Before this game the air still reeked of disappointment around Arsenal fc football club after a highly unexpected defeat to Hull city at the weekend which ended the gunners’ brief stay at the top of the table. Arsene Wenger was very upset by the defeat and like the players wanted to quickly get over it which is just as well as they had a champions league tie against FC Porto just a few short days later.
Wenger threatened to shake things up after the defeat but in fact he only made one change from the weekend and that was a very pleasant one for the fans as they were able to welcome Samir Nasri back into the first team to take up the left wing. Emmanual Eboue who had filled in at the weekend was placed onto the bench.
Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Gallas, Clichy, Walcott, Fabregas, Denilson, Nasri, RVP, Adebayor
Porto: Helton, Alves, Benitez, Guarin, Sapunaru, Rolando, Meireles, Costa, Fernando, Lopez, Rodriguez
The game started edgy, maybe the gunners were deciding whether they were going to give the fans a romping win or a super frustrating gritty win, we have seen them both at home many times but a win was imperative after the draw in Ukraine 2 weeks ago.
It took ten minutes before the gunners did their first danger move when a left to right passing move by the outside of the box via Nasri, Fabregas and Adebayor saw the ball at Walcotts feet in acres of space down the right hand side of the box. Walcott was bearing on goal but the angle was tight with the keeper covering the near post. The defenders where racing to get the block in but were not fast enough. The best shot would have been across the keeper and to the far side but walcott decided to go to the near post with an outside of the foot finish but the shot bent wide and into the side netting.
The next piece of action saw an end to end 2 minutes. Robin Van Persie recieved the ball in a central postion outside the area and after jinking the defender to create the shooting space he tried to curl a beauty around Helton but the Porto keeper makes a fine save and pushes it wide for a corner.
The corner was poor and was cleared into the path of a porto trio all breaking forward at a faster momentum than the arsenal defence. The attack looked extremely dangerous as it progressed upfield, it was a very arsenalesque attack and every fan would have been nervous watching it. The defenceman were bystanders as the ball was worked out to Costa on the right who crossed in a delightful ball to Rodriguez who got the ball ahead of two defenders to get the finish on it. The ball bounced of the turf and completely beat Almunia, however the ball was rising a bit too much and hit the top of the bar and went over. It was a great play and arguably the move of the match.
A half chance for Arsenal was then followed up with a thunderous strike by Lopez on the half hour which forced Almunia into a brilliant save to tip it around the post. At this point of the game it was 50/50 as to who was going to boss it.
A corner soon after was a pinball scrambled madness which required a goalline block from Clichy and some good clearing from Toure. Anything could have happened there but thankfully in terms of the scoreboard nothing did.
Just as Porto looked like they were going to take over the game Arsenal decided they were going to have none of that and scored a rather splendid goal. Adebayors looped headed pass to fabregas was controlled and jinked into position past a defender by the young Spaniard and sent back to Ade in the form of a through ball. Astonishingly Ade managed to stay onside and he was clean through on the keeper at a wide angle just like Walcott was. The difference is that Ade had a passing option and he took it by sliding it into the path of Van Persie who stretched out his finish into the corner of the net.
There was delight from everyone and especially Van Persie who has yet to find his form of old that had the whole of England talking about him. He has a way to go to get back there but a goal or two will help him along nicely.
Arsenal started to reclaim control for the rest of the half and minutes before the whistle Adebayor made it 2-0 by converting Van Persies corner. It was on odd finish but if it was done any other way it may not have gone in. The ball was headed onto the ground quite sharply by Ade, the ball then went up and hit the bar and into the back of the net, a bit strange but nevertheless a great way to end the half and take all the nerves out of the game that were there only 15 minutes before.
Ade was delighted and celebrated likewise, thanks to him arsenal were now firmly in the driving seat.
Half time came and Arsenal were comfortable in scoreline despite not playing comfortable half. Nasri had a solid half, involving himself in the play and doing all the right things. Although he wasn’t mentioned that much it should be noted that Walcott ran his pants off for Arsenal in the first half, it didn’t always come off but he was the most constant threat in the Arsenal side.
The second half had just started when the gunners decided it was going to be party time tonight. Some good hustling by Gallas on the right wing whilst in support of Sagna pressured the defence into a weak pass out in to the path of Walcott. Theo squared it to Van Persie who knocked the ball past the defender and ran past him to finish brilliantly with the outside of his foot into the far corner. Whilst it was a great finish it must be said that it was one of the most woeful pieces of defending the Champions League has seen this season by Alves who just let RVP run past him with no problem at all, shockingly bad.
Van Persie now had two goals with two top finishes and was looking to be reclaiming some form, now this is usually the part where he gets injured again and has to start again after a few weeks out but thankfully he made it through the match fine. He was subbed on 65 minutes in perfect health for Niklas Bendtner.
Arsenal were on fire and Walcott used the fire in his heels to strip the Porto defence down the right hand side. I cannot see how Agbonlahor is faster than Walcott (stats suggest so) as i have never seen such pace, he looks faster than Henry was when he was in the famous red and white shirt. It is probably a case that Walcott is faster with the ball and Gabby without because Theo’s pace is unbelievable. Any opinion on this matter then comment below.
Anyway Theo had skinned the defence and crossed low from the byline. The defender blocked and the ball came back to Walcott who once more crossed it in brilliantly to Nasri who had most of the goal to aim at. Unfortunately he couldn’t anticipate the ball properly and hit the finish well wide, and with his hands on his head Nasri knew he had missed a sitter. Wonderful play from Walcott who finished top of the BBC player ratings.
Eboue came on for Nasri on 65 minutes and 6 minutes later he was involved in a build up which led to a penalty. He passed the ball out wide for Walcott who crossed it into the box. His cross was defelected to Adebayor outside the box who passed it to Bendtner just inside the top right hand corner. Bendtner held the ball up and Guarin put in one of the most stupidest challenges i have seen for a long time. Literally hacking his legs from behind and putting him on the ground, clear penalty which Adebayor dispatched smoothly into the bottom right corner.
4-0 and Ade was chuffed about it. Whilst his dance idea may have flopped his kiss of the arsenal badge showed alot. You could see him pondering in his mind if he should kiss the badge by the slow and conservative way he did it, he was probably wondering how it would go down so soon after being a boo boy for some. He did it however despite any preconceptions and he did it in a more humble way rather than blatant which signals that he does care about the club and probably regrets being in a position where he might have to think twice about it.
Ade should have had a hattrick when Bendtner (who played very well) burst into the box and laid it off to Ade in a wonderful position but sadly he screwed the ball wide. Bendtner again turned provider when he used some skill and got off a great through ball to Vela who collected on the touchline very near the goal. He squared it for Eboue who had a pretty much an open goal from close range but somehow he shot at the keeper who saved the chance, that was an even worse miss than Nasri’s.
A skit in the box between Vela and Bendtner where they were both using close control skills and keep ball in the Porto defence even had Wenger laughing on the sidelines as the moc=ve came to nothing. It was impressive by the two youngsters but as to where they were going i am not quite sure, at 4-0 though it doesn’t matter and the boss enjoyed the moment.
The full time whistle went and the gunners had put to bed that defeat to Hull by wrecking Porto 4-0 at the Emirates. Porto’s defence should not get paid for their efforts today but they did look dangerous and times and this scoreline was not always on the cards. As for Arsenal they were class and showed that one loss does not change a teams quality or ability. They may have lost out on the top of the prem but they are now top of their European group and that is a far more important thing at this point of the season.
So off the Sunderland now which is tricky but if Wenger can keep them playing this kind of football then hopefully we can see some smiles again this weekend. This team can battle on all fronts, lets hope they be all they can be.
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