Portsmouth (1) – (4) Arsenal
Eduardo (27′), Nasri (41′), Ramsey (68′), Song (81′)
Fratton Park, Portsmouth
This was potentially a tough game for Arsenal as it was one of those cold and wet away days which could have proved to be a banana skin but in the end it was a four one conclusion.
It was a comfortable game and without Van Persie or Cesc Fabregas the team made it look quite easy, which is a credit to the starting eleven.
You can’t afford to lose points in these kind of games and while Pompy are rooted to the bottom of the Premier League they play decent football. In recent weeks they have managed to scare Chelsea and beat Liverpool, but today Arsenal put in a professional shift.
The back five were the usual suspects, and our captain’s absence meant a midfield of Diaby, Song and Ramsey.
Abou Diaby (who I’ve been critical of in the past) looked good again today (long may it continue) and Song was yet again solid and the defensive rock. I do worry how we’ll replace him now he’s at the ACN. This was his last game for Arsenal before he left and he gave is a nice parting gift with a great performance and a nice headed goal.
Aaron Ramsey was starting his first game in a while and I have to say he was simply excellent. I’m not sure if he models his game on Cesc Fabregas but his movement, passing and eye for goal are all top quality. I know the quality of opposition in the end wasn’t the best but tonight Ramsey was fantastic. He oozes intelligence every time he plays, and against Portsmouth he didn’t disappoint. He took his goal superbly and his all round performance was impressive, mature and composed.
Diaby again performed with purpose and was excellent going forward as well as tracking back. He is a player that we really need to step up with injuries to Denilson and Fabregas, and the absence of Song, but he looks to be finally reaching that level. Let’s pray that his good performances continue and he remains injury-free.
Up front, it was Eduardo, Arshavin and Nasri.
After the Villa game I said that Eduardo needs games under his belt and hopefully his lucky goal will spur him on to better things. His play isn’t quite there yet, and whether that’s down to confidence he needs to find his form. He has a real chance for a long run in the side with the injuries to Van Persie and Bendtner so we need him to keep going.
Arshavin was hit and miss today, and on Sunday I feel that I was a bit harsh on awarding him a 6 for his performance. While today he was a little better, the fact is that he is sacrificing his natural game for the best of the team. His natural position isn’t a central target man but credit to him you can tell he’s giving 110%. The results since he’s been playing in the centre (Liverpool, Villa and Pompy) have been very positive so you can’t complain.
Nasri looks to be improving week by week, and his performance was capped off with a well taken goal and assist for Song’s header.
And there’s nothing else to add really. Arsenal were for the most part cruising, but encouragingly they had the desire to win the game. One of our major problems in recent times is ‘cruising’ performances which lead to draws or defeats.
So going into the new year we are in decent shape – just 4 points behind leaders Chelsea with a game in hand against Bolton at home, which is on Wednesday 6th January. A tough fixture by all accounts with the sacking of Gary Megson – we know how football teams usually react when they play their first game under new management – so we need to be mentally (and physically) prepared.
Hopefully our form will continue into the new decade as when we left it.
And finally, I’d just like to thank you the visitor for reading my weblog and wish you all the best for the new year. Whether you agree, disagree or leave a completely irrelevant comment it’s all truly appreciated. Whatever you think about my opinions on Arsenal and football we are all united in wanting success and hopefully we can achieve that next year.
See you in 2010!