Sunday 28 December 2008

Pompey chimes drowned out

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.


Anonymous said...

one nil to Arsenal :P
3 points + clean sheet + no new injuries ==> what more can to ask in light of current season.

1979gooner said...


plus great performances from diaby and vela

i hope djourou is fit again soon

Ted said...

Thank goodness we won. It was not a pretty game and if Wenger had not made the substitutions, we didn't look like scoring.

I am not ready to join you on the Diaby band-wagon just yet. I thought he was ok yesterday, but no better than that. Vela can take some plaudits for taking his man on and bringing some directness to our play in the final third, but I didn't see a "great performance" from Diaby.

Similarly, I don't think Eboue did a lot wrong. Equally, he didn't really impress either, but that was the sort of flat, nothing performance of a game it was.

P.s. Sylvestre kept Crouch quiet for 89 mins. The one good header he won was against Gallas. Thats something our defenders have not achieved in recent years against the lanky goon. I know you don't like Sylvestre, but Adams' plan was to play on our aerial weakness at the back, and Sylvestre was a big reason why that plan completely failed.

K man said...

Silvestre was decent. 1979 might need to change his mind on him. I'm not saying he should be 1st choice but he is a decent player and can play at centre back as well as left back.

Vela changed the game - very direct and there's an end product nearly everytime he gests the ball. He's also learning to tackle, something Nasri might note.

We weren't good but clean sheet and 3 points was very welcome.

Bendtner isn't Arsenal quality and I don't see him improving enough. Roll on Eduardo's return. Eboue should be a back up for Sagna, nothing more. Jury is still out on Diaby for me - he has all the talent but often lacks the application.

1979gooner said...

Silvestre was certainly way better than Toure, mind you that's not saying much given how bad Toure was against Villa.

Silvestre is reasonable, maybe I do overstate the case at times, however he is not good enough to be our first choice centre back, he's amazingly slow and get's absolutely roasted at times when caught on his heels.

Maybe I'll be proved wrong and he'll become a majestic first choice centre back keeping clean sheet after clean sheet, I doubt it though.