Arsenal 4-0 Porto: a good response, Helton a clown and Walcott a beetle

What a difference a couple of days make. Arsenal are back on track after their weekend blip against Hull City, smashing four goals with no reply past a hopeless Porto side at the Emirates. Robin van Persie and Emmanuel Adebayor got two goals each as Cesc Fabregas gave a masterful midfield performance, tearing the Porto defence apart with his exquisite passing game.

Arsene Wenger had hinted that changes would be made from the side to Hull, but in the end he only made one – Samir Nasri returning from a knee injury to replace Emmanuel Eboue on the left. As a result, Theo Walcott shifted to the right to complete what could arguably considered the strong first-choice team available to the manager at the moment.

Despite the one-sided nature of the final score it was Porto who went closest to breaking the deadlock in the early stages. But they were denied first by the crossbar, then by a fine Manuel Almunia save and finally by a dramatic clearance off the line by Gael Clichy. From that point on it was virtually all Arsenal and it was no surprise when the boys took the lead just after the half-hour, van Persie sliding home after a lovely through ball by Fabregas and a measured cross by Adebayor.

Things got even better shortly after when Arsenal doubled the lead, van Persie swinging in a corner (I know! I know!) and Adebayor heading down and up and past Porto goalkeeper Helton. It probably should have been dealt with by the keeper but anyone who watched the game will know what a shocker of a night he had. I got a message from my little brother halfway through the game saying that he thought that Helton reminded him of an NBA player and I had to agree, so we nicknamed him PJ Helton-Jackson. I hope it sticks. Top bloke, but what a clown he was.

Anyway, the boys went in at the break 2-0 up and it was virtually game, set, match. All that was really left to see was how many Arsenal would rack up and, much to my pleasure, they got a third just a few minutes into the second half. Van Persie was the scorer again, capitalising on a woeful clearance to breeze past a Porto defender and flick the ball home with the outside of his left foot.

It was becoming a procession and the manager took the opportunity to make a couple of changes to the side. Nicklas Bendtner and Emmanuel Eboue replaced van Persie and Nasri just after the hour mark and both made an impression, the latter by running around doing stepovers like a silly bugger and the former by winning a penalty that Adebayor easily converted. I had this sneaking suspicion that he was going to miss the kick, but it proved to be unfounded as Helton continued his indifferent performance by diving the wrong way. Adebayor and Eboue celebrated in typical fashion, doing the sort of dance that would get me arrested if I brought it out in public.

As soon as the fourth went in the manager brought on Carlos Vela for Theo Walcott, who had a very interesting game. At times he looked a world-beater, using his pace to breeze past defenders, but at others he looked confused, choosing wrong options and losing possession when there were teammates in better positions. He reminds of one of those beetles that go blind because they run so fast – I’m not crazy, look here – the faster he’s going the more scattergun his distribution seems to be. It will improve over time, for sure, and the most important thing is that he’s playing with real confidence at the moment.

The boys continued to play wonderful football in the final twenty minutes and could have scored a hatful more. Walcott and Eboue were guilty of a couple of astonishing misses while Adebayor did his best to make sure he didn’t pick up a second hat-trick of the season, firing a simple chance just wide. But it mattered not as Arsenal cruised to a 4-0 win, one which the manager was particularly happy with following the match:

“We did not concede a goal tonight and we scored four. Maybe we could have scored a few more but it was most important to win the game and respond quickly in a convincing way and that is what we did.”

And you can’t ask for more than that. As a team I thought the response from the weekend loss was superb. There are still a couple of defences concerns to iron out – will we see Johan Djourou this weekend? – but in terms of technique and attacking adventure there is very little that this team is doing wrong.

As a final comment, I thought that for the first time this season Fabregas had a really great game last night. His touch on the ball was exceptional and his long and short passing game was a joy to watch. He brings out the best in Adebayor’s height with his long raking passes and involves the small, nippier players like Nasri and Walcott in the game with crisp distribution through the middle of the park and out wide. Well done, Cesc.

And that, my friends, is that. I can’t see us getting into as big a debate as we did in yesterday’s post but I’d still love to hear your thoughts on the win. Have a great one.

PS. Well played Kolo Toure :p

Have your say on Arsenal’s thumping of Porto by leaving a comment.



  1. I think the lads played a very good game, aside those early scary moments from Porto. Also Theo should learn fast especially is decisions inside the box.

  2. I agree with you Spanish- a fine performance last night, especially from esc. However, let’s not get too carried away- Porto were, after all, very poor opposition albeit after a bright first half hour. It was great that both strikers scored, but as you rightly pointed out, they both missed several sitters each. It will cost us later in the season unless both improve their conversion rate. RvP especially needs at least 4 chances before he tucks one away, and you just don’t get that many opportunities in the tougher Premiership games. We need to keep last night’s level of focus and commitment against Sunderland so we can start to build a run. That’s the best way to put the poor performances against Fulham and Hull truly behind us.

  3. @ Ian McCole – Too right, Porto were awful. PJ Helton-Jackson made me laugh sooo much. What a crazy guy, I seriously thought he was going to save Ade’s pen.

  4. Spot on mate. Good performance last night. Cesc and RVP are the two most important players for us. When they click there is no stopping arsenal. And by the way kolo did play well yesterday 😉 and gallas tooo..cheers

  5. think we played well, but largely because porto gave us space to pass. when teams press and harry us the passing goes awry. that’s what happened with hull. that’s what we’ve gotta fix.

  6. I would like to see Arsene start with Vela or Bendtner instead of Adebayor. It would be interesting to see just how many goals we could score

  7. Well…u can’t reply in a better way then what arsenal did last night.porto is a good team but yesterday were not their was assured by ur clown of the day.@SF just like u,i hope djourou should have played.otherwise we have to rely on our luck for cornerlike last night.also missing sitters & often doin a hleb can cost us in crucial matches where u dont get much chances.i hope this match will cool-off disscusons like yesterday 4 smtime

  8. I thought the game was a good performance, but although the defence wasn’t tested that often, when they were they looked a bit shakey at times. There were a few times at the start when it looked odd, then a couple of interesting backpasses near the end could have soured the day. But going forward Arsenal made the Porto defence little more than spectators. Nasri and Fabregas’ misses were pretty funny. You could see the team were enjoying themselves.

    I thought the best moment of the match was the patience of Adebayor with the first goal – holding it up for 3 or 4 seconds while RVP came in showed great unselfishness.

    Did anyone see how depressed Eboue looked when his step-overs didnt work?

    also, Fuck ESPN for their coverage after a 15 minute block of ads “Due to time constraints, parts of this match have been clipped” – ie. the first 2 minutes of the second half (AKA a goal)

  9. Well, I am pleased but not entirely convinced. Porto were a shambles and there were one or three really hairy moments in the beginning when it looked like things were going to go pear shaped. The lads rode their luck a bit and then managed to get their “complete performance” together. I am not sure what woulda happened if Porto had taken their chances though.

    Re Walcott: I think the problem is not necessarily him making the wrong choices, but Adebayor (in particular) making the wrong runs. The post match analysis on ITV1 showed Adebayor going out wide towards Theo for a return pass on the edge of the penalty area. He did this on numerous occasions when what he shoulda been doing was cutting in and heading for the 6 yard box waiting for a cross.
    If there is an issue with link up play it is with RvP and Adebayor. There ain’t no natural chemistry there. None.

  10. Defending was poor. not the back 4 but the balance between attack and defence in midfield was all wrong. play like that against a well organised prem team and we will beaten again. there was in fact no progress from the Hull game. Porto just let us play and our excellent attack will always exploit space.

  11. After yesterday’s performance, people have started saying how poor Porto was. Don’t you think that Porto might have been poor because of our superior performance?
    Surprisingly, no one is calling Aarbog poor, and yet ManURE scored only three against the CL debutantes.
    Finally, I still think Song gives us that calmness needed in midfield. i would prefere that he’s played, may be we might not have lost the Hull game.

  12. Nice post
    @McCole I totally agree with your comment, the team needs to start a momentum of wins to get the previous losses out of the way. It would also unnerve the fans, since we all expect the same performances as last season.
    T@ gazzap, if it wasnt for the fact that i just took an exam, i would dedicate this comment entirely to discredit your comment, but i wont, ill let someone else do the ranting.
    The squad played well and showed a high sense of dedication to win the match. Arsenal improved drastically in the defense, in the midfield and the striking capability (Even Bentner!). Its nice to see Arsenal fans praise Nasir’s game, isn’t he amazing!! Being a OM fan so ive have been following his progress since the beginning of his career and it great to see him do so good in such a great team like Arsenal! (A bit like Ade, coming in from Monaco)
    Looking forward to the next match, Sunderland is going to be a good test to see if the squad will maintain this winning mentality that Wenger talks about all the time. Need to watch out w/ Cisse, he’s always dangerous and has a lot of experience, Diouf alike!
    Otherwise keep up the goal count! COME ON ARSENAL LETS WIN THIS!!!! ALL OF IT, YOU GOT WHAT IT TAKES!!!
    Like Neo said ‘I want to believe’ lol

  13. What a joy to watch and i giggled like a little girl when vela went passed 3 or so players and then fluffed it when the camera went to wenger and rice giggling like little girls also. Cesc and denilson played really well and nasri and walcott were awesome clichy has got to be 1 of the best lb’s I’ve seen in world football and god knows why he didn’t get into the french squad at the euros is beyond me. funny how the england manager was at our game watching the 1 only english player in our squad while man u played (he wanted to watch a great game of football I suppose)

  14. Solid game. Nice to see Nasri back and play well. Eboue is improving from last year but Nasri is soooooo much more dynamic.

    Loved the article on the beetles. Found it quite interesting.

  15. Walcott had another good game, good to see Ade and Rvp get 2 each as they were criticised at the weekend for not being able to score. Vela looks sharp, unique and a good talent. Very good to see Nasri return to the side.

  16. @ butterfingers – Did you see that shot of Capello after Theo missed the sitter? He and his buddy were pissing themselves laughing at it. You can tell his mate said something nasty about Theo to him and he cracked up.

    @ C-Bass – Glad I could be of some scientific assistance.

  17. Good to see Arsenal respond in a good way…As fergie puts it when united lose a game…its all about how u respond to the situation.

    Well done arsenal. Cant wait to play you guys. Goto love a United vs Arsenal game. Best games of the year.

    PS. Fifa 09 is out and its brilliant

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