Thursday, 31 December 2009

Job done and pressure maintained

The starting eleven was as expected, Ramsey coming in for the injured Denilson and otherwise unchanged. Pompey started with a rather defensive line up, just the lone striker up front. The game was pretty bitty early on, both sides pressuring the other into errors, but we did gradually look the stronger side and it appeared only a matter of time before a goal came.

Encouragingly Ramsey was very involved early on, there was plenty of give and go as he drove onto support the forwards. Our first decent chance came when Eduardo made a great run, got inside his marker and flicked a cross towards the goal, unfortunately his touch was not strong enough and the ball flicked harmlessly wide. Eduardo was looking lively, he had already made some excellent forward runs, and then just before the twenty minute mark he set up Diaby with an excellent cut back, Diaby forced a great save from the Pompey keeps. Diaby was also finding his passing range with some lovely flighted through balls. Sagna was also having a strong game.

Mokoena was having an impact for all the wrong reasons, off the pace and caught diving in on several occasions. At the other end we were lucky to escape when Boateng sprung our offside trap, only to miscontrol when completely through on Almunia. The playing conditions were rather tricky, the cold pitch was making it very difficult for players to keep their footing when just contemplating a turn. The first goal came after a free kick was given for Mokoena's dive in on Ramsey, Eduardo stepped up, a firm low shot was massively deflected in off Kaboul, how Eduardo deserved this slice of luck though.

Diaby was elegant in possession, Nasri was bright and very involved, Song brushed aside bullets and mortar fire as he got his body between man and ball to hold onto possession, Arshavin wasn't having his greatest game and was a bit slack at times. The crucial second goal came just before half time, Eduardo again involved as he broke into the box and cut the ball back to Samir Nasri via Aaron Ramsey's cut touch, Nasri finished with gusto into the bottom corner. The importance of this second goal at the time it came cannot be understated.

We started the second half well, the neat passing combined with the width given by our full backs looked like opening Pompey up at any time. Arshavin looked bright, the linesman denied him one certain goal, while he almost played in Ramsey moments later. Our high offside line continued to look a tad dangerous at times. Ramsey capped a fine performance with a belter, cutting in from the inside right position and striking the utter belter into the corner of the net with his weaker left foot, an outstanding goal. Pompey got one back with a well worked effort, arguably we could have been tighter but it was a decent goal. Rosicky came on to threaten the Pompey goal with a decent twenty yarder, Song then completed the rout with a very well placed header from a pin point Nasri cross.

One can't really grumble after a 4-1 win like this, Pompey are not as poor as their league position suggests, they do have some decent players and bit of technique/pace that some other lower sides do not. The most encouraging thing was the fact that a few players really stepped up their games yesterday, Nasri, Ramsey and Sagna were my pick of the bunch, Song and Diaby were also outstanding again. We will miss Alex Song big time, his ability to shield and ball and dominate the midfield has been phenomenal of late. If we can keep picking up three points against the weaker sides that we can really challenge for the title, I don't think we should become obsessed with beating all the big boys, simply don't drop points against the lesser sides. Three points against Bolton is as valuable as three points against a top four side.

On the striker issue, I think it is very easy to call for more signings. However when one considers just how few decent players are available in January then it looks rather likely to me that there would be no one around who could improve our squad. Bendtner is about a couple of weeks off, Eduardo is finding some form, Arshavin can do a job up front, Walcott and Vela both give us options. Fine, if the new Drogba was available for 2 million then I'm not going to argue, but what would be the point in bringing in mediocrity when have quite a few options already?


Ted said...

Well said 1979 and a good summary. To put in a performance like this without Fabregas or RVP shows the depth and quality of this squad. I thought this was a vintage Arsenal performance.

Obsinho said...

Good performance against a shit side. Though I dd notice that Utd's win was greeter with a lot more fanfare than ours. If we can win against Bolton to go second I will be interested as to whether the press actually view us as contenders.

On the need for strikers, I am slightly torn. We miss RVP. Yes we ar coping, but I feel tougher tests are to come. And it depends in Nikki B's ability to come back firing on all cylinders. Eddy was never there to take the RVP focal roll so it is disingenuous to view him in those terms. Equally for Arsh.

I know Wenger has not really played Nikki centrally, but he is perfect for the role & it is up to Le Boss to either play him or sign a replacement.

I would rather see him sell Big Phil at last (though I will be sad to see him go) and sign another centre back. Equally I would sadly be happy to see big money spent on a keeper. Manuel's form has worried me, and champions always have the best keeper. It is harsh, but we are in a great position and I would rather be ruthless than kind.

Anyway, happy 2010 to one and all. A hugely enjoyable decade in which to be a Gooner.

1979gooner said...


Wigan at home is a hell of an easy game compared to Pompey away,

the media did not reflect this AT ALL

K man said...

Happy new year everyone.

Thought we were excellent last night. We're going to miss Song but hopefully Denilson and Diaby will step up. Diaby has been excellent in the last few games.

Difficult to make good signings in January - I personally think we need to strengthen in four area (although obviously not all this January):

Goalkeeper - Manuel has been having a mare all season, it's going to cost us if we're not careful

Centre back - Gallas and Silvestre are out of contract in the summer and Big Phil seems to be out of time

Midfield enforcer - Song needs back up. Bring back Flamini please.

Striker - a big strong striker would be good. Rvp is always injured and Arsh, Vela and Eduardo are not main strikers. It's a big ask for Nicky B on his own. Huntelaar or Carlton Cole?

Anyway a signing or two now would be great to keep up the momentum but as Wenger says it's very difficult. We'll see!

1979gooner said...

Personally I think Huntelaar is shite, he's very slow and not a very good all round footballer, he would bring nothing.

Cartlon Cole is a talented lad, a bit erratic but he can be unstoppable when on form. I just doubt he'd want to come when he'd be behind Bendtner in the pecking order.

Anonymous said...

maybe Roque Santa Cruz. City have a glut of strikers. maybe Ade will end up in Milan after all. Cruz is always hurt though. also, the City strikers aren't cup tied for europe.

carlton cole would be a good signing, if he's willing to win trophies and be a champion.


Rhinogooner said...

Traore caught my attention a bit more last night. Very solid, though barely tested.

But the one trait I noticed was his excellent crossing. He put several nicely curled crosses into dangerous positions in the box last night.

No one was there to get on the end of them, mind. But our players rarely receive good service in the box like that, so were perhaps not expecting it ;-)

We're on a good run. Looking confident, determined and solid. If we want to capitalize on our good form, league position, and fragility of the other title contenders, we need to bring in two players in January, in my opinion. Even if they are just loan deals.

Two more players would keep the ball rolling for us and ensure that we aren't hamstrung by injuries (no pun intended!). And we need to make these signings early. No bloody piddling about until the end of the window in an effort to save a few pence.

We can avoid competition for the quality we require and give them some time to settle before throwing them into the battles against the teams we're vying for the title against.

GlancingHeader said...

Happy new year to everyone here!

That Craig Eastmond was brought on for 15 minutes looks to me like the boss will not buy anyone in January. I don't think any quality player will want to come if he knows that come the end of the season, he will be fourth choice striker at best. The situation is the same in the midfield. Who'd want to be behind Cesc, Song, Diaby, Denilson, and Ramsey come March 2010?

Central defense is a questionable area for me. It's clear that we are thin there but Wenger may just take the gamble to have only Sylvestre as the back up. That is a scary thought but I think that's what we will have to live through the season.

Bit pessimistic but that's just my thought.