Rosicky and Fabregas keep Arsenal purring

Rosicky and Fabregas celebrate Arsenal’s third goalArsenal 3-1 Portsmouth Match Report

Arsenal secured another three points and moved to second on the Premier League table thanks to an outstanding 3-1 victory over a competitive Portsmouth side. The home side got the ball rolling as early as the 8th minute when Emmanuel Adebayor coolly converted a penalty won by strike partner Robin van Persie and led 2-0 at the break thanks to a poacher’s finish by in-form Cesc Fabregas. Portsmouth were then given the chance to get back into the game after the harsh dismissal of Philippe Senderos early in the second but Arsenal actually extended their lead thanks to some quick thinking by Fabregas from a free kick and swerving drive from Tomas Rosicky. Although Portsmouth pulled one back soon through a fluke of a goal from Nwanko Kanu, Arsenal held onto their lead despite the numerical disadvantage to record another thrilling home victory.

There were a couple of surprises in the starting team, not least of all the selection of Mathieu Flamini at right back. Manuel Almunia kept his place in goals and the defensive line was completed by captain for the day Kolo Toure, Philippe Senderos and Gael Clichy – who has not missed a minute of game time this season. Gilberto Silva and Fabregas were paired together in the centre for the first time this season, supported by Rosicky on the left and Alexander Hleb on the right. Up front, Adebayor got the nod ahead of Eduardo da Silva and took his place alongside Robin van Persie to complete a very strong Arsenal unit.

It is no exaggeration to say that this was one of the most enjoyable Arsenal matches I have witnessed in the past couple of years. Portsmouth came to play from the outset with John Utaka and ex-Arsenal man Kanu leading the line but with Arsene Wenger’s side delivering their best performance of the season so far there was only going to be one winner. Arsenal’s curse of falling behind at Emirates Stadium seems to be a thing of the past with the side scoring first for the third consecutive home game.

The standout players were undoubtedly the midfield duo of Rosicky and Fabregas, whose energy ensured that Arsenal continued to maintain posession and play creative football in the second half with only ten men, and Gilberto, who was back to his “Invisible Wall” best in the first half and slotted in effortlessly for Senderos after his red card. The side just appears that bit calmer with Gilberto in the side as he allows the likes of Fabregas, Rosicky and Hleb to wreak havok in the attacking third and that was exactly what happened against Portsmouth.

Emmanuel Adebayor got Arsenal off to the perfect startAnother great start 

As they did against Sparta Prague midweek, Arsenal were able to snatch an early goal after some excellent pressure from Clichy on the left hand side deflected the ball into van Persie’s path. The Dutchman took the ball in his stride and rounded advancing Portsmouth goalkeeper David James who pulled down van Persie for a definite penalty. With van Persie missing the last penalty against Manchester City it was no surprise to see Adebayor grab the ball and subsequently slot home a very nice penalty. It was later suggested in the Arsenal TV Online post-match show that Adebayor took the kick not because van Persie missed the last one but because the Dutchman was the one who was fouled for the penalty. Thierry Henry used to have this arrangement with Robert Pires so it seems a possibility, but we’ll have to wait and see who takes the next one to be sure.

Arsenal then dominated the game before some marvellous build-up involving Flamini, Hleb, Fabregas, van Persie and Rosicky saw Adebayor win a corner. Rosicky delivered in a fine ball that was flicked on by Gilberto before Fabregas reacted quickly to scramble the ball home. Arsenal should have had a third before the end of the half when Rosicky and Adebayor combined to good effect but the Togolese striker failed to pick out an unmarked van Persie in the Arsenal penalty area and the game remained at 2-0 at the break.

Things changed for Arsenal early in the second half when Senderos was red carded for an apparent last man challenge on Kanu. Without being biased I really don’t think that Senderos deserved to be sent off. There was no doubt he was the last man and there was some contact between the two players but it was unintentional as Senderos attempted to avoid making a challenge. It was a difficult call for the referee to make and you can’t really blame him for getting it wrong but the big loser will be Senderos as he now has to serve a three-match ban.

Flamini had another great game, this time at right backSensational with ten men 

Portsmouth enjoyed a good spell directly after the sending off but Arsenal survived courtesy of some excellent defending by Gilberto and Toure and a couple of excellent saves from Almunia. With the initial shock of losing a player over, the entire team lifted and played some of the best football they have all season. Rosicky, Fabregas and Hleb were harassing the Portsmouth midfield into mistakes and Adebayor and van Persie’s hard work up front meant that Portsmouth’s extra player never made a difference. Indeed, Arsenal scored a third goal to seal the match after Rosicky fired home cleverly following a quickly taken free kick from Fabregas. It was his second goal in two matches and the eighth goal from an Arsenal midfielder this season, making a mockery of the belief that Arsenal’s current midfield have not scored enough goals.

Although Kanu replied with a flukey equaliser, Arsenal continued to play good football and should have had a fourth when second-half substitute Abou Diaby unforgivably headed wide from six yards out. It was only when both van Persie and Adebayor were withdrawn in the second half that Arsenal began to lose their attacking verve. It is clear that Eduardo does not have the physical presence to play as a lone striker and the overall tiredness within the side meant that Arsenal spent a large part of the final 15 minutes on the back foot. But Almunia and the defence held firm and the club completed its best win of the season so far.

With Chelsea unexpectedly losing to Aston Villa and Manchester United currently off the pace after their slow start it is great to see Arsenal right up the top with Liverpool after four rounds. The side look electric in attack at times and the fact that the three goals the club has conceded this season have been two howlers from Jens Lehmann and Kanu’s fluke shows how well the defence has performed so far. With Almunia coming in and providing even more stability there is a real chance that Arsenal can push on from the good start and continue their unbeaten start against Tottenham in two weeks time. For now though, Arsenal supporters can rest easy knowing that the team is combining good football with excellent results and the problems that have plagued them in the past two seasons; lapses in defence and wasted chances in front of goal, seem to be disappearing as the side continues to build in confidence.

What do you think?

Have your say on Arsenal’s win over Portsmouth by leaving a comment.



  1. well done boys!!!,the guys were in top gear and never went look like slowing down.we are just second on goal difference to crappy just feel good that stupid morinho lost, thank the heavens for that,drogba can shut his big trap now.this as been a spendlor week, lets hope it’s just the beginning of whats to become of arsenal domaniance in england and for sendoros, we already have a lehman that proof costly,don’t be another liability.

  2. I wouldn’t say that Senderos is a liability. He played reasonably well before the unlucky sending off. Lehmann has been off his game and been deservedly dropped but had Senderos not been sent off I think he deserved to keep his place.

  3. Hi, i watched it via sopcast and thoroughly enjoyed it – that’s the arsenal i know and love.

    good performances: flamini (the utility man)! rosicky/fabregas in the mid were superb. and almunia was pretty solid.

    i thought abedayor was somewhat mediocre though. and maybe bendtner deserved a start?

    anyway… good stuff

    looking forward to scums on the 15th!

  4. Haha thanks Tom. I thought Adebayor was excellent last night in terms of link-up play but his final effort was lacking. Often the last pass or the last run would not quite work out and that’s more down to match fitness and alertness than anything else. Once he has some time to work with van Persie I think the partnership will really blossom.

  5. re Sendy’s Red.. unfortunately, he had to go. Kanu milked it, but Sendy’s somewhat poor positioning forced him to try and make up a few feet. Its arguable Toure played Kanu onside, but if Sendy had been playing square with Kolo then the card that ensued would have never happened. It was soft, but he had to be given the red as the ref whistled for the foul.. and he had to as Sendy did his best to interfere without hacking his man down. Like I sadi, Kanu milked it, but the ref whistled so there was only one result.. red. Gil slotted in wonderfully, and I thought everyone was fantastic. Flamster’s engine was still running at full rev in the dying seconds, chasing and driving down the right wing for the fourth! Yes, he probably should have stayed back, but he continues to re-affirm what a valuable player he is to us. All in all, great win and thoroughly deserved!

  6. I still feel that even though it was a foul, it wasn’t a bookable offence. I don’t even think it was clumsy, just that the two players clashed and neither had any intention to foul each other. It’s definitely a tough one. As for Flamini, you’re dead right, he ran for 90 minutes non-stop, just like Clichy does. The two guys are so fit, it’s like watching Roberto Carlos and Cafu in their prime sometimes. I think Flamini will continue to show us his versatility and ability this season, which is really good to see.

  7. Terrific performance from the boys yesterday and another typical Gael Clichy performance.
    Every title contender needs a prolific goalscorer,Look at us in the past we could rely on Ljungberg and Robert Pires.Chelsea have Lampard,Liverpool with Gerrard and Man Utd with Ronaldo all have that threat.If Cesc Fabregas can Keep up the good form,he can fire us to some silverware.
    secondly Fabragas had 3 good seasons each one better than the last and this year he’s added the one thing that has been missing from his game.Fabregas was the most consistently good player in the premiership last season and has just stepped up a level.He’s better than Scholes simply because he actually knows how to make a tackle.
    To me Rosicky is potentially a world class player.!!!!!!!!!!
    Tottenham 2 – Arsenal 4 .!!!!!

  8. Gilberto is so important to the team playing well…I’d be so disapointed if he left..he can play on for at least 2-3 more years. let’s not mess up and get him signed up right away.

    Rosicky – his best game by a long way

    Fabregas – I’m going to put a bet on him scoring over 10 goals this season.

    Helb – brilliant, no signs of flu!

    With senderos gone it is likely we will be a bit short in defence, so it’s good that the international break is the next couple of weeks, hopefully Sagna is fit by then.

    Also my thoughts are Wenger will wait till our next draw or loss before announcing his new contract…it’s a classic Wenger move to take the headlines of a loss away from the tabloid press.

  9. I feel it wasn’t entirely Senderos’ fault. When i saw the replays, it looked like they were trying an offside trap and kolo and Senderos were in line with each other. One man who was behind was flamini and he played Kanu onside. It’s the fault of the entire defense. Proper communication was required.
    Anyway we won and that’s the more important thing.

  10. phatrick – That’s a really interesting comment about Wenger’s contract. I will be very impressed if it turns out to be true. On the other hand I will be hoping he doesn’t announce his contract for the rest of the season!

    Nick – Absolutely right about Senderos. It wasn’t his fault entirely at all. Toure was as much to blame for keeping Kanu onside. However, I honestly feel that Senderos attempted to avoid the challenge and should not have been sent off. Anyone agree/disagree?

  11. Nick.. check the replay again.. Flamini was pressuring the ball and 5yds ahead of the line when the ball is played thru to Kanu. Kolo and Sendy where staggered, not playing a flat line. Kolo was playing Kanu onside. However, Kanu was behind kolo and directly in front of Sendy. Sendy had the play, the opposing man, and his fellow defender in his sight. Had he played even with Kolo, its unlikely Kanu would have made it thru. Its a shame really.. had Sendys “foul” on Kanu happened anywhere else on the park, it wouldnt have been a foul.. it would have been a yellow on kanu. But because it was 1 yd outside our box, Kanu was on a 1-on-1, and from behind.. it hasd to be a red, again mainly, becuase the ref whistled. he had no choice but to give red.

  12. Yeah, no problems. I don’t think anyone was implying that you had so it’s all good. I guess this is just one of those incidents where people will have their own opinions. You’re absolutely right with your description except that I thought Senderos did not try and foul. And in that case, for me, it’s not a sending off. 😛 Agree to disagree?

  13. Agreed that Sendy didnt try to foul him.. he did his best to put off Kanu’s run without fouling him.. the pace it happened at im not surprised the ref blew his whistle, thus taking the decision from that point out of his hands. Agree to disagree.. kinda! I strongly disagree about Flamini’s involvment…

  14. Oh.. I forgot to mention Diaby. I thought he was fantastic when he came on. He has so much ability.. Truly think he can be just as imposing as Paddy was..

  15. Oh Ok. Seems i got it wrong with the replays. Anyway i wasnt blaming flamster. I’d blame the lack of proper communication while implementing the trap.

  16. Haha I think when you mentioned Flamini you actually meant Toure. All is well, a consensus has been reached! As for Diaby, I agree. He was fantastic. He’s just about got the quickest feet of anyone in the squad and seems able to get out of tight spaces with real class. I would’ve loved him to get a goal with that header though, it really was a woeful miss.

  17. Yea. That was a sitter and i can’t figure out how he managed to miss that. Good for him that we were in a good posn when that happened.

  18. It wasn’t as bad a sitter as what Ade missed when Hleb fed it to him on a plate and all Ade had to do was stick out a size 15 and it would have gone in, instead he pulled his foot out of the way and jumped over the ball. I’ve never seen a player let alone a supposed striker do so much to not score a goal. I hope next game RVP starts with Dudu or Nikklas.

  19. Colonel – That was a little confusing. I love Adebayor as a player and I’ll naturally always be a little biased but it was a strange choice. I guess he thought that James was going to claim the ball. Having said that he should have put his whole body into that cross to make sure it went into the net.

  20. let eduardo start! van persie has not been up to standards and rightfully wenger should let ed start. its the same like how almunia should play, not lehmann

  21. gooner – An interesting idea. It’s obvious that van Persie is first choice but at the moment he is definitely struggling a little bit. However, the team are winning and he is valuable component of it – often occupying the leading defender in the opposition side. I think that Eduardo and Adebayor work extremely well together but really, van Persie should hang onto his spot at this stage.

  22. SF: Diaby’s miss was a shame.. it looked harder to miss than score. Also, spot on observation about his quick feet. he rerally can get himself out of tight spots.. between his large fram and quick feet, he will prove to be very hard to get the ball off as he continues to improve. As for Ade.. yes he did miss a chance. RVP missed PK last week.. Ade slotted home one of the cooolest taken PK’s I have seen in ages. Judging him on the miss is a bit unfair. He was a handful all game and I thought he played magnificently.

  23. You know I love Adebayor – it would take more than one miss to see him out of my starting line-up. I think he and Eduardo have shown to work particularly well together. But spots are tight at the moment and my front two is definitely van Persie and Adebayor. Eduardo will be well suited in certain games and he should be given his chances but Adebayor is a quality player in my eyes.

  24. I also think the bond/bet between Rosicky/Fab/Hleb will prove to be very important for us this year.. Hell, its proven to be so already!

  25. If Senderos was sent off for his clumsy tackle, surely James should have been sent off for his howler on Van Persie.

    The Arsenal midfield are doing exactly what they didn’t do last season – scoring heaps of goals. It’s a credit to how hard they have work – Fabregas, Hleb and Rosicky – in addressing this issue, and thus we see them scoring heaps of goals.

    My 2 cents – I was impressed with Diaby – he came on and create things – holding the ball up and making some great passes to the flanks, though he’ll be disappointed in himself for missing that point blank header. Again, Adebayor just frustrates me. Perhaps he is just slightly out of form (though Van Persie didn’t exactly set the world on fire during the match either).

    My man of the match – it was a close one between clichy, flamini and alumnia – but I’d have to give it to clichy, he was unstoppable.

  26. Interesting, Darragh. As I said in the post mine would be out of Rosicky, Fabregas or Gilberto. Probably Rosicky in the end. It says something about how well the team play when two supporters can suggest six possible candidates for Man of the Match. Hopefully the midfield can keep up it’s excellent goalscoring start against Tottenham in a fortnight’s time.

  27. Super game for the gunners. Fab has scored the amount of goals that he managed for the whole of last season, he fantastic. Sendy’s card was a bit harsh but it was a red card, if there was a card in betweeen red and yellow cards then Sendy would have got that card. North London Derby next week, arsenal in top form, spuds have no form and we are unbeaten. Also 2nd in the prem, on goal difference.

  28. Gilberto will definately play against spuds,!
    Emmanuel Adebayor-Robin Van Persie
    Tottenham 2 – Arsenal 4

  29. all i have to say is………………ARSENAL ROCKS! even if we relegate, i’ll still luv the team(that is not going to happen) i think the best midfield would be sicky,fab4,gilberto/diaby and hleb! good game yesterdae, watched it on supersports!

  30. agaisnt spuds

    Sub on Diarra, walcott and Ade.

  31. Wonderful against pompey………..i m still waiting for the game in the shit hart lane…..i want Arsenal to win…………..
    Come on gunners
    We will win those fuckers

  32. I m still wondering y Le boss is not giving Niklas bent.the chance he deserves….especially he is very good in air……i would like see that kid develop…what do you think Spanish FRY??

  33. Gooner guy – I think Bendtner is an exceptional talent and will be a great player. It’s obvious that Wenger values him because he recently stated that he did not want another striker because of Bendtner. I think Wenger wanted to ensure that Arsenal got off to a great start this season and did not want to take any chances with a young player up front, but he will definitely have his say as the season progresses. I honestly thought he should’ve started against Blackburn though.

  34. As far as the signing of diarra is concerned i think wenger signed him because when kolo goes to AFC in the new year he can slot into to the defensive mid position and Gilbs will be pairing up with Gallas.Also he can play very well in RB…..he is a very good signing according to me……..i would like to see Johan Dj being played at back instead of that he can gain good experience….But in important matches i think Gilbs.will be the playing the CD…..give me your comments Gooners……….

  35. Great to see Arsenal playing the ball round and looking great through the whole game, even with ten men. The difference is they got the goals on the board to make that easier to do without getting frustrated as we have seen in past years.
    Well done to Pompey aswell for leaving the bus outside the ground instead of most teams who put it infront of their penalty area and trying to play some decent stuff.
    Senderos’ send off was one of those letter of the law decisions, but how often, especially in the premier league, do we see the referees not really uphold the letter of the law. Defensively i hope we hold it together considering the injuries and suspensions going into such a big game at spurs.
    Overall good performance and great to see goals coming from midfield.

  36. Ausgooner – Nice thoughts, definitely agree about the ‘parking the bus’ comment – it certainly made for an exciting game. Where abouts in Australia are you from?

  37. The best game for arsenal this season, we got 2 first half goals, controlled posession and played 40 mins with ten men and scored a goal with ten men. An exciting game. What is amazing me is Fabregas. Last season he scored 4 goals al season and already he has 4. Last season he controlled the mid, fantastic passes and assists, this season he adds scoring goals to that list. Wengers quotes ” Fabregas is the new Paul Scholes “. I know scholes plays for a rival team, but he is a great player to be compared with. He is a key player this season. he will pair up with Diarra well i think. In two seasons we have got players from chelsea bacause they wanted to play for a better team. Robben desperately wanted to leave and so did Crespo, i dread to think what happens at training.

  38. they probarly watch frank lampard doing the training and they just watch chelsea training.
    anyways we got an important game against spurs, we have not won there for a long time, but i want 3 points and jol to feel the pressure even more, imagine we beating them lot and they sack the manager.
    i dont think diarra will get in the team straight away, but i dont mind, he is our “claude makelele”.
    am just hoping gallas will be fit for the derby, but i think gilberto might fill in and get into berbatov face.

  39. my mistake on sendoros criticism ,Spainish Fry. I was just anony by sendoros past performance and miss that opportunity to see his recent improving results.

  40. Great to see ‘the saint’ been nominated in the hall of fame, Dennis Bergkamp.If any 1 can score specutlar goals it must be the flying dutchman,no doubt about that,1992 -2002 he had 2 or more great goals nominated in english premiership.not forgetting that 2touch goal against argentina in 1998wc that sank their hearts to a defeat. a legend that youngsters can learn from!!!

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