Arsenal 1-0 Pompey; the Good, Bad, and the ‘holy crap a 1-0 win!’

Match Reports

ESPNSoccernet: When Gallas planted his header past James, who flapped in the breeze for a swirling free-kick, the Gunners fans were singing a familiar refrain.

‘One-nil to the Arsenal.’

It was, but it was anything but convincing.

Setanta.com: the former club captain, who pulled on the red and white shirt 669 times to cement himself as an all-time great in this particular corner of the capital, saw his dreams of outwitting his former mentor Arsene Wenger denied on 81 minutes when James missed a Denilson free-kick and allowed Gallas to head into an empty net.

Quote of the Day

“It would be a long way but now we just have to reduce the gap before we speak about the championship. In the last six games we have won three and draw three and out of the three draws we were leading in every single game, against Liverpool, Middlesbrough and Villa, and the teams won’t always come back to us. It is important that we keep going as we go. The team is maturing quickly and has shown great mental strength in the last six weeks” — Arsene Wenger, who always sees an empty glass as half full.

The Good

Arsenal put in a decent defensive performance to sour the return of  defensive legend and current Pompey coach Tony Adams.

A dour first half in which Arsenal had the best of chances squandered by profligacy poster child and fan whipping boy Emanuel Adebayor was followed by an equally poor second half. Yet, Arsenal found a way to win; the head of our #10, former ‘Cappy,’ and transfer target William Gallas.

More importantly, Arsenal held on to a lead which is a feat that we haven’t seen much of over the last few weeks. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t the most convincing defensive display, in fact they were a bit lucky, and really if Arsenal fans were going to be honest they would have to admit that it was Pompey’s utter uselessness with the ball that made the defense look good. That said, it’s always good to celebrate a 1-0 win, innit?

Credit also to Arsene Wenger. This is a man who is as pig-headed as any person on the planet and yet, there he was, switching up tactics by playing the 4-2-3-1 that I’ve been hoping they would play. It didn’t work, but god damn it was good to see them try!

The Bad

Both teams looked jaded, which is to be expected when you play two games in three days so it was a bit of a boring encounter. The only moments of excitement came when Arsenal failed to deal with a ball or Diaby made an errant pass — which he did a lot of.

As much as I liked the experimental formation, I have to say that Diaby needs a lot of work before he can fit the bill in the center of the park. In fact, for the first 20 minutes, I couldn’t tell where he was supposed to be playing on the pitch, because I’m not sure HE knew where he was supposed to be on the pitch. Once Wenger moved Bendtner to the wing, Diaby settled in a bit but still, I thought he was too eager to go forward to be a holding midfielder and not creative enough to be an attacking mid. It’s funny, he’s about as much of a midfielder as Bendtner. Hell, I’d go so far as to say that Diaby is a better striker and Bendtner a better midfielder.

The Ugly

After watching David James I can confidently say that Almunia is not the worst keeper in the league. I mean, wow. I feel for Pompey fans because their team put in a valiant effort only to be undone by the insanity of England’s current number one. That was the kind of performance that must have England fans hoping that Almunia can get his passport in order, and quick.

Oh yeah, please be sure to rip Adebayor for his two glaring misses.

Final Thoughts

I have to think that we just saw a preview of the rest of the season. Reluctant to use Vela and Ramsey up until this point, he’s now looking at a very depleted and tired squad so he had to play them. Of course they weren’t perfect but they are very, very good. Vela in particular provided tremendous width, good fight, and the ability to put in some decent crosses. Ramsey came on for Diaby and put on a bit of a clinic for the Frenchman. Well, maybe that’s a bit rose-tinted but you can understand why; he came on for Diaby who looked mediocre at best so, in comparison Rambo looked like a genius.

Using these two could be a sign of introspection on the part of the boss and thus could signal his intent to bolster the squad here next week. Or… it could mean that he’s going to “promote from within” and not buy shiat. With Wenger, you never know.

Oh well, hey Arsenal break back into the top four with this three points and that’s got to be a boost, at least until Tuesday when Villa travel to Hull. More importantly, Chelsea managed just a draw against a very determined Fulham and Wenger’s prediction that the other top teams are going to drop more points seems to be coming true; Arsenal are still 10 points off Liverpool, Chelsea managed just a draw against Fulham, and are tied with Manchester United who are seemingly saving half a dozen games in hand for a huge push at the end of the season.

None of which matters next Saturday when Arsenal host Plymouth in the FA Cup.

A week without football? What will I do?


7 Responses to “Arsenal 1-0 Pompey; the Good, Bad, and the ‘holy crap a 1-0 win!’”

  1. December 28, 2008 at 10:25 am

    Good. Summed it up well, particularly your Diaby comments.If he’s ever going to make it at Arsenal he needs to prove himself now when confidence is at a low ebb and the squad is more depleted than I can ever recall.

    Eboue was poor with many passes going astray and tackles missed. Fans on our best behaviour though, lest the lads confidence suffer further I thought Vela did OK when he came on to replace him. So did Ramsey, although I can’t quite reach your euphoric (smile) heights. The game had opened up a lot by then though. I thought we might even see Jack come on for HIS developmental opportunity, sadly not this time. AW obviously waiting until we’re cruising, 3-0 up before we see him come on. Probably a couple of weeks from now then.

  2. 2 keith
    December 28, 2008 at 10:30 am

    Yes a win its been a dissapointing season so far does not help when you best match winning players are out for a time.
    That said we do need to buy in Jan to cover for Fab and replace Flamani i hope Gallas stays as has shown commitment though another Defender would be welcome.
    I have been shouting for Vela to get a chance and think Nasri looks a lot better when given a free role

    Players i would like to see in and out in Jan

    Distan 10 million
    Inlar 15 millon
    Torre 2 10 million
    Given 8 million
    Fullar 8 million
    Bentner 8 million
    Torre 1 10 million
    Eboue 5 million
    song 5 million

    Total Spend 23 million

  3. 4 barnaby
    December 29, 2008 at 2:12 am

    Ten points off the top, hello January. As much as I would welcome quality attacking additions, I do hope Wenger finds ‘what provides something to the team’ to be a defensive midfielder or two…

  4. 5 WC
    December 29, 2008 at 7:09 am

    The game looked like Mourinho cloned himself and coached both teams. It was an ugly win but a win nonetheless. This should signal to Wenger that he needs to spend what he can in January. The attack was abysmal, but what can you expect from Bendtner? The kid worked his socks off but ultimately lacks any ability to be an effective striker – maybe it’s age, maybe he just doesn’t have it. RVP should have come on a long time ago with Vela and Wenger should have gone 4-3-3. Pompey had absolutely not attacking intentions save one or 2 faint attempts by Crouch but they played for a draw with their 4-5-1 and we could have easily bombarded their goal with a more attacking formation and player selection. He lacked creativity though Nasri tried his best. Abou had flashes but in the end does not that the vision and deft touch Cesc possesses. Defense was mostly excellent and Silvestre showed his once a month solidity. I’ve said it before to friends that silvestre is world class when you give him good direction, otherwise left to his own devices he gets clumsy. Wenger has to look at Sunday’s game and realize he needs a better midfield and quite possibly a striker though with Eduardo coming back that may or may not be necessary. However we rely way too much on Cesc and without him we look ordinary. We have to build a better team comprised of 11 players, not one player carrying 10 others on his back. There is definitely fundamentals we need to work on which has become more evident this season. Our signature sleek passing game has been horrible. We have had more turnovers this season than I can ever remember. Giving away the ball cheaply has cost us massively. We need to take more chances too. Nasri looked most dangerous in the game taking his shots when he can while everyone else is waiting until they break into the box which almost never happened most of the time. We need the players to have the mentality that goals can be scored from long range as well as short range. With injuries in key positions Wenger has to put his scouting team into overtime to find at least 2 players, preferably 3 in January who can haul us back into a comfortable CL qualifying spot.

  5. 6 barnaby
    December 29, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    WC, agreed it’s all about the cl places now, if we lose momentum and another team(villa) takes a cl place from us, that would be the most unwelcome development. Wenger has to act in Jan, we just can’t take that chance and wait for the summer to make needed changes. When looking at our strikers collectively I just don’t see any speed burners(walcott out and I’ve written him off for this season in terms of coming in as a decisive strike option), so maybe if something goes our way pick up one there, but yes midfield is the major concern. Power, pace, size, goal scoring as well as someone to rally the team defensively are sorely needed in midfield.

  6. December 29, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    Chelsea fans hate Kalou and Malouda, maybe we can get them for a Song?

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