Sunday, September 2, 2007

Arsenal vs Portsmouth - Match Review

Despite playing much of the match with 10 men after Philippe Senderos was sent off in the 49th minute, Arsenal managed to keep up their spirit to beat Portsmouth 3-1 and go second in the league behind Liverpool (at least until Chelsea play today). Two of the goals once again came from the midfield with Adebayor, Fabregas, and Rosicky on the scoresheet.

Emanuel Adebayor scored the first goal from the penalty spot after Robin van Persie was brought down inside the box by England goalkeeper David James. Adebayor almost scored a second just minutes later when he just barely failed to latch on to a cross from Alex Hleb. But Portsmouth couldn't hold off the second forever. In the 35th minute Tomasz Rosicky sent in a corner kick which was met by the head of Gilberto Silva. The ball fell to Cesc Fabregas who turned and shot, giving David James no chance.

Arsenal began the second half just as strongly as they had the first, and Pompey barely saw anything of Almunia's goal. However, it wasn't too long before Senderos got a 49th minute straight red card for stopping Nwankwo Kanu in front of goal as the last man back. Replays show that Kolo Toure may have been behind him, and was making a run to cover, so Senderos was perhaps not the last man, but thats how the game goes. The more unfortunate part about the red card is that Senderos will face a 3 match ban, furthering Arsenal's defensive woes, and leaving us with only Kolo Toure as a real central defender.

The free kick resulting from Senderos' sending off was well struck by Utaka, but Manuel Almunia was equal to it, parrying the ball which ended up out of play. With Arsenal down to 10 men Pompey were looking more capable of pulling back a goal to bring themselves back into the game, but it wasn't long before Arsenal scored their 3rd.

Cesc Fabregas took a quick free kick to Rosicky, who finished wonderfully, shooting into an impossibly small space between James and Glen Johnson in the 59th minute. Only a minute later Kanu pulled one back with a clever backheel, but it was too little too late as Arsenal went on to win the game with little trouble. In fact, it was Arsenal who were more likely to get a 4th, as substitute Abou Diaby headed powerfully past the left upright.

Arsene Wenger should be proud that his team managed to hold off Portsmouth with 10 men for the majority of the second half. The goals from the midfield are very encouraging, and as we continue to play more and more I am gaining belief that we can challenge for the title without Henry.