Apologies for the delay in the match analysis but today I turned into Santa Claus to give my little nephews and nieces their Christmas presents a good 20 days early… which obviously affected my ability to get to a computer until now…
It’s been a crazy start to the season, and if I told you we’d lose three home games by the end of November and sit proudly top of the league on the 4th of December – you would have bitten my hand off, without a doubt – but kudos to the boys, despite the setbacks, they ground out results and with two wins out of two at the Emirates in a week, maybe we can shake off the hudoo that has prevented us from winning at the Emirates in recent games…
Fulham have historically always been tough team to play and under Roy Hodgson they managed to get a few decent results against us. With doubts about Nasri and Arshavin, it was good to see them both return to the starting line up, which was:
Sagna – Squillaci – Koscielny – Clichy
Wilshere – Song
Nasri – Rosicky – Arshavin
Like the last time the three behind Chamakh were Nasri, Rosicky and Arshavin – we saw a bit of rotation with Rosicky dragging out to the left of midfield which was good to mix up. The likes of Walcott, Bendtner and Van Persie were on the bench so we had attacking options if required. 9 changes from the midweek game
We started the game brightly and immediately started to pepper the Fulham goal, with a really good chance falling to Andrei Arshavin who volleyed a high ball well, but straight at Schwarzer who spread himself well to save from point blank range. Moments later Nasri had a great chance, just missing the target from a good pass from Arshavin – and it was the same combination that combined to great the opening goal. A marauding run from the Russian, putting Nasri through, who rounded two defenders and dispatched the ball into the back of the net to make it 1-0.
In fact Nasri was in fine form and what he was doing with the ball was sensational – at times it felt like he was dancing around defenders…
We had chances to increase our lead, many chances, but for some reason we were playing in our “perfect goal” mode, which meant that many times, instead of shooting when we were one-on-one, we tried to pass the ball around too much. And we all thought it would come back to haunt us and it did. Around the thirty minute mark, Koscielny and Squillaci collided and subsequently lost the trail of play, which saw Kamara sneak in behind them and score an equaliser – at this point, we really should have been at least 2-0 if not 3-0 up…
The goal shook us and suddenly Fulham were on top – and for me, the half time whistle couldn’t come quicker. We completely lost the plot after the equaliser and it’s frustrating that for such a talented bunch of players, our mentality is so weak. We didn’t regain any sort of rhythm until Arsene introduced Van Persie into the fray – his work rate rubbed off on the rest of the team and rejuvenated the team. And it was his pass that set up the winner – through Nasri who accepted the ball from RvP and danced his merry way around the defence and the keeper and spun around and span the ball into the net.
Arsene spoke on the game and took time out to praise the man of the moment and two goal hero Samir Nasri:
“It was a good game. Overall I think Fulham played well and we played well. They put us under pressure because Gera and Kamara combined well and their midfield was efficient, they played quite a direct game to expose us with balls behind our defenders. We needed not only quality but sprit and resilience today and we got it. We scored two exceptional goals from Samir that were a combination of touch, intelligence, special talent and calmness. He needed to be patient to finish in both situations and he did very well. I’m happy because he had a game that at the start was only based on coming to the ball and now he has more variation in his game. His game is improving and of course he is more efficient.”
So finally after all the crazy weekends of football, we find ourselves top of the league – what a crazy season… hey?