the second half strongly and the trickery and penetrative running of Arshavin and Nasri returned to the fore. In the 57th minute the pair combined anew but, after feints from the Russian left two defenders on their backsides, his low shot was saved by Schwarzer.

Still Arsenal remained ropey at the back, as Dickson Etuhu proved on the hour when he rose unchallenged to meet a corner. Fortunately for the home side his connection was poor. Wenger introduced Robin van Persie for Tomas Rosicky with half an hour to go but the Dutchman's first significant contribution was not in attack – in the 70th minute he had to clear off the line as another Fulham corner sent Arsenal into a panic.

Five minutes later, though, Van Persie was in action at the other end, laying the ball off for Nasri to score his wonderful winner. Nasri collected the ball at the edge of the Fulham box and displayed Zidane-esque balance to glide past two defenders and Schwarzer before swivelling and shooting into the net from an awkward angle.

"His goals were a combination of touch, intelligence, special talent and also calmness because he needed to be patient to finish on both occasions," gushed Wenger, claiming vindication for having signed him for a fee of £11m or more two seasons ago. "Many people questioned me when I took him here but he is showing he is a special talent and I think there is more to come from him."

Although Chamakh came close to a third for Arsenal, the home team's fragility at the back meant Fulham had further chances to equalise, notably in the 78th minute when Etuhu stabbed wide after another scramble in the box. "I agree that at stages we looked a bit vulnerable in the air," said Wenger.

"But every team is struggling for consistency at the moment. We have the desire and spirit to fight for the title – are we good enough? We will find out."

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Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (05.12.10)
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2010, 08:09:41 AM »

Match Reaction

Despite the obvious disappointment that came with Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Arsenal, manager Mark Hughes praised his Team’s performance at the Emirates and spoke of the confidence his side will take from the match into next week’s clash with Sunderland at the Cottage.

“We took the game to Arsenal today and caused them real problems,” Hughes told after the match. “At the end of the game the crowd were asking for the final whistle which illustrates how well we pressed and asked questions of Arsenal. Unfortunately we haven’t got a reward.

“Overall we’re pleased with what we produced today. I thought there were some really good performances – Simon Davies did really well and that was probably his best game for us in a number of weeks.

“Dickson Etuhu was very strong in the midfield areas and Diomansy Kamara took his goal really well and could have had another one. I’m pleased with the performance but obviously not with the result. I think we showed real belief in what we’re trying to do.

“What we can produce when we play well gives me confidence that we won’t have a problem this year. Obviously we’re missing key personnel in the attacking department and that will always hurt us but hopefully we’ll start getting players back.

Hopefully Carlos Salcido might be back next week and Mousa Dembele might be an option for us and that will help us. In terms of the attitude of the group and the belief we’ll take from today I think we will be fine.”

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Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (05.12.10)
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2010, 08:10:55 AM »,19528,11095_6553305,00.html?

Hughes rues Nasri brilliance
Dembele has 'outside chance' of featuring against Sunderland

Fulham manager Mark Hughes was disappointed to see his side undone by the brilliance of Samir Nasri.

The Arsenal playmaker scored two goals in his side's 2-1 victory at Craven Cottage as Arsene Wenger's men returned to the top of the Premier League table.

But the scoreline did not tell the tale of the match at Emirates Stadium, where Fulham were unfortunate not to add to Diomansy Kamara's goal after the striker made it 1-1.

As a result of the defeat, Hughes' side only sit outside of the relegation zone on goal difference and so the Welshman was left to rue the individual skill of Nasri, who scored his 10th and 11th goal of the season.

The Fulham boss said: "Obviously, the boy Nasri has been playing at the top of his form in recent weeks.

"I think we probably edged it in terms of chances we created and pressure and momentum that we built during the game.

Excellent footballer

"But, as most top teams have, they have individuals who can win the game for their team when, possibly, the team isn't functioning as well.

"Nasri is an excellent footballer, great feet, and once he gets in those positions in the area it's very difficult to stop him.

"From our point of view, we're happy with the performance. I thought we showed real belief in what we were trying to do today, took the game to Arsenal and caused them problems.

"At the end of the game, the crowd were asking for the final whistle."

Fulham were forced to substitute full-back Matthew Briggs in the first half after the teenager sustained a "bang".

But Hughes had positive news on the fitness of summer signing Moussa Dembele, who has been sidelined since September after being left with a leg injury following a challenge from Stoke's Andy Wilkinson in the Carling Cup.

Asked if the striker could feature against Sunderland next weekend, Hughes told Sky Sports: "Possibly. He is going to start doing bits of work with the group and he might have an outside chance."

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Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (05.12.10)
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2010, 08:12:30 AM »

More away day misery for Fulham at Arsenal

Arsenal 2-1 Fulham
FULHAM'S travel sickness continued as Samir Nasri's double earned Arsenal the points at the Emirates.

Diomansy Kamara had cancelled out the Frenchman's opener, but the Whites had no reply as he struck the decisive blow 15 minutes from the end.

Arsenal flew out of the blocks, with Mark Schwarzer denying Andrey Arshavin from point-blank range, while Nasri poked an effort wide.

But Fulham weren't so lucky third time around as Nasri cut inside of Brede Hangeland and Aaron Hughes before lashing the ball past Schwarzer from six yards.

However, the Whites levelled on the half-hour mark totally against the run of pay.

Clint Dempsey played in Kamara, and the Senagalese striker slotted the ball beyond Lukasz Fabianski.

Kamara should've put the visitors ahead on the stroke of half-time when her latched onto Dickson Etuhu's pass, but Fabianski stuck out a foot to keep the scores level.

Arsene Wenger's men started the second-half as they did the first, with Tomas Rosicky's rasper fizzing just wide.

Schwarzer had to be at his best to deny Arshavin, but the Aussie could do nothing about Arsenal's winner.

Robin Van Persie played in Nasri, who rode two tackles before rounding the Fulham keeper and slotting the ball into the empty net.

Zoltan Gera had an effort tipped wide as the visitors pushed for a point, but they couldn't find a way back as the hosts held on for victory.

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Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (05.12.10)
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2010, 08:13:44 AM »

Diomansy Kamara hails Arsenal star Samir Nasri as a world-class player after double defeats Fulham
Cottagers forward is graceful after loss

Fulham forward Diomansy Kamara has hailed Samir Nasri as a world-class player after he scored both goals to hand Arsenal a 2-1 victory on Saturday.

The Gunners move top of the Premier League thanks to a double by the French playmaker, who is enjoying a fine season at the Emirates.

Kamara was the scorer of Fulham's goal in a keenly contested game, but said there was little his side could do to cope with Nasri in full flow.

"Nasri is an unbelievable player - a world-class player," he said to Sky Sports.

"He certainly made the difference today, he scored two unbelievable goals.

 "Often there is very little you can do when there is a player like this on the other side."

The former Celtic striker felt his side put in a strong showing in the narrow defeat and is confident results will soon start going their way despite being just one position clear of the drop zone.

"Arsenal had a good start for the first 15 or so minutes, but after we made it 1-1, I thought we kept the ball well," added Kamara.

"We had some opportunities, but I'm disappointed as I could have scored two today and didn't.

"I'm not concerned about our position. We just need to keep pushing. We've had the same squad for three years now and last year we got to a European final against Atletico Madrid.

"I think we just have to keep going, if we get just two wins we will be right up there in the middle of the table - we have a strong squad and a good manager."

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Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (05.12.10)
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2010, 08:14:55 AM »

Mark Hughes pleased with Fulham's battling performance despite Arsenal defeat
Cottagers linger close to the relegation zone after loss

Mark Hughes insists he is happy with Fulham's display against Arsenal and the Welshman feels Samir Nasri was the difference between the two sides.

The French playmayker bagged a brace to sink Hughes' men 2-1 at the Emirates on Saturday, but the Fulham boss believes his team has the opportunity to escape with at least a point.

"I am happy with the performance. We took the game to Arsenal and we were unlucky not to win," said Hughes.

"The crowd were asking for the final whistle at the end so we did our job well.

"With the attitude and belief we showed this afternoon we can get better and get up the league table.

"I think Nasri was the difference between the two sides. He is on top form at the moment.

"We were on top for long spells and created good chances but as most top teams have they have players that can win the game when the team is not on top form."

Fulham improved after a nervous opening and the visitors even enjoyed long spells of possession after the interval.

"Once we recognised what we talked about prior to the game we were better.

"We grew in belief and that grew until the end of the game."

He also reserved special praise for his midfielders, who worked hard to keep Arsenal at bay.

"Simon Davies had his best game for us and Dickson Etuhu was really strong in the middle of the park.

"But we are missing some key players but we are getting them back slowly. Overall I was pleased with thre performance but not the result."

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Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (05.12.10)
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2010, 08:16:47 AM »

Craven Cottagers
Following the 2007/8, 2008/9, 2009/10 and 2010/11 seasons at Craven Cottage - recounted by season ticket holders who aren't actually Fulham fans.

The Nearly Men - ARS 2 - 1 FUL

Fulham gave a good account of themselves at The Emirates, but don't seem to be able to get that bit of luck to take them to the next level. Nasri gave Arsenal all the points with a couple of instances of dancing in the box, but it could so nearly have gone the other way. Not that you would have thought that from the first 20 minutes. Fulham were filth with no discernable game plan and Arsenal were just gliding  past the mainly static white shirts. Even when Nasri scored, the writing had been on the wall for some time, and most of the Fulham fans were anticipating another drubbing.

However, for some reason, it just didn't happen. The first proper bit of football that Fulham played in the first half culminated in Kamara's well taken equaliser from Dempsey's deft flick and then, suddenly, Arsenal were rocking and uneasy. There were still no obvious tactics, but Fulham started making more chances and were probably unhappy that the half-time whistle came when it did.

Half time came, allowing us to be sold stuff through the big screens. Surprisingly Arsene Wenger read out the 'lucky number' winner on what i assume to be a pre-record VT - which raises some questions as to when the draw was actually made. Fulham fans weren't that noisy today, but crikey the Emirates is a quiet place at times. What you get from north London is the perfect distillation of modern football, with all its good and bad points.

Arsenal had played some good stuff in the game, but you could sense a soft underbelly of uncertainty within the team, and when the second half started Fulham tried to press the advantage. The game actually became quite good - one of those strange end to end game without many shots on goal.

The major tactical revolution for Fulham was playing a right winger on the right wing. Davies was tasked with sticking on the byline and suddenly Fulham had an 'out' ball and any crosses could be aimed at the trio of Kamara, Gera and Dempsey. Unfortunately Arsenal's centre halves managed to cope with that aerial threat, but other teams are likely to struggle a bit more. Davies was actually a bit of a revelation on the right and was possibly Fulham's best player in the second half.
Even Etuhu upped his game and started making some crunching tackles that have disappeared from his game recently.

Suddenly Fulham were up for it, but were undone by a great bit of skill when Nasri ran into the box unhindered and scored a goal straight off Strictly Come Dancing. It was a bit of rough justice really though. Andy Johnson was busy without being dangerous, and Dempsey hit the deck in injury time in the penalty area which was definitely worth another look (not that MOTD has bothered showing it), but in the end the team had given themselves too much to do.

While the way the team played was very promising (most of the Fulham fans clapped the team off the pitch) shouldn't we be expecting more that 'promising'  with almost half the season gone? A win against Sunderland next week would be very, very welcome.

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Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (05.12.10)
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2010, 08:18:21 AM »

Nasri artistry is too fine for honest artisans of Fulham
Arsenal 2 Fulham 1: Frenchman's double sends Gunners to top of the Premier League

In his programme notes, the Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, felt moved to defend Samir Nasri's penchant for wearing a snood and gloves. After the way Nasri played, with two goals that put Arsenal top of the Premier League, Wenger might feel the need to wrap him in cotton wool as well.

Nasri scored two goals of breathtaking quality. The 23-year-old simply gets better and better and with his 10th and 11th goals of the season he won a game in which Arsenal struggled to put away a determined Fulham side.

Nasri started as if on a mission to win the game on his own. He gave Fulham's left-back, Matthew Briggs, such a roasting that the teenager was withdrawn after half an hour and replaced by Chris Baird. By then, though, the damage had been done.

Nasri's first goal was brilliant. Andrey Arshavin, who was booed by the Fulham fans for his work in midweek in earning the 2018 World Cup for Russia, capitalised on a mistake by Aaron Hughes to feed Nasri, cutting in from the right. With one dummy Nasri cut inside Brede Hangeland and with a second he slipped past the sliding Hughes, before whipping the ball into the top corner with a rasping left-foot shot. The Frenchman has been enjoying his best form for Arsenal in recent weeks, but this was special.

His second may even have been better. Playing deeper in midfield following the substitution of Jack Wilshere, he started the move with a pass to Arshavin and continued his run to take the ball from Robin van Persie before going around John Pantsil and rounding the goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer with a pirouette better than anything to be seen on Strictly Come Dancing. He finished from a narrow angle.

Wenger purred: "[The goals] were a combination of touch, intelligence, special talent and a calmness as well. He needed to be patient to finish on both occasions and he did that well. When he came here his game was based on coming on to the ball. Now he has more variations, makes runs without the ball and is overall more efficient. He was a bit too much attracted to the ball. Now he can use his pace, he has exceptional pace."

Wenger, who spent £12.5m in recruiting Nasri from Marseille in 2008, is relieved to be seeing a return on his investment. "I have always been a strong believer in him," he said. "Many people questioned me when I took him here but he is showing he has exceptional talent. And I think there is more to come from him."

Without Nasri, Arsenal would have struggled to beat Fulham, who recovered after a shaky first 20 minutes to give a good account of themselves. Schwarzer had to make smart saves, twice with his body at close range to deny Arshavin, but overall Arsenal were below their best, hesitant and nervous after home defeats by Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur.

Fulham attempted to put the Gunners' back four under pressure. Their reward came on the half hour, when both Arsenal centre-halves went for a high ball and Sébastien Squillaci butted Laurent Koscielny, who was forced to leave the pitch with concussion. At first, however, Koscielny tried to play on, prompting the referee, Chris Foy, to allow the game to continue. Clint Dempsey found Diomansy Kamara and the Senegal striker curled a low shot past Lukasz Fabianski.

Zoltan Gera forced Fabianski into a couple of good saves – encouraging signs for Fulham's manager, Mark Hughes.

"I thought we edged it but they have individuals who can win the game on their own," Hughes said. "At the end the fans were baying for the final whistle, which showed how we had asked questions of Arsenal and caused them some problems."

Attendance: 60,049

Referee: Chris Foy

Man of the match: Nasri

Match rating: 7/10

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Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (05.12.10)
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2010, 08:20:14 AM »

Arsenal 2-1 Fulham: Sunday Mirror match report

There are defining moments in every season and for Arsenal one may well have come in the 75th minute of a fiercely-contested confrontation at The Emirates.

Just as a dogged, determined and well-organised Fulham outfit looked destined to secure a draw, Samir Nasri conjured up a magical, mazy run that produced a goal worthy of winning any game. He had scored a special effort in the first fifteen minutes but he saved the best for his strike in the last fifteen.

He was fed the ball by Robin van Persie and proceeded to elude a desperate lunge from John Pantsil and take the ball past Mark Schwarzer. But he was left with an outrageous angle from which to score - but the outrageous is what Nasri is all about. He was off-balance but still had the technique to squeeze the ball in at the near post. A magnificent effort - and it was enough to take Arsenal to the top of the Premier League.

It is players like Nasri who can have a significant say in the destiny of the title. He can unlock defences with his neat and incisive passing. He can leave them helpless and breathless with his close control and acceleration. All the qualities combined for both Arsenal strikes.

Fulham had been served notice of Nasri's brilliance early in the first half when he left young Fulham left-back Matthew Briggs bemused and confused. After Andrey Arshavin had a shot from just six yards blocked by Schwarzer, the little Russian released Nasri but he prodded the ball agonisingly wide. That, however, was to prove to be merely a sighter. Two minutes later, he struck with venomous results.

Nasri kept his calm as he went past two Fulham defenders, wrong-footed Schwarzer and drove home a brilliant left foot shot. The flood gates threatened to open and Fulham manager Mark Hughes reacted immediately by withdrawing Briggs. "We have high hopes of Matthew," said Hughes of the 19-year-old who is still the youngest player ever to play in the Premier League following his debut when he was only 16. He must have aged 10 years in that first ten minutes.

"But he lost a bit of confidence and it was all too much for him."

On this form, however, Nasri would have been too much for most defenders. "He was the difference between the two sides, " said Hughes. "All the top teams have individuals who can win the game." Nasri certainly satisfied that definition - much to the delight of his manager Arsene Wenger. "His second goal was combination of touch, intelligence and calmness. He now has more variation in his game.

"Many people questioned me when I bought him but for me is an exceptional talent. And there is more to come from him."

Hughes, for one, will not offer an argument about Nasri. His men had matched Arsenal man for man and muscle for muscle. They battled for every ball and in Diomansy Kamara they had a willing and powerful front-runner who threatened to de-rail Arsenal's ascent to the top of the table. He was ever alert to an opening and one came on the half hour. He did not squander it.

Sebastien Squillaci and Laurent Koscielny showed a complete lack of understanding as they both went for the same ball. Their collision left Koscielny with concussion and Kamara in possession. He broke into the area and slid the ball past Lucasz Fabianski. Arsenal were wasting chances and Arshavin was the main culprit. His homeland found it easier to win a World Cup vote than he did to score yesterday.

But just as it seemed another frustrating afternoon was on the horizon at The Emirates, Nasri sprang to the rescue and the celebrations were almost as spectacular as the goal. Fulham went in search of an equaliser and came close. Zoltan Gera brought the best from Fabianski and when the same player out-jumped the Arsenal goalkeeper, Van Persie of all people was there to clear the danger.

"In the end the crowd were calling for the final whistle and that tells you a lot," said Hughes. And thanks to Nasri, those same fans had reason to cheer when Chris Foy blew for the final time.

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Offline whitejc

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Re: Sunday Fulham Stuff (05.12.10)
« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2010, 10:35:50 AM »

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