Nasri double sends Arsenal top

Arsenal 2 Fulham 1

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 star'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 pounced on Aaron Hughes' error before feeding the France star, who sold two sublime dummies before lashing the ball into the top corner.



Nasri was already guilty of a glaring miss after more superb work by the rampant Arshavin, who was running the show two days after helping his native Russia win the right to host the 2018 World Cup.



The first chance of the game had fallen to the striker, his close-range volley blocked by Mark Schwarzer, who had looked certain to join Arsenal in January before signing a new contract with Fulham on Thursday.



Arshavin and Nasri continued to pull the strings - the latter tormenting recalled Fulham youngster Matthew Briggs, who was withdrawn for Chris Baird.



But Marouane Chamakh and Alex Song were both guilty of more profligate play that would come back to haunt the Gunners, whose offside trap was looking particularly suspect.



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.



Both sides should have scored on the stroke of half-time, Chamakh powering a header straight at Schwarzer from Bacary Sagna's brilliant run and cross, and Kamara hitting the legs of Lukasz Fabianski after being played in behind by Dickson Etuhu.



Tomas Rosicky hooked a 52nd-minute volley wide as Arsenal tried to build some momentum after the restart.



Arshavin's dancing feet and near-post drive brought another good stop by Schwarzer but Fulham were refusing to be overawed and saw plenty of the ball themselves.



Etuhu sent a free header wide from Simon Davies' corner before Arsenal withdrew Rosicky for Robin van Persie.



The home fans' frustration grew when Song wasted all his good work outmuscling John Pantsil by blazing over the top.



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 shoulkd have killed them off when he sent a shot over on the turn.



Nasri looked to be struggling, signalling he wanted to come off, but Arsenal had used all their substitutions and he played on.



Fulham poured forward and the home defence was definitely creaking, with Gera's well-struck volley forcing a fine Fabianski save.



Eddie Johnson came on for Danny Murphy for the closing moments but Arsenal held on.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
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

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world