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Arsenal vs. Portsmouth

Emirates Stadium

28/12/08

14:00

Arsenal v. Portsmouth

Its depressing to write a preview only one day after watching my team throw away another win. This season has seen many disappointments but I usually have two to three days to recover before I have to write. Oh well enough complaining, Arsenal plays Portsmouth tomorrow only two days after a exasperating draw versus Aston Villa on Friday. All the pre-match talk is on Mr. Arsenal returning as manager to his former club, but in our present, dreary situation, I can't be bothered one bit to care about Tony Adams returning. The only thing I want is three points.

Vital Quotes:

Arsene is struggling to keep faith himself, no matter what he actually says in the press. 'We have to keep the belief that we have because out of Villa, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool, only Villa beat us at home.'

'I believe we have improved in those last two months tremendously. We look much more solid.

'We do miss a bit of belief I think, but we are still young as well.'

He is in full support of TA. 'There is no such thing as a natural manager but Adams will certainly be a great one and he has the qualities needed to become one.'

Arsenal Team News:

Adebayor returns from his wrongful suspension, and Clichy should be fit to start. Though Johan Djourou might miss the match because of an injury picked up during the warm up at Villa. Song is also out after pulling up before halftime last game.

Player to watch: Kolo & Gallas

Two words that haunt Arsenal defenders and fans, Peter Crouch. Without Djourou these two will have to keep him in check, which they have always failed miserably at in the past.

Portsmouth Team News:

Glen Johnson, John Utaka, and Younes Kaboul are all doubts for Pompey. Marc Wilson will keep his spot in the lineup.

Player to watch: Peter Crouch

Its pretty obvious why you should watch him, but if your mind seems to be failing you for some reason then re-watch the games he played against us when he was at Liverpool.

Match Facts & Stats

Diaby will be making his 50th Premier League appearance for Arsenal

Manuel Almunia is the only remaining player to start all EPL games for the Gunners

Home and away

League (inc PL Arsenal 25 wins, Portsmouth 14, Draws 23

Prem: Arsenal 4 wins, Portsmouth 0, Draws 6

at Arsenal only

League (inc PL): Arsenal 16 wins, Portsmouth 6, Draws 9

Prem: Arsenal 3 wins, Portsmouth 0, Draws 2

Ref Watch:

Alan Wiley will officiate. He has managed 13 Barclay's Premier League games this year handing out one red and thirty-seven yellows, giving him a 2.92 card per game average.

Match Prediction:

Arsenal are bad, but so are Portsmouth. Arsenal will score, and so will Portsmouth. So lets see who outscores the other, but I'm banking on a 4-2 Arsenal win.

Next Fixtures:

3/1 (Sat)- Plymouth (H)- FA Cup

10/1 (Sat)- Bolton (H)- Premier League

17/1 (Sat)- Hull City(A)- Premier League




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The Journalist

Writer: Brice Coffer Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday December 27 2008

Time: 9:07PM

Your Comments

I think Pompey have 4 clean sheets against our 5 if that's any encouragment. We'll get the 3 points courtesy of Eboue and Adebayor. Something like 2-1 or 3-2, just watch!
Andy-bayor
Hopefully Diaby will retain a central position in a 4-4-2 next to Denilson. Probably Eboue and Nasri on the wings and the chuckle brothers as the centre back pairing.
iceman10
Almunia; Sagna Gallas Silvestre (thank god!) Clichy; Eboue Denilson Diaby (in the MIDDLE?!) Nasri; Adebayor Bendtner. RVP, Fabianski, Wilshere, Ramsey, Gibbs, Toure and Vela on the bench. Very strong team!
Tom14
I preffer to call the Gallas - Toure partnership a center back parting, rather than a pairing.
Tom14
Sigh, I'd never have thought we'd feel the pain choosing between Kolo and Silvestre and say 'thank god' about having Silvestre-Gallas in the middle lol.. But it's a good lineup, like you said Tomf, I just hope Diaby gets a chance in the middle, he is just no winger, that much we know. I've predicted a 3-1 and can see us winning this one (something I haven't said for many weeks).
GoonerLou
This team does prove that we need a new CB, CM and a winger tho.
Tom14
It certainly does Tom. A keeper too .... or the balls to play Fabianski instead. I have lost all faith in Manuel "The Sloth" Almunia.
Rocky7
25mins in and our supporters are already getting on the team
gunnerkid107
Yeah GK disappointing isn't it? I was hoping they'd channel the -ve energy they showed against Liverpool into supporting the team today. I'm sure tons of them were swearing pointing fingers when Crouch's header hit the post.
GoonerLou
Ade missies open goal. I'm off to stick my head in the oven!!
Rocky7
Spurs have had "BAE" sent off though .... lol
Rocky7
'Wonderful' tackle by Distin...too bad he didn't get any of the ball
gunnerkid107
Rocky Ade didn't miss, he was fouled by Distin! He was going to shoot then the pompey centre back clipped his feet on a slide tackle
gunnerkid107
Yeah Rocky I was like ARGHHH too, but on replay Sol did put in a great tackle to block him when he's about to shoot, then Distin's back. Fair enough... (But still, yeah, he does tend to miss some 'easier' chances hehe.)
GoonerLou
Diabys been good for the second game in a row
gunnerkid107
Not watching the game, still digusted after the villa game, how are we doing in this one?
Armory
That was about the most boring 45 minutes of football I've seen Arsenal play since Arsene's arrival.
elbondo
Ade didn't have a chance to miss. There was no shot. He could have had a pop after he took the ball round James but he didn't expect Big Sol to pull that one out of the bag. van the man has to come on.
Tom14
elbondo, what a load of tosh. This has been pretty good from our current standards. Did you watch any of the 05/06 or 06/07 matches? Or even some this year? We have been good today.
Tom14
Ade didn't get a chance to shoot, but I'm sure somebody (Nasri?) got an ever-valuable assist attempt.
elbondo
I was thinking about the same thing Tomf - RvP for Bendtner maybe? Now it seems like one of the old games in which Bendtner-Ade didn't play well together.
GoonerLou
elb, it was Diaby who first time passed it after a great Eboue flick who has an assist attempt. And a stat that is very valuable in my opinion.
Tom14
Tom here's a word for you- hyperbole. I've been following the club for over 25 years and have seen every match this season bar one, and most in the last few years. But good today? You must be watching it on a blurry illegal internet feed because on a large television and Setanta they have been totally lacking in imagination.
elbondo
No Eldbondo, this can't be worse than that Stoke game, or Fulham away, or Villa home, or Sunderland away - this season alone.
GoonerLou
Where are you guys watching this game? I'm stuck with Gillette soccer special.
Rocky7
Lou/Tom: hyperbole |hīˈpərbəlē| noun exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally.
elbondo
On those things Rocky. Those things...
Tom14
It's being shown on Setanta Canada over here.
elbondo
I've told you a millioin times not to exagerate Elbondo!!
Rocky7
Its only hyperbole now because you cannot edit these comments. The statement: "We miss Toure's calming influence" would be a perfect example of hyperbole.
Tom14
Or "Diaby is playing the game of his life"
Tom14
Can anyone explain to me why RVP is on the bench?
Armory
tired.
Tom14
Was wondering the samething myself Armoury. The only thing I can think of is that he's knackered himself out with al his hard work over the last couple of weeks. He's been our best most consistent player recently. Baffling to see him on the bench.
Rocky7
If he is tired then why not play Vela, he needs to have a chance at a few games and can't be any worse than Nicky or Ade are at the moment. And where is Dudu, I thought he had had his comeback in the stiffs so why not put him on the bench and give him the last 15 min in a game like this?
Armory
Adebayor missies again?!?
Rocky7
ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
GoonerLou
I have no idea what Bendtner's doing in LW - if that's what it is. I can understand why Nasri's more in the middle trying to create chances. But just why not replace Bendtner if he's not doing much out of position, while we've got RvP, Vela and even Ramsey on the bench?
GoonerLou
If we don't win today I feel we're going to be in real trouble .... especially if Villa win their game in hand over now struggling Hull. This has been the most frustrating season in living memory .... and I've seen Arsenal pay under Bruce Rioch.
Rocky7
***** this, if he doe's not come to his senses in January and buy some quality players then the untinkable may be have to be considered and a new man brought in, there now, I've said it!
Armory
AT LAST!!!!!!!
Rocky7
will take a scrappy 1-0 happily. better not be 4 mins extra time tho!
Unwell
GALLAASSSS
gunnerkid107
Hate to be the negative one here but for me this only papers over the cracks.
Armory
I don't care how we play aslong as we get 3 points and put a bit of a run together. Spurs losing though ... always cheers you up.
Rocky7
God bless you West Brom.
Armory
I don't think it does Armoury, everyone can still see we need players, but this is just a vital 3 points gained (if we can hold on, which we probably wont) until that situation can be addressed.
Rocky7
i agree with both of you.. spuds losing is always nice news and there is no way we are gonna be on top of the league this season if this performance is anything to go by. very unimaginative, we go out and play like that every week and we will end up in more trouble then we are currently in.
Unwell
God bless Fulham too!
GoonerLou
Haha West Brom, and Clint Dempsey has Fulham level with Chelsea
gunnerkid107
3 points. That'll do. We've got a nice break from PL football now to get some f********* players in. It could be worse though, we could be Spurs fans. LMAO!!
Rocky7
Rocky I welcome the points but these points are not going to win us anything nd the cracks are still there to be exploited by some other team later on, we must be realistic and start asking some hard questions off the manager he is starting to sound more and more like the emperor in his new costum.
Armory
As I say bud, everyone knows the cracks are still there, but I'd wait until the trnasfer window slams shut before we start looking for a replacement manager!!! These 3 points were vital to our Champions League ambitions though.
Rocky7
Ok rocky I give it til end of January and if there is no incoming by 1 of Feb I'll start bitching again.
Armory
Everyone knows the flaws and weaknesses of this side, but are we going to question every 3 pts we get in this manner, or are we going to be relieved that 3 pts were won? It will be impossible to get any joy in that case. It was far from a convincing display, but an invaluable 3 pts. So can we just be happy coz there were some positives from the game.
prits
Prits I think we are all very happy with the points it's just that we are so bloody inconsistent, scrap a few points here and there is not going to push the team towards any achivements at all, we need to start to win game after game after game........ which has not happened and will not happen at all this season in my opinion unless we strengthen the side considerebly and wait til next summer to do so will quite possibly see us drop out of top 4.
Armory
Agree with Prits, let's enjoy the 3 points though we didn't play fantastic football. While we do need both, result is more important than performance at the moment.
GoonerLou
My God that was painful to watch! However, a win is a win which ever way you get it. Diaby and Denilson didn't look too bad to be honest but Adebayor was extremely disappointing and then Bendtner was also but he was playing out wide for most of the game so I will give him the benefit of the doubt on that one. This windoes indeed only paper over the cracks of our team, and we still need probably 3 players in the transfer window but rejoice, its our first win in 4 games since Wigan and we kept a clean sheet!!!!
itsup4grabsnow
I think we're all nervous at the moment because the transfer window opens in a few days time. We can all see the problems in the team and what needs to happen. The question is will it happen? It'll be no good protesting when the window slams shut and we are still bumbling along with half a midfield and a dodgy keeper with Wenger's 'we don't need anybody and we will still win the title' echoeing around an emptying Emirates stadium. A 'laboured' display today...at home... against a side in free-fall. Its our luck to come up against a side with even less confidence than we have at the moment. I'm delighted to get the 3 points but really they should have been nailed on. The result is more important today...but its what happens tomorrow that many of us are concerned about.
Wyn Mills
we don't play a league game in two weeks, thats something to be thankful for... hopefully we have new midfielders by then
TPowell
Armory, the majority here support your view, that this team can only improve with some signings. No offence, but I'm just a little annoyed with the repetition of that particular line of thought.
prits
3 points in the bag and thats all we can ask for from this set of players at the moment. Diaby was good, Denilson was his usual busy self, the bizarre tactic of playing Bendtner wide left though????? Very poor performance but we dug in and used our brains at the end, one to forget.
iceman10
Oh and lets see if the same mad media hysterics greet Chelseas last gasp draw against mid table Fulham as ours did against top 4 Villa.
iceman10
One positive was that in the last 5 mins, we kept possession by the Pompey corner and played out time, instead of attacking the goal looking for another one. Seems like this team is learning something, atleast.
prits
thats was painfull
fran merida
Most boring match in the 25 years I've been watching them (just kidding). They looked better in the second, Bendtner especially applied himself more and they really looked more inventive when Vela came on for Eboue and Nasri moved to the right. Ramsey isn't ready but I think Vela might be.
elbondo
Guys, I was at the game, just got back. As you all probably saw, there seemed to be a lot of sideways and backwards passing by us. OK, I know they had 11 players behind the ball and sometimes you have to go back to go forward but it was just so frustrating and we tend to overdo it. Particulary Denilson it seems. Also, I know that Ramsey gave away possession a couple of times but he also went biting into a couple of tackles, and that's just the kind of thing that was needed. Adebayor was very poor today. His control lets him down at times and yet he still persists in trying to be flashy when he just doesn't have that level of technical ability. At least Diaby looked better and has some real drive about him, if not the passing or vision.
Gooner_Vin
Phew, I was worried if Robin was carrying a small injury or what, nothing wrong with him, just tired from the Villa game: http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/-it-is-important-for-the-belief-of-our-team-
GoonerLou
Whew, that had a draw or Pompey sneaking a win all over it!
ForeverUnited
Gooner_Vin, I think your post encapsulates that there is a big problem when we play at home because the fans don't have the understanding or patience to let the players play (not that I'm accusing you of that). Against Blackburn in September, Arsenal scored a goal off the back of 27 passes, in which we went forward, saw there was nowhere to go, came back and regrouped several times before having the patience to probe the opening. That goal would never have happened at home because the crowd would have been booing and shouting 'shoooot' every two passes. Against a side as well organised as Pompey, you have to be patient but our fans couldn't do this and all too often we saw the players respond to that and hoof the ball aimlessly forwards. I hear people moaning and groaning in the crowd when we have kept possession and I'm always inclined to turn around and ask, "well, what should they have done there?" I remember a quote from one of Wenger's first games in charge against Sunderland, they had two players sent off after half an hour and for the remaining sixty minutes, put all 9 men behind the ball and hoofed the ball into touch every time they got it in protest at the referee. We went onto win with a couple of late goals and Wenger said afterwards, "you could put nine monkeys behind a football and it would still be hard to score." Pompey defended deep and without Fabregas, Rosicky, Eduardo and van Persie (and Hleb!) we were always going to struggle to create. But in the end we plugged away and found the resources to win, when we couldn't play through them, we won the game with a set piece which is very encouraging. I saw the Invincibles win a hundred games in this manner. Were we inspiring? No. But we didn't give up and we got the points late on, I'll take that all day long. Look at United's game against Stoke, they came up against a very well organised Stoke side, with none of their creative players missing, and won the game in exactly the same manner/ minute we did yesterday.
Little Dutch
LD - I take on board your points and I understand that in football (especially the way we play) you need to keep possession and go back to go forward. It just felt yesterday though that there was one pass too many, a tendency to over-elaborate at times. I'm going to put that down to personnel because Cesc would probably see (and be able to make) a pass that Denilson just can't (yet?). It's amazing just how great Cesc is - he makes the game look easy and yet the Denilson and many others around the world can't do what he does. It seems some players need that extra time on the ball to see a pass, control the ball, manouevre, and then make it. We lack a real thrust and drive going forward - Diaby has the ability/technique to provide that which is encouraging. We could do with another - either a centre-mid player who times his runs into the box a la Gerrard/Lampard/Scholes.
Gooner_Vin
I don't think that we overpassed yesterday but I do think we didn't pass quickly or frequently enough. It was almost as though they were having to go back to school and learn how to keep the ball on the ground. Of late Cesc has been relying too much on the long ball/ball over the top. That seems to be the price of having Ade lead the line. I think Cesc's game would improve enormously if we could get back to keeping the ball on the deck and moving it quickly. Denilson does have the ability to see and make an intelligent pass but not always the experience to make the right decision at the right time. You can say much the same about Bendtner. He is an intelligent and thoughtful player but the whole team seems to lack the confidence for runners to make the movement and for us to play the passing game that is really what has enabled us to control games more effectively. That's something we need to rediscover.
Amos.
 

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