Arsenal 2-1 Fulham: Nasri provides the class, Djourou provides the calm

The atrocious quality of the stream that I used to watched today’s game against Fulham has left me feeling completely unqualified to make any poignant observations about our performance as a team.

But even through the stuttery, blurry mess of a stream I feel confident enough to sing the praises of two players that I believe were most responsible for a vital 2-1 victory that has pushed us to the top of the table.

The first, Samir Nasri, will come as no surprise. The Frenchman ran the show today, capping off a terrific performances with two truly magical goals. The opening goal was good, the winner even better.

Few players in the Premier League are as dangerous as Nasri in around the penalty area: his pace, control and unpredictability making him almost unstoppable.

Now he has added finishing to his repertoire Nasri has developed into arguably the best attacking midfielder in England. It’s a big call to make but this season the numbers speak for themselves.

The second player, Johan Djourou, may come as more of a surprise. But after replacing Laurent Koscielny, whose friendly-fire injury provided a microcosmic representation of how poorly he and Sebastien Squillaci have been working as a unit, the Swiss defender produced an immense performance.

Unlike Koscielny, playing with Squillaci seems to bring out the best in Djourou, and he did not put a foot wrong at the back today. He was calm, committed and after Nasri’s second goal, when Fulham began to attack with more gusto, his absolute domination in the air brought great relief and confidence to the team.

Just look at his statistics below: 4 interceptions attempted, 4 interceptions completed. 6 aerial challenges contested, 6 aerial challenges won. 1 tackle attempted, 1 tackle completed. Terrific stuff.

Johan Djourou hardly put a foot wrong against Fulham

Wenger continues to look past Djourou for the more wily, more wiry Koscielny but surely this latest performance will make the manager reconsider. Based on this and his previous performances against Everton and Wolves, and in the absence of Thomas Vermaelen the Swiss man quite simply deserves a starting position in this team.

Despite the scrappy nature of today’s victory and the tough time that Fulham gave us, all that matters is that we have finished the day on top of the table. It’s been a rocky ride so far but with Manchester United traveling to The Emirates hosting us at Old Trafford in a week’s time, this exciting team have an outstanding chance to establish themselves as genuine title contenders.


Have your say on Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Fulham by leaving a comment.



  1. I think we travel to Old Trafford and not the other way around and as I tweeted U Arsene has cleared the air by saying he is concerned about DJ’s knee and thats why we are not seeing him often

  2. Great post. There is no other attacking mid better than our french magician!
    I agree with your points on Djourou also, he’s simply a better centre back than Kos.

    And i believe the mighty arsenal are traveling to, not welcoming, Manchester utd.
    Love the blog

  3. It’s actually us who travel to OT (not the other way round as you stated it at the end of your blog).
    I fully agree with you on Djourou. This guy deserves to play along side Squillaci at the expense of the error prone Kosch.
    I’m afraid Kosch is struggling to settle in the EPL despite some convincing early season shows. Hopefully he’ll come good in the end.
    Given that TV5 is out for a long time, the manager has to make sure that we always play with the best center-half pair (as long as they are available). And at the moment that pair is Squillaci-Djourou.

  4. Have fixed the Old Trafford/Emirates mix-up, sorry about that.

    Great to hear so much positivity coming in for Djourou. I’ve really rated that guy for a long time — heck, I even have a Djourou Arsenal kit — and believe he is a long-term solution at the back. So happy to see him doing well.

  5. Andrew, I must say that we made this game much tougher than it should have been, and I heard the announcer correctly say that by the half we should have been 3 or 4 up (which I could barely hear because I was watching a terrible stream as well). Time and again, we cannot seem to dot the i and cross the t when we need to, and I believe it will continue to hurt us because, though the last 15 or so minutes of football were quite exciting, it was, as you rightly put it, excruciating. On Nasri, I will even go so far as to say that, if his form continues, he might just soften the blow of Captain Fantastic leaving in the summer if that tragedy comes to pass, although Wilshere must be solid as well. Lastly, I think van Persie was effective when he was played, and offered a much better option than Chamakh on this day. He probably could have scored just before he passed it to the Little Zidane for the goal, while Chamakh did not shoot at first touch late in the game when he was isolated in the box, thinking pass-first. I love both of them, but my main point is that there is still much improvement to be done to unseat Manure and Chelsea.

  6. @ MTY completely correct on the Djourou-Koscielny topic – the Swiss must start and continue to start after Vermaelen comes back.

  7. Lol am still having a huge smile after hearing the commentator say that Nasri has the touch of an angel lol .. (after the second goal)

  8. Djourou will make that CB position his own if he gets more playing time. He’s good enough to be first choice now. He needs to be more expressive to his team mates and develop leadership qualities too.

  9. Great post mate.
    Great statistics too. I too thought Johan was magnificent considering he came off the bench.
    And who am I to comment on Nasri !
    The guy is miracle itself !
    The incarnation of Thiery Henry in a midfield maestro !
    TH14 would be more than satisfied with his visit to the Emirates.
    Lovely evening for sure. Take care Arsefolks

  10. Wenger was talking about why djourou hasnt played so much. He says its to do with the fact he missed a year of playing time. It makes sense really. I wish hed be so careful with fabregas and van persie though.

  11. The reason I believe why teams gives us such a hard time at home, is because of our record. It has made them believe they can get 3 points no matter who they are..Just look at Fulham, they played a 4-4-2 at the fear.. that is something that has to change, The Emirates should be a feared place, and our home style should be feared as well. this is something the team has to work with. our record now is:
    Home: 5 V 3 L – Away: 5 V 2D 1 L ,- so our away form has been amazing! and can you imagine if we keep it like that, and improve our home form.. we will be leading the table by 10 points by the end of February.. Djourou is actually amazing! He has no fear! plus he adds 191cm of height too our back line, which is very much needed! I remember the Aston Villa game when we were 3-2 up. I was wishing for him to come on, and when he did at 4-2, he cleaned up the air immediately! Verm-Djourou is our future! no doubt.

    Gunners= PL champions 2011

  12. well said. can’t add more. still have issues with focusing for 90mins+. we need to work on that. home perfomance still a big suspect.

  13. Djourou will certainly get his chance to start over the next three weeks given the injury to Koscielny. These will be massively important games for the squad. If Djourou can perform well over these next three weeks, given the importance of the matches (Champions League, United), I believe that Djourou will solidify his position as a stating CB.

    I still think that Koscielny will be a fantastic CB, but players take time to adjust to the league, so we shouldn’t draw conclusions yet.

    I do think that this injury to Koscielny will certainly prompt Wenger to buy in the January window. Koscielny is still adjusting to the league. We are asking far too much of Squillaci. Djourou is coming back after being out for a year, and there is no telling when, if ever, TV will return. So, I don’t believe Wenger for a second when he says he won’t buy in January.

  14. wow wow wow…. it amazing how people are calling for djourou when infact the same people for the past two years have being bashing this guy. the fact is koscielny is better. djourou have being at arsenal for 4 yrs now you all call for him.

  15. @Moo:
    I cannot criticise you for you opinion but I 100% disagree that Squillaci should be benched for Koscielny. If you consider the roles of centrebacks, you may realise that their partnerships require complementary attributes. Squillaci is now what Silvestre could never be. Basically, what I am trying to explain is that when you have 2 CBs, one seats and the other sweeps. From what I have seen so far, Squillaci is the only CB who looks like a sweeping centreback to me. Koscielny is a sweeper and not a seating centreback so I believe this is the reason why Koscielny and Djourou will be a very bad idea.

    I have also observed that Squillaci plays very well on the left side of the defence and Djourou is really good on the right side of the defence. This is the reason why Djourou and Squillaci have been very good together. Look at the balance in height? Djourou complements Squillaci so well and you cannot continue to gamble on anything less than the ideal. There is a lot of chopping and changing particularly at centre back. With Vermaelen out, the other centreback who is dependable in the air is Djourou. I am 100% convinced of that. I agree that we cannot use Djourou as much as we would like game in game out but there are certain games where you know aerial bombardments will be the order of the day. There is time for everything and I believe the time is ripe for Djourou to take his rightful place.

  16. The thing is that AW always likes to play a very high back line, and to do that your defenders – especially central defenders – have to be fast. Trouble is that the current crop aren’t especially quick compared to the likes of Toure and Campbell in the past. But Djourou is the quickest, so his presence helps. Didn’t prevent us from being undone by a simple ball over the top when we played Braga and Fulham kept trying and nearly succeeding today. Frankly, it’s a worry.

    Re next week’s game, I recall a young Djourou playing well up there in a 0-1 win back in Sept. 2006. Hoping for the same next week.

  17. Schillachi is the most unconfident and error prone of the lot, he challenged for a ball kozza already had, he has injured our only quick CB, JD is great but better with kozza to cover for his lack of pace, SS is slow and lacks confidence, kozza has had more good displays than his fellow countryman, wake up and watch the games properly!

    1. Verm
    2. JD
    3. Kozza
    4. SS

  18. Johan Djourou was completely sh** earlier in the season but he is getting better and better and of course he deserve a placce in the first 11. Walcott too, was at his best of being a headless chicken recently, particularly yesterday.

  19. While the defence is clearly a problem, much of the blame needs to be shared by the players who did not take their chances to put us out of sight – again. Chamakh, Song, Arsh, Rosicky (and Nasri – altho it’s hard to be critical of him after that performnce!) all could have scored and we would have been 3 or 4 up and no matter how dodgy the defence it would not have mattered. I agree that we looked much sager with Djorou. When Vermeulen is fit wuld like to see those two get an extended run.

    Fucking brilliant goals by the next Zidane!!!

  20. While Vermaelen still sitting outside with his mythical injury, I would like to see Squillacy and Djourou in central of defence. We really need the tall defender who can deal with the high ball, and we can see how efficients Djourou dealt with the counter attacks from Fulham.

    Nasri has been in fantastic form so far in this season, and we all hope he can keep with that.

    However, we need to practice more how to convert the opportunities to goals. We have missed so many chances that if we can score one of third of them, we can win the games at least 3 differences in goal. Chamalk needs to shoot when he has a chance. He always waits for some teammates to passing the balls. No, he needs to shoot it to goal….

  21. Yes…Djourou is better than Koscielny. Arsenal would have lost the game if Koscielny stayed in the game, Arsenal 1-2. Dont forget Arsenal was leading 1-0 until the mess up of head concussion of Koscielny and Squillaci. But Djourou played and Arsenal won 2-1. If you look at all the games Djourou played vs Koscielny, Arsenal won more times with Djourou. eg Wolves, Everton ,Fulham. Kosicelny record (lost to New 0-1,lost to Tot 2-3, lost to WBA 2-3).
    Fabianski is improving…..he appeared able to take over No 1 from Alumnia. Arsenal’s title challengers are Man United, Chelsea, Man City. 4 Teams are capable to challenge for the title.
    Cheers to Nasri for another outstanding performance.

  22. Djourou is a good backup to Vermalen. Is Kos becoming the new cygan?lol.

    Both Kos and Djo are error prone, Djo lost his concentration sometimes, such as the through ball that let Kamara through, lucky Fabby made a good save.

    Anyway a good win, now its time to face the real challenge, ManU is coming soon. Have to commend on Arshavin, he’s been working extra hard, still need to work on that stomach muscle though 😛

  23. still our problem lies in defence which is error prone also due to lack of steel. our back four always are second best in 50-50 situation due to physical constraints. goals against us tells the truth whether arsene admit it or not. we were lucky to win against fulham after an outstanding first session. sure chelse and man u would have punished the team like spurs, sunderland and west brom did. we need at least four players to make the team real title contenders. safe gk, a tough tackling cb, a midfielder in vieria mould and a goalpacher. vp is injury prone, bend and vela are no good while chamakh can not shoot.

  24. Top of the league!!!!

    Who cares how we won. The only time we conceded was when Koscielny was seeing stars. That let them back into the game and they played with more belief. Also, shouldn’t play have been stopped? Anyway, Nasri, you beauty. I thought even though Arshavin played well, Nasri showed him up. Not just in terms of quality, but effort. He was chasing lost causes from deeper positions, while Arshavin stood still. Hopefully Nasri’s example will rub off on him and others.

    What is up with the commentary? I thought the crowd were fantastic. Singing and cheering constantly. Yet the only times the commentators would mention the crowd was when they were booing the referee and say that the fans are impatient with Arsenal, and to point out some empty seats just a little bit after half time.Pathetic.

    And yes. Djourou was immense. He does have the necessary attributes and now he’s starting to deliver as well. Song, on the other hand, was just a bit sloppy yesterday, in my opinion. Clichy and Sagna did well too. And we should also mention Fabiansky who made 2 very good saves.

  25. I was a bit speachless about their complicated play in front of goal right in the box, that passing were really too much, of course not every player has such ideas like Nasri but though …. 😎

  26. It brings a hurge smile on my face when i see my very team Arsenal which i surport with all my heart take a good lead on top of the table but it is still not enough for us to relax b’se some times we play stupid games and we drop points even from home. This is the time that Arsene Wenger should not joke with any lineup which ever team it may be. Praise be to Narsir for his wonderful performance. Am now happy that Djourou has started pickig up well . I hope this will give great hope to the rest of the team members. I hope Fabregas is learning a lesson that some thing good can come out of Arsenal but not only Bacelona. My fellow fun lets give each an every available surport to our blessed team Arsenal. Long live Arsenal

  27. @ Aman – The first line of the blog says “The atrocious quality of the stream that I used to watched today’s game against Fulham has left me feeling completely unqualified to make any poignant observations about our performance as a team.”

    I think that answers your question.

  28. Sebastian Squillachi is an accident waiting to happen, I think the Koscielny collision, whish he had no right to contest as Kos was the one clearing DOWNFIELD and facing the ball, is a great example of what this lad is capable of, hes just a loose cannon, theres nothing methodical about anything he does……get him away from that defense before he ruins any confidence they have.

  29. usual of course i think we can go to the mancs and win they have been looking very suspect and considering we have the best away form in the league why not? anyways since you verbally abuse the team constantly week in week out, TV no good he is a midget centre half, nasri ligt weight crappy french etc etc when we do win something this year you should have no right celebrate, why? its like if you abuse your next door neighbour everyday, and one week he wins the lottery and then you want to be his buddy that ish dont slide with me, back the team or pack up and leave.

  30. Great battling game on the weekend that shows this side has got guts now that there’s some decent competition for places. And top of the league as well!!

    I agree with the majority that Djourou was terrific. His physical attributes at the back made the whole defence more stable and confident. He should have been the first choice CB for the last 3 weeks.

    The other guy I thought was close to man of the match was Song. He was good in defence and outstanding when going forward.

    And the reason why we weren’t 3 or 4 up was nearly all because of Schwartzer. How many times did the commentator say ‘great save by Schwartzer’? The apprentice in the Arsenal goal had a good game but in the other goal was the Master.

  31. A good win against a Fulham side that wouldn’t quit. Kudos to our much maligned backs, Clichy and Sagna, who put in solid performances and also showed that they can knock in quality crosses. Djourou should have been on from the start, he was a rock! Even Usual will have to acknowledge Nasri’s class – every team needs a game breaker and right now he is “the man”. Arshavin has increased his work rate and now looks like he wants to be here. My only disappointment was Walcott, who as always flatters to deceive. Good to be on top but it only matters after 38 games have been played.

  32. What did I say about our toothless attack? I cant even believe I’m going after this again, but I keep on saying our attack misses so many chances that games are supposed to be wrapped up in the first half.
    Right from the last game, our midfield started behaving properly(atleast someone sits back nowadays),….we are now being more tactical instead of the the rigid 4-3-3 we used to play before.
    I have to say that lack of shooting by our strikers is really letting us down, yesterday he took too many touches before shooting and by that time, the defender had it covered already. He also passed a sideways ball for a midfielder to shoot yet again.
    If RVP doesn’t start the next game as top striker,then the manager will have himself to blame for any misfortunes. I guess with the form Nasri is showing right now, he should be the one playing behind the top striker.
    What if the defense did not hold up? What if Nasri was not divinely inspired? We would have jokingly drawn or probably lost that match just like that. We couldn’t even score more than two goals with all the chances created.
    Atleast we are less predictable now…Infact, I would say we are unpredictable to a certain level upfront, more rotation of places by the stikers should really enhance that.
    Cheers to the boys once again

  33. Just to let you all know, game is being in shown on the local fox sports channel (not FSC) today at 2:30 eastern time, in the states at least

  34. I think Squillaci was guilty in the incident with Koscielny. Yes, that was lack of communication but… I don’t know. For me, Koscielny has been impressive since he arrived to the team and at the moment I have not seen the french starting alongside the swiss.. maybe it’s worth seeing them together.

  35. @Gunnerboss,
    Good point mate, we cant be dependin on world class goals to win games everyweek, you take the Nasri magic out of that game and we would have been in trouble, the wastefulness is a serious problem week in week out, like I said before someones gonna get a real hiding soon, hopefully Utd.
    For anyone who didnt know Samir Nasri was overlooked for Premier League November player of the month in favour of Yohan Elmander, who has scored something like 3 goals in 40 games…..hats off to that prolific Swede!

  36. all you guys are making a lot of noise for vanpercy to start he is not that prolific either and has a bad work rate someone even said he is a fantastic free kick taker i asked the question when was the last time vanpercy scored a free kick?
    I know chamaka is not the answer but so far he appears to be better than vanpercy.
    Don”t get me wrong he is a good player vanpercy but the world class tag no way man……

  37. Andy u need too get urself sopcast and watch the games on HD good quality stream on FSC.that aside, saturday’s game kept me tense all through, especially in the 2nd half, simply due to our dismal home record.
    Nasri was amazing, he has been defending high up, keeping the pressure on the midfielders and on the front he has been potent…Djorou was amazing when he came on…its clear Squillaci and Kos r not a good combination, hope Arsene saw how tight the back was with JD and Squi..
    Song was a mess on saturday. i think he needs to rest.

  38. It seems Kosch won’t be back before the new year. Blessing in disguise? JD will now be able to have an extended run of games in the league.
    It may also force AW to buy a recognized CB in January (given the fact that TV5 may not be able to make a full return in the new year. Rumors have it that he’ll be out for the season).

  39. The past few seasons I’ve been getting more and more impatient with Mr. Wenger. While Chelsea and Liverpool overtook us and challenged Man Utd for the league, we spent our seasons looking over our shoulder as Villa, Spurs and Man City got better and better. I was tearing my hair as I watched the teams around us splashed money on big players while we sat on our hands and stuck with young, inexperienced players. Every season we’d qualify for the knock-out rounds of the ChampionsLeague and every season we’d get destroyed by the first big team we faced. The way things are now I have to admit that Arsene was right. Chelsea’s success was down to Abrahamovic. Now they have stopped spending and their squad is getting older it is all falling to pieces. A few seasons ago they could have fielded a 2nd team that would beat most Prem teams, now they lose JT and Lamps for 5 games and drop 10points. Liverpool challenged for one season but again, the only players left from their “successful” spell are getting on, and are the best players in a weak squad. Arsene was building for long term success, like Utd have, and it’s working. Our squad will only get stronger as it matures and I can’t wait for the end of this season. We’ll win trophies this season for sure!

  40. Khilen nice post – I too think Nasri has been Arsenal’s best player so far this season and quite rightly is the name on all Gooners lips.

    I’d even go as far as saying that had he been born on these shores then the English media would be wanking furiously over him just like they are over Gareth Bale.

    Unfortunately a French man will never get the plaudits like a British man over here!

    Thanks to France leaving him out of their World Cup squad Nasri seems to be a man possessed this campaign.

    Eager to prove himself and France wrong, he has been a revelation. Dragging us through sticky situations he has been compared to past Arsenal greats Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg for his new-found goal scoring ability from midfield.

    I kind of feel for Samir. He has been compared to so many players. The new Zidane, the new Pires and the new Freddie. I think he is just Samir Nasri and a player in his own right.

    The summer of 2010 has seen a new Nasri. Reborn with a point to prove. And we are reaping the benefits!

    As I’ve said Nasri is THE man at Arsenal right now but someone else’s recent improving form has gone relatively unnoticed.

    Like Samir Nasri’s, Andrey Arshavin’s form is getting better in recent weeks too.

    I don’t know if its anything to do with the weather conditions in England getting rapidly colder but I have definitely seen an improvement in the little Russian lately.

    I think it would be fair to say that over the last 12 months we have only seen glimpses of Arshavins talent and what he can actually do.

    It appeared that he lost a lot of enthusiasm for the game after his country, Russia, were beaten in the World Cup 2010 qualification play-offs against Slovenia and although its taken a long time to get rid of that hang-over I think he is finally turning the corner.

    He has that ability to do something special and he is a match-winner. Frustrating at times but an important player none the less.

    If Arshavin can continue to improve his form and get back to the top of his game then he will be just as important to Arsenal as Nasri is proving to be.

  41. Arsene should play 4-4-2 at home with Chamakh and Van Persie up front Arshavin – Nasri – Fabregas – Walcott in the middle .. Sagna – Squallaci – Vermalen – Clicy at the back .

  42. We have strengthened our attacks in the air and our midfield is scoring a lot more. The only thing that is making me nervous is our frustrating habit of conceding soft goals. Flaps has really impressed me this season but we really need to tighten up our back 4. At the moment we have a vampire defence, they are terrified of crosses. Come on gunners! Lets thrash those woolly back bastards on monday!

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