Arsenal 2-1 Fulham: Nasri composure key as anxious Arsenal move top
Arsenal 2 Nasri 14, 75 Fulham 1 Kamara 30
• French fancy: Samir Nasri bagged brace
Two magical goals from Samir Nasri rescued Arsenal as they survived another wasteful performance at the Emirates Stadium to move top of the Barclays Premier League.
The France forward's jaw-dropping composure was in stark contrast to that of his team-mates, who almost threw away another three points in front of their own fans.
Nasri put them ahead early on but a sickening clash of heads between Laurent Koscielny and Sebastien Squillaci allowed Diomansy Kamara to equalise before Nasri netted a glorious winner.
With Manchester United's match postponed due to the big freeze and Chelsea held by Everton, the victory sent Arsenal a point clear at the summit.
But this was far from a champion performance, more from a side that had lost their last two home league games.
The Gunners announced before the match that their players and directors had agreed to donate their day's wages to Centrepoint.
They had been less than charitable down the years to Fulham, who had never won at Arsenal in more than a century of trying. That wait looked set to continue when Nasri's spectacular opener put the home side ahead in the 14th minute.
Andrey Arshavin, who was running the show two days after helping his native Russia win the right to host the 2018 World Cup, pounced on Aaron Hughes' error before feeding the Frenchman, who sold two sublime dummies before lashing the ball into the top corner.
But on the half-hour mark, Squillaci and Koscielny collided going for the same ball and Clint Dempsey took full advantage of the carnage to slide in Kamara, who sidefooted home. Koscielny was in a bad way and was carried off on a stretcher to be replaced by Johan Djourou.
Fulham were denied a shock lead in the 70th-minute when a corner was deflected to Zoltan Gera, whose header was cleared off the line.
Gera then sent a spectacular overhead kick wide before Kamara was sacrificed for Andy Johnson and Wilshere was withdrawn for Theo Walcott.
Arsenal's change paid off in spectacular fashion with 15 minutes remaining, a brilliant flowing move seeing Van Persie square for Nasri.
The Frenchman still had men to beat but did so with some unbelievable footwork, rounding Schwarzer and pirouetting to net from a tight angle.
The visitors proved they were far from beaten when Etuhu dragged narrowly wide minutes later but Chamakh should have killed them off when he sent a shot over on the turn.
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Sunday 26 May 2013
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