Arsenal 4-1 Portsmouth: Diaby the dominator

Arsenal 4-1 Portsmouth: Diaby the dominator

Arsenal 4 (Diaby 18, Diaby 22, Gallas 51, Ramsey 69)
Portsmouth 1 (Kaboul 69)

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Match Review

The Arsenal boys made it two from two in the Premier League with an extremely comfortable 4-1 win over out-of-sorts Portsmouth in the first home game of the new season. Abou Diaby’s two early goals got things going and although Younes Kaboul pulled one back with a powerful header, William Gallas and Aaron Ramsey scored second-half goals to round off the scoring in what turned out to be a straightforward win.

Just as I had hoped he would, Arsene Wenger made significant changes to the squad with stand-out performer Diaby joined by Eduardo, Emmanuel Eboue and Kieran Gibbs in the starting team. Nicklas Bendtner, Alex Song, Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy were all rested as Denilson shifted to the holding role in midfield and Andrey Arshavin switched wings to accommodate for Eduardo on the left.

Our players looked ready and raring to go from the first whistle in the London sunshine. Diaby threatened consistently in the opening half-hour and was rewarded with two excellent goals. The first was provided by Eduardo who burned the Pompey right-back with what is becoming a trademark bit of skill before sliding into the Frenchman’s path for Diaby to smash home.

Minutes later it was 2-0 as Diaby won a defensive header from a Portsmouth free-kick before running the length of the pitch to finish smartly after good work from Arshavin, Cesc Fabregas and Eboue. The critics will say that our strikers are struggling to find the back of the net but when you have players like Diaby and Denilson sprinting forward to help out a rampaging Eboue I don’t think it matters one bit.

It was delightful stuff by Arsenal and given the woeful performance of Pompey up until that point, I really felt another rout was on the cards. But it wasn’t quite to be as Kaboul caught Manuel Almunia out to score a remarkable headed goal. The Spaniard has to take the blame for the goal but the more I look at it on the replay the less I have been able to figure out a way that Almunia could have prevented it. Indeed, Kaboul jumped so high and so early that it virtually made it impossible for Almunia to do anything about the goal.

At half-time at 2-1 the game was seemingly up for grabs yet at no stage did I think the result would be anything but an Arsenal win, even with captain Fabregas being forced to make way for Aaron Ramsey with a hamstring problem. 

There was a tense moment shortly after the break when the speedy John Utaka got goal-side of Gallas and tumbled over. But with a foul and a red card seeming like the only option from the referee he waved play-on and replays have backed up the decision, revealing that the Portsmouth striker simply tripped over his own feet. Ironically it was Gallas who got the goal, inadvertently scoring after kicking the ball into his own head an in after Arshavin’s clever free-kick and a couple of touches from van Persie and Vermaelen. Another flukey goal for the defender, his third in the opening three games, but you’ve got to love those celebrations.

The game was essentially over at that point but our team got a fourth with 20 minutes to go when subsitute Ramsey scored his first Premiership goal for the club. Van Persie was the provider as he slid a very Cescy pass through to the Welshman and he finished comfortably.

Ramsey’s goal allowed Wenger to make a couple of substitutions shortly after as Arshavin and Eduardo made way for Bendtner and Fran Merida. In the short time he was on the pitch I thought Merida was particularly impressive, combining incisive passing with some nifty footwork as he and his more experienced teammates played out the rest of the game without much fuss.

4-1 it ended and despite a couple of tricky moments it was another comfortable, impressive performance and result by the boys.

Talking Points

I know it was only one performance but how good was Diaby? Given a free-role by the manager the Frenchman impressed as much with his work-rate and quickness of movement as he did with his two goals. Diaby’s second was as Patrick Vieira-like as anything he has ever done at Arsenal, clearing the ball with a header on the penalty spot before running the length of the field to slot home Eboue’s pass. Last season he was often criticised by fans for a lack of effort and desire but if he continues to put in performances like this then that will surely be forgotten.

It has to be said that our defence looked a little shakier than in the opening two weeks – but I do wonder how much of that was down to the three defensive changes that were made. While Eboue was one of our best players, Gibbs had a difficult time of it marking the very nippy Frederic Piquionne and Denilson – despite playing reasonably well – was less physical in the centre of the park than Song had been in the previous two games. The changes seemed to give Portsmouth more freedom in the attacking third than either of Celtic or Everton were afforded and that may be something of a concern for the manager.

We may have scored 12 goals in our opening three games but it seems a lot of the focus seems to be on the fact that our strikers have only contributed one to that tally. Personally I don’t understand the problem; if we’re scoring goals then it means the system is working. It doesn’t matter who puts the ball in the back of the net, all that matters is that we’re getting it there in the first place.

Final Thoughts

I said before the game that “rotation and 3 points should be the target” against Portsmouth – and that’s exactly what we got at the Emirates. With Manchester United looming large and a job still to do against Celtic it was imperative that a few of our players were rested against Pompey and I’m delighted that Wenger took the opportunity. I believe there will be more rotations against Celtic and – barring the injury to Fabregas – the squad should be in excellent condition for the travel to Old Trafford.

Have your say on Arsenal’s 4-1 win over Pompey by leaving a comment.

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34 Responses to “Arsenal 4-1 Portsmouth: Diaby the dominator”

  1. BendyTheViking
    August 24, 2009 at 6:08 pm #

    A few comments. We were complacent after the second goal and that pissed me off. Arsenal need to learn to well and truly bury a team before we switch to kick about. I agree that I think the changes shook up our defensive stability. I think both Gibbs and Eboue are less defensively responsible and like to get forward a bit more. With Eboue that is fine and I think Gibbs will learn when to go and when to stay with more experience. Almunia really fuck up that goal. I know Kaboul jumped high, but Manny seemed to not attack the ball at all. Part of me wonders if he lost it in the sun. Merida didn’t really wow me. He was ok, but not stellar and for the life of me I could not understand why he was on nd Wilshere didn’t even make the bench. Jack can play a big part this season, dispite his age but he needs game. Especially games at home where we have a good lead so he can do his thing and gain in confidence and experience. I like Fran, but Jack is just a better player who can make a bigger contribution this season so I was a bit disappointed to not see him play.

  2. TheSKAGooner
    August 24, 2009 at 6:13 pm #

    Exactly right, Andy. Rotation and 3 points in these kinds of matches is the goal. Even if they’re not the prettiest of examples of Arsenal football, the lads did what was needed and tucked home the points.

    Diaby WAS brilliant. And not just on the goals. MOTM was all over the pitch and worked well in partnership with Cesc, Eduardo, Shava and RVP. Eboue as well has some of his usual swashbuckling runs and did a yeomans job filling in for Sagna.

    Agree also that all the kerfuffle about the forwards not scoring seems a bit odd. OK – they haven’t yet scored (aside from Eduardo’s tip in). We get it. But we’ve scored 12 goals in 3 matches FFS. van Persie is still adjusting to his front striker duties, Shava is not fully settled on the wing, Bendtner seems actually to have had the best adjustment (although he didn’t really feature with his time on the pitch Saturday), and Eduardo has only just the one match as yet. And we’ve still managed to score 12 goals.

    Frankly, I’m quite thrilled that we’re getting goals from all over the pitch. The forwards WILL get things going. Theo, Rosicky and Nasri haven’t played a match yet and the full adjustment up front hasn’t come complete quite yet. But it will.

    Have a little faith in the lads, folks.

  3. Dally
    August 24, 2009 at 6:16 pm #

    As an Englishman we are as a race not ones to gloat but has anyone told you guys downunder that we won the ASHES?????
    Sorry, great result on Saturday, Diaby was very impressive as was Ramsey when Cesc went off, hopefully he is not out for long. Had to watch the s**rs game yesterday with two of their supporters, I didn’t think they had that many, at 1-0 to the hammers they were very quite, at 1-1 a bit more vocal and when they went to 2-1 were insufferable, lets give them their 5 minutes of happiness.

  4. butterfingers
    August 24, 2009 at 6:19 pm #

    But if it wasn’t for calamity james rvp had a couple of really good shots saved. Hopefully espn will show the celtic game and I can’t wait for manure and citeh as well if we can get another 6 points off those 2 we could be in for a hell of a season.

  5. Jeremy
    August 24, 2009 at 6:41 pm #

    The goal we conceded was a really soft goal.We have to keep reminding ourselves from taking our foot off the pedals during matches,is something we have to address.

    No room for complacency as tough opponents like Utd are coming fast and furious in recent weeks.

    No use having a whole team of ‘new-so-and-so’ when we are in a middle of a trophy drought.

    And i am quite tired of seeing complacent comments from some fellow fans.

    Stop these nonsense before the complacency spread from fans to players if you love the club.

  6. Cleture
    August 24, 2009 at 7:10 pm #

    If we can score an early goal against celtic on the 26th I think we will be fine. I really hope to see Diaby in the free role again with fab rested.

  7. Gifton K
    August 24, 2009 at 7:15 pm #

    I was very much pleased with the results.The midfielders and strikers did such a recommendable job.I dont underate the defenders but much as could see the portsmouth had quite a number of clear chances.This for me indicates some weadness on the part of defenders.In simple terms I indicate that we need some reinforcement.We should probably get one or two more defenders.Otherwise,cheers.I am very positive about the team.

  8. Hey Nonny Mouse (The ingrate)
    August 24, 2009 at 7:18 pm #

    I don’t really know what to say. Diaby scores two and plays well? What next? Sylvestre becomes Arsenal’s defensive rock??
    ‘anicoll5 ‘ in the last post commented that the Diaby haters were very muted after the match and indeed – I am one of those – and was muted. But I have to say, churlish though it is, that I was left strangely underwhelmed by Arsenal’s performance in general, including Diaby’s. I can’t put my finger on it exactly because surely if you beat a fellow Premier League team 4-1 you deserve nothing but plaudits right? But I’ve got a horrible feeling that we may just be paper tigers. That with only two league games played we’re celebrating a bit too soon. And that if a team really goes at us (like manure f’rinstance) we might get torn apart. God I hope I’m wrong. Maybe I’m just having a bad week. But bear in mind that Portsmouth have lost 3 out of 3 so far and Everton, who we thought would be a tough challenge, also lost again. I think we still need to see greater grit than we saw against Portsmouth. I’m quite happy to win ugly. And I don’t mind the strikers not scoring if the others are. Last season it was the other way around and we didn’t get enough goals from midfielders etc.
    But like Arshavin has said I still think we need at least one, new, top class player in a defensive role. But maybe Diaby will keep surprising me now?

  9. Johno
    August 24, 2009 at 7:19 pm #

    What a wonderful piece of skill by our number 10, the striker formerly known as Gallas. To catch the ball on his toe, flick it up onto his head and then powerfully down and into the net. As good a piece of technique as any displayed by past masters Thierry or Dennis.. C,mon give our new striker some credit, two wonder goals, one off his backside, and a straight forward header, that’s three in three, what a start!!!!

    Oh! and just a reminder to all you diggers down-under We won The Ashes and this time we’re keeping them!!!

  10. georgetown gooner
    August 24, 2009 at 7:23 pm #

    wenger has 7 days left to strength the squad if he,s really serious about a title challenge this season its as simple as that.

  11. Johno
    August 24, 2009 at 7:38 pm #

    Georgetown Gooner,

    Wenger will not be allowed to spend anymore money untill our participation in the Champions League group stages is confirmed.

    The income from that will be £30 to £40 million, so long as we get the right result against Celtic expect the transfer activity to start in earnest.

  12. Old Timer
    August 24, 2009 at 7:47 pm #

    Yes, I have to agree with Mr Georgetown there and Hey Nonny Mouse and Andre Arshavin and others. We’re off to a great start but really…so are Totnumb. Are THEY going to win the league? Look what the introduction of Arshavin did for us. Look what Vermaelen has done. Brilliant. Just one more, Arsene – or half-way through the season we’re going to be playing with Sylvestre in the heart of our defence and it’s not going to be pretty!

  13. GunnerBoss
    August 24, 2009 at 7:52 pm #

    So long as MANURE donot have that arrogant tweet who went on to MAGREED, we shouldn’t be having problems with them.
    The CELTIC deal is done and dusted, I guess WILSHERE should have some part to play in this.

  14. Senior Citizen
    August 24, 2009 at 8:55 pm #

    That is a good one. With a squad that was altered a lot, we got 4-1. That’s fine.

    I hope Arsen will come back with his boys with three points and a good number of points. THANX TO ALL THE BOYS. PLEASE HELP US SILENCE THE SKEPTICS OF THE MIGHTY GUNNERS. YOU PLAY AS WE DO THE TALK.

  15. Ianinja
    August 24, 2009 at 8:55 pm #

    lets see how we do against ManU, that’s the real litmus test. No offence to pompey or everton but we are a bit better than them overall.

    Arsene should bring someone in so we could get even stronger. As for Almunia what can I say, he’s what we got just got to live with it, hopefully he’ll learn how to intercept crosses better.

    I saw the Hammers game and thought that Spurs were very lucky. West Ham was on top untill Carlton Cole tried to be a wee bit too clever. After that West Ham just lost the will to fight.

    I’m more worried about our strikers not scoring, I really feel Shava should be in the centre with Cesc behind him it’ll be a killer combo.

  16. SOBIN THE GUNNER
    August 24, 2009 at 9:07 pm #

    Overall our performance was fantastic.personally i feeled that we are played in 4-4-2 formation,despite 4 goals my personal feeling is that we have to go with 4-3-3 formation,which can create deadly passes,that doesnot mean that we are not playing well,we are played fantastic football .DIABY played fantastic.COME ON GUNNERS….
    “IN ARSENE WE TRUST”

  17. I mole
    August 24, 2009 at 10:22 pm #

    The performance by guys was fantastic it shows dat even wen d team is rotated we can get result, concerning our strikers not scoring d season is still fresh ; wishere , ramsey ,gibbs should all get d starting shirt against celtic cos d match is already concluded .

  18. Andy @ Arsenal FC Blog
    August 24, 2009 at 10:31 pm #

    Nice comments everyone, good to see most people are in a happy mood. Three games, three wins, 12 goals and only 2 conceded – nothing to complain about!

  19. anicoll5
    August 24, 2009 at 10:42 pm #

    Hey Nonny – If Diaby deserves some of the abuse he gets – and he does – then equally on an afternoon when he played well he deserves a pat in the back –

    I shall take your comments as to the poverty of the opposition as that pat on the back

    As for Andrei saying we need to sign another defender he doesn’t – or at least not in the ST article I read – he says we need to sign top class players – most helpful – no names, no positions, no comment on whether they are available – obviously he does not have the very average recruits whose names were bandied about on here in mind Melo, Chamakh etc

    Perhaps we’ll sign Messi and Andrei can cool his arse on the bench for the rest of the season ?

  20. theicehalmmer
    August 24, 2009 at 10:43 pm #

    Good morning all, only just got out of bed. Feeling a little down about the result @ Upton Park but i can remain positive about our performance and the future. I believe we deserved a share of the spoils and feel very sorry for C Cole, but what a goal. DIABY, DIABY, DIABY… what have i been saying about that boy. He slightly reminds me of Patrick with added skill and a sence of freedom but with a little less bite and discipline. The role he performs will enable him to score many goals from midfield providing he keeps shooting with that wanderful right foot of his. He is not a holding or wide player although he can do a job which is why Wenger stills needs to invest in a couple of players which will help during rotation of the team and so that the likes of him Fabs and Eboue can stay away from injury because of the ground they cover. They should be known as the Les Trois Mousquetaries. I concur with what has been said about where the goals come from as long as they end up in the oppositions goal. The conceded goal was not entirely Manuel fault as Kaboul had the gambled advantage of a good run and jump which is why he got so high. Manuel could not run as the ball ended up in the six yard area. Eduardo impressed me with his movement and desire to score. I hope he continue to regain full fitness as he is the only fox in the box you boys possess.

  21. anicoll5
    August 24, 2009 at 10:45 pm #

    “Nothing to complain about”

    Andy – ARE YOU MAD ?

    We are football supporters !!

    If they wee giving away gold bars at the Emirates there are plenty of Arsenal fans who would complain they were the wrong shape

  22. billi_the_kid
    August 24, 2009 at 11:16 pm #

    first step is done, confidence is built, real test will be Manu now, Celtic is a bit of a must now, can’t imagine, they will fail there, but MANU and Manchester will show where the team is really classified, and then if all will be going well until march the team has to show if it can cope with the semi-final pressure, what I want to say is, in fact they have shown yet that they can reach semi-finals and fourth place of the Leugue, but if they could win the semis and decisive matches as well is music of the future, step by step is the motto

  23. GunnerBoss
    August 25, 2009 at 12:16 am #

    Ehhhhh….ANDY, we need a proven scorer and probably a more mature DM as well.

    Whats up with EDUARDO on the left? Please lets not kill that guys killer instincts in the box with dribbling on the side etc. This just shows you we have excellent players. What a job PROF. WENGER has done with the team.
    Lest I forget, did you guys see FABs. dribbling all over the place. This guys ill, he’s just too much….here come BARCA and MAGREED.

    Probably WENGER told DENILSON not to exert himself too much so he would not be tired before the next game.

  24. Paul (No1Fan)
    August 25, 2009 at 1:47 am #

    It was another great win but really, Portsmouth were awful!

  25. Medeski
    August 25, 2009 at 2:36 am #

    As a keeper, I tend to be fairly critical of those men between the posts. The Pompey goal was very much Almunia’s error, but it was not the easiest of saves. He needed to take a quick drop step as the cross was hit in order to jump up and through the ball. One of the first things young keepers are taught about corners and crosses is that you should never jump from a planted position and the forward’s head should never ever be higher than your outstretched hands.
    Don’t get me wrong, I think Almunia as performed admirably for Arsenal. This goal, however, should have been prevented.

  26. GunnersMan
    August 25, 2009 at 4:41 am #

    Second great win out of two premiership-wise, but the real test comes when we face a team that doesn’t give our boys all the space and time on the ball that they need.

  27. guyfrmars
    August 25, 2009 at 5:22 am #

    me thinks people are complaining about strikers not scoring because they put RVP in their fantasy football team.

    i mean why else would anyone complain bout the fact we won 4-1?

    with fans like these.who needs enemies?

  28. Andy @ Arsenal FC Blog
    August 25, 2009 at 7:13 am #

    @ medeski – Nice analysis of the situation, good to get a keeper’s perspective. But have you ever seen anyone climb as high as Kaboul did? It was ridiculous!

    @ guyfrmars – You might be onto something there…

  29. truegunna
    August 25, 2009 at 7:21 am #

    Sell diaby now while we still can.

  30. Ianinja
    August 25, 2009 at 8:10 am #

    Its not wrong to be worried about the strikers not scoring though you shouldn’t overdo it. Some media outlets (hmm sky?)tend to look for reasons to bring down Arsenal.

    The main reason most are worried is because RVP, SHAVA are all proven goalscorers, if they start scoring they will build a momentum that’s going to benefit us in the long run. Remember it’s a 37 game season, and strikers are there for a primary objective which is to score. Can we have a midfield that consistently score and remain injury free throughout the season? The sooner they start scoring Arsenal would have already added to the fine start we have made this season.

  31. butterfingers
    August 25, 2009 at 8:42 am #

    Everyone is saying we haven’t been tested yet but we have as it’s the lower teams we usualy lose points against so we will beat manure and citeh but the biggest test is chelscum as drogba always scores against us and I hate him with such a passion but verminator has already stated he can’t wait to play against rooney and drogba so the lad will be up for it and I can’t wait to see him block out drogba and kick him off the park.

  32. butterfingers
    August 25, 2009 at 8:44 am #

    Also citeh have bought slyvinio who will be next? maybe henry, viera or maybe get dennis out of retirement but then again isn’t overmars still playing for his boyhood 2nd div club.

  33. charles
    August 25, 2009 at 12:28 pm #

    sooo happy liverpool lost

  34. GunnerBoss
    August 26, 2009 at 4:51 am #

    Liverpool are never a threat

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