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 He gave Fulham's left-back, Matthew Briggs, such a roasting that the teenager was withdrawn after half an hour and replaced by Chris Baird.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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Sport
Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
football
Life and Style
food + drink
News
video
Sport
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home