The starting eleven saw RVP rested for Bendtner, Diaby playing centrally due to Song's absence, wile Silvestre came in for Toure after his shocker against Villa. I have to say that at least two of our starting eleven, possibly three, are no way good enough to be starting games if you have title ambitions, that's the reality of our current situation.
The first half wasn't the most exciting, Pompey predictably got men behind the ball and defended in numbers, we just didn't have the quality to break them down. Eboue is a good right back, however the man is simply not a right midfielder, he looks lost in that position both offensively and defensively. Diaby and Nasri were trying hard, the former in particular got stuck in and was one of the few bright spots of the first half. Crouch had the best effort of the half, he out jumped Gallas and his downward header cannoned off a post, thankfully I may add. Our best chance came when Adebayor rounded James when clean through, Campbell slid in and knocked Ade off balance without touching the ball, it gave Distin enough time to get back and hack the ball clear, technically a foul by big Sol though.
The second half continued in a similar vein. A rare chance came when James flapped at a corner but Silvestre's header lacked the pace to trouble the Pompey defence. The referee had some fun by giving a free kick for a ridiculous dive by Boubadiop when Denilson had hardly touched him. A good Nasri break lead to a corner, following this a good Denilson cross saw James again flapping at thin air, Adebayor was left with just defenders on the line and a reasonable angle, he blasted into the side netting.
The refereeing inconsistency continued, every tiny touch on a Pompey player resulted in a free kick, while Nasri was booted hard from behind every time he held it up and got nothing out of the very same official. Bendtner was terribly disappointing, dropping deeper and deeper to get a touch, whenever in the final third his final ball was dreadful.
Vela came on at around the 66 minute mark, immediately his direct left foot forced a corner, then his second contribution was a great tackle and the release of Adebayor who wasted the opportunity, his third contribution was a great cross that resulted in a corner from which Bendtner should have done better. The pressure mounted on the Pompey defence, James was forced into a good low save from Nasri's low show.
Then the breakthrough, a free kick for a foul on Vela down the left, a nicely lofted Denilson free kick found the head of Gallas with James stranded in no man's land yet again, one nil to the Gunners. This goal had certainly been catalysed by the introduction of Vela and the removal of Emmanuel Eboue, the directness and width added by the young Mexican was a bit of a contrast to the ineffective Ivorian.
Overall the performance was decent, but I can't help but feel that our problems in breaking down Pompey were due to our lack of attacking quality in certain areas. On the plus the midfield pairing of Diaby and Denilson worked to good effect, while Nasri made much more of a contribution. It's still blatantly obvious that Eboue is not good enough to be starting games in midfield, while Bendtner needs to do a hell of a lot more to justify the faith that Arsene has shown in him. William Gallas also deserves a special mention for a great ninety minutes, no nonsense defending with some rapier like forward runs and a goal to cap it all, if William wants to stay in January then I think we'd be foolish to let him go.
For me though the final word should go to a young Mexican whose quality changed the game, obviously my amateur prediction that we should have started with Vela on the left and Nasri on the right might have resulted in us breaking down Pompey a little sooner, you never know though do you.