Arsenal vs Portsmouth: 1-0, full-time report and player ratings – Vela and Ramsey were needed after all
Written by Chris on December 28, 2008 19:00
There’s no need to aspire for a football coach career to understand it when changes should be made. Luckily for us, it only took Arsene Wenger 66 minutes to open his eyes and realise that Carlos Vela was needed. Usually, he needs 89 to realise that.
The second half was more lively than the first but it still offered very little. In the 59th minute, David James misses his punch from a Denilson delivery but Emmanuel Adebayor can only sidenet. When you look at the finish and then think of the money A.C. Milan were ready to offer for him …
In the 66th minute, the sub I called for at the end of half-time, Carlos Vela replaces Emmanuel Eboue and goes on the left, with Nasri on the right and it just didn’t take long for our lads to use the Mexican in their build-ups. In the 72nd minute, it was however Nasri who was through on goal but his shot was bravely saved by match.
With Portsmouth happy to settle for a draw, their only opportunities came from counter attacks or slow build-ups. In one of these, Belhadj has a shot at goal, but Almunia was ready to save. The deadlock was broken in the 81st minute: Carlos Vela wins a free-kick on the left, which Denilson delivers, James comes out but makes a mess for the third time in the match and William Gallas is ready to head home for 1-0. A much needed goal and a deserved one for the ex-captain.
We didn’t see much of an improvement from the last match against Villa, but at least we got all three points. The huge problems in midfield are still all there to fix but maybe, just maybe, Aaron Ramsey has sent his last message to Wenger for a regular place. Carlos Vela was superb, he did his job to perfection, but I’ve been calling for Carlos for months, so no surprise there. And, with Chelsea caught by Fulham in the last minutes of that match, we have more to smile about following this narrow win.
Arsene Wenger after the match confirmed the Gunners still believe they are in the title race:
We were lacking a bit of zip because we gave a lot at Aston Villa in our last match. It was important that we were intelligent and patient. Portsmouth played very well and they were well organised and defended very deep. My team is maturing quite well, and quickly. We will fight for the title and we believe we have a chance.
Almunia: 6 – Very little to do, was nowhere near that Crouch header which ended on the post.
Clichy: 6,5 – Glad to see him back – there’s no-one to replace him in that position.
Gallas: 6,5 – Should have done more to prevent Crouch from rising so high and hit the post in the first half, but he was solid throughout and the match winner.
Silvestre: 6 – Did his defensive duties, the little there was to do, pretty well. Awful when he tried to pick up his team-mates with long passes.
Sagna: 7 – Yet another brilliant performance from Bacari. So glad he overcame all his start-of-the-season problems.
Denilson: 5 – Not much trouble for him as he played just in front of the backline, yet still managed to give away possession twice in very dangerous areas.
Diaby: 5 – Worked hard, some nice runs, but too little to make an impact.
Eboue: 4,5 – A quiet first half, like everyone after all, but the second half was simply a disaster, too many balls given away cheaply.
Nasri: 7 – I still believe he can do more, but today he was all over the pitch and very lively.
Adebayor: 5 – Wasted a one-on-one chance with James in the first half and an easy empty-net opportunity in the second. And some call him a “striker”.
Bendtner: 6 – I don’t want to be harsh with Nicklas. He was very much involved in our build-up and I believe he did pretty well out there.
Vela: 8 – Man of the match. His presence changed the match, but again, it comes to no surprise, that’s his natural position.
Ramsey: 6,5 – Did more in the few minutes he was on the pitch than Diaby did in a whole half. Ready for a regular place.