Arsenal 3 – 1 Portsmouth

Another game, another 3 points and another 2 goals from midfield.  Say what you like about Arsenal missing Henry’s ability to stick the ball in the back of the net, the simple fact is that we are righting last season’s wrong of not scoring from midfield.  And doing it emphatically.

The visit of Portsmouth should’ve been a tricky affair.  Pompey are a good, honest Harry Redknapp team consisting of experienced players and the odd bargain basement youngster.  They’ve already done for Utd this season and also ran Chelsea agonisingly close (for football fans – not Chelsea fans).  However, as it turned out, Portsmouth were lacklustre and insipid and thoroughly got what they deserved.

In only the 7th minute a typically sharp looking Robin van Persie latched onto a loose ball that cannoned off a defender and was brought down in the box by David James.  Perhaps a slight case of the yips after the penalty miss against Man City prevented the Dutchman from taking the spot kick himself, but Manu Adebayor calmly placed the ball in the bottom corner with the minimum of fuss.  1-0 and cruising.

Arsenal were knocking the ball around very nicely and try as they might, Pompey just couldn’t keep up with the pace and struggled to assert themselves on the game at all.  They managed a few shots on goal, but nothing of any real note and all were dealt with ably by Almunia in the Arsenal goal.  I have to give an extra mention to Manuel who has looked every bit a top class keeper since his installation as “No.1”.  So much so in fact he has almost banished the memories of his first few seasons from my head.  And that is some feat.  No one was more critical of the Spaniard than I was, but this season The Crossbar King has looked solid, reliable and technically very good.

Ten minutes before the break Arsenal struck again.  A Tomas Rosicky corner was flicked on by Gilberto who’d ghosted into space at the near post and was blocked on the line by a combination of ‘keeper and defender, only to fall at the feat of Cesc Fabregas who duly poked the ball home from all of a foot.

2-0 at half time and the lead was most definitely deserved.  But things got interesting after only 4 minutes after the restart when Kanu got the wrong side of Senderos, and the big Swiss was adjudged to have brought him down.  Straight red for Phil, and we were down to ten.  My first thought was that it was deserved, but on seeing the replays on MOTD2 I think it was a harsh decision.  Phil didn’t trip, pull or run through Kanu – he just got close and the tangle of legs saw the Nigerian fall over just outside the D.  It was reminiscent of the Davis and Cesc incident in the Fulham game that Sanchez got his knickers in a twist over, so maybe a bit of karma was in evidence today.

Down to ten, and Pompey began to rally a little.  But this was short lived when Utaka bumped Clichy off the ball a little too roughly, and from the resulting freekick Cesc slipped the ball to Rosicky past 3 sleeping defenders and the Czech midfielder lashed a low shot into the far corner, hilariously nutmegging Glen Johnson in the process.  However, The 11 men of Portsmouth were not going to roll over and literally on their next attack scored through Kanu in the most bizarre of circumstances.  Trying to control a crossed ball on the turn, the Nigerian somehow managed to ricochet the ball off his standing leg and it flew into the net past Almunia with surprising pace.

The rest of the game saw good chances for both teams, but Diaby should’ve sealed the win with a fourth but inexplicably headed wide from 6 yards after clichy has put the ball right onto his head.

Of the game, Arsene said,

“In the first half we showed tremendous quality, and in the second half we were tested mentally and physically.”

But then he always says that.  He’s beginning to sound like a broken record.

So another win and that puts us second in the table, behind Liverpool (on goal difference).  With Chelsea losing to their “Bolton” and Utd having previously lost to Portsmouth, things are looking good so far.  With The Spuds visiting The Grove for the next game, there’s a chance for us to really get this season off to a roaring start.  Here’s to that.

And here’s to your Monday

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