Samir Nasri is unmistakably transforming into the most influential French footballer since Zinedine Zidane. This is his second goal, even more sublime than the first. And dare say, after Russia was awarded the 2018 World Cup, Andrey Arshavin seems to have perked up. He had a hand in both goals.
But the story is Nasri – bursting onto the heart of the Fulham defense and leaving them in disarray. All four of them. He got past Mark Schwarzer and then cannily pivoted around and smashed the ball into the net with his right foot as the ball seemed to be just drifting out of control. And a huge hat tip to Van Persie who checked himself to lay off perfectly for Nasri. A dummy that froze Fulham just enough for the magic to unfold. “The touch of an angel” sums it up. A grateful Wenger joins in the celebration clasping the hand of the midfielder as he runs by the sideline. After those heartbreaking home losses the gaffer’s relief was palpable.
Aaron Hughes makes a rare mistake and Arshavin pounces on the ball and steams ahead with the Fulham defense backpedaling. Just as he seems to be heading into a cul de sac, he prods the ball across to Nasri now developing a great knack of running into open space. And again, those quick feet! My word.
These are the Gunners however – with a perfect talent for defensive ineptitude that keep other teams in the game. This time it was Sebastien Squillaci head butting Laurent Koscielny squarely in the nose as they both went up as the same time to take care of the ball. Clint Dempsey took advantage of the suddenly inattentive Koscielny to slip the ball to Diomansy Kamara whose killer touch was too much for Lukasz Fabianski. So here we were. Deja vu writ large over this match. Koscielny could not continue and had to be subbed by Djourou.
With Chelsea failing to subdue Everton at home and inclement weather putting a freeze on the Man Utd vs Blackpool match, the Gunners find themselves temporarily on top of the league. This season is definitely not for the faint hearted.