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.
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!
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.
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.
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?