Just ten minutes before the game started I installed AVG 9 on my laptop and upon completion it asked for a restart. After the reboot, I tried to log on to the system and it logged me off immediately. I tried a few times to no avail. Even the safe mode wasn’t working and it freaked me out completely as I realized this was a serious issue.
At that moment I couldn’t quite figure out what to do. A few minutes of googling made it clear that it will take an elaborate effort to sort this out. I was quite perplexed and annoyed when the game started as I have spent a lot of effort on customizing this computer to make my life easy.
So I started watching the game in a really bad mood. It only took a minute to change. As the Arsenal players closed down Pompey I completely forgot the issues that had troubled me just a minute ago. When a ball was played over the top and in behind the Portsmouth defense with Arshavin and Eduardo chasing I knew this was going to be a day for some great football. And what a day it was.
As I have said before, when our players move around effortlessly and with the willingness to get in behind, it’s only a matter of time before the goals come. It didn’t worry me one bit that Pompey were working hard and got a couple of half chances early on.
When Diaby connected sweetly to an Eduardo cutback, I thought he scored. Unfortunately, the ball swerved a bit towards the end and it became easier for the keeper to make a save. Well, the hosts’ luck was not going to last all day. As Eduardo scored from a deflected free kick, I thought we deserve some luck considering the injuries we have been having. It’s now thrice in three games that we have scored directly from a free kick. That must certainly be a record of some sort!
The second goal was classic Arsenal as the ball started from the center, went out wide on the right and then across the six yard box to the left touchline before coming back to the center. Song played Eduardo in with a brilliant left footed lofted pass. Dudu maintained his composure and didn’t take a shot as there wasn’t a clear opening. He rolled it to Ramsey who took one slight touch before laying it for Nasri who finished with aplomb. Arshavin and I broke into spontaneous applause and I am sure many others must have had the same reaction. It’s good to see Nasri get a goal. He has been getting into good positions recently but it hasn’t worked out for him that often. It’s even better to see that there were four Arsenal players in the Portsmouth penalty box for this goal.
The third goal was all Ramsey. He made the challenge to win the ball as the hosts tried to bring it clear. The young Welshman then utilized the space to create an opening for himself with some neat footwork. And his finish was excellent giving the keeper no chance. Rambo is probably our best two footed finisher from midfield and that says a lot for one so young.
Our fourth goal was the result of Song bursting forward. He almost sneaked through but for a last moment tackle. As the ball fell to Nasri on the right, Song pulled back at the far post and the Frenchman found him with a measured cross. The finish was not easy and once again highlighted the fact that Song has a lot more to offer. Two years ago many people wrote him off, today he is a brilliant DM and a year or two later he could well be an unplayable midfield powerhouse.
In between the last two goals we managed to concede one. Surprise, surprise! I don’t want to spoil this day by talking about the negatives but it was painful to see Belhadj unmarked in our box for the cut back when we had four people back defending and Ramsey standing and watching on the edge of the box. Given the rate at which these players keep on improving, I am hoping we won’t see more of such lapses.
By the time the game was over I had this overwhelming feeling that this was truly a team performance. Everyone did their part and there was genuine belief in the team. It seems the handbrake has well and truly been lifted and this team is ready to take on all comers.
By scoring from free kicks and from outside the box on a consistent basis we have added multiple threats to our attacking potential. Teams will now think twice before getting too physical with us, especially in the defensive third. They can’t get too close and they can’t give us too much space either, that should help us open tight defenses.
We also saw some good crosses in this game. It does prove that on their day our fullbacks and wide players can put the balls in the right areas, we just need more consistency on this front. Of course, this goes hand in hand with the runs into the box.
The news on injuries is not bad either. Cesc is probably out for a couple of weeks and so is Theo. But with Rosicky coming back we won’t have that big a shortage.
Almunia: Not quite there yet, but is getting back to his best.
Sagna: Worked hard, linked well and put in some decent balls
Gallas: Top performance, just what we expect
Vermaelen: Top performance, just what we expect
Traore: The best third choice left back in the world. Makes some minor mistakes but has a great future ahead of him.
Song: Solid as ever defensively, was more involved in the creative side of things and picked up a good goal.
Ramsey: Passing, tackling, shooting, dribbling, you name it. Another one whose potential is scary.
Diaby: A quiet game when compared to the last two but efficient and productive nonetheless.
Nasri: A goal and an assist are just reward for his efforts over the last few weeks. I think he can be as good offensively as Tevez has been for United and Citeh. Just has to get in the box more often as he did in this game.
Arshavin: Certainly a more hard working performance than we have seen from him recently. His presence and movement is always a threat for the opposition and opens the space for others.
Eduardo: Good to see the goal credited to him and nice to see him grow in confidence as he has a big role to play in the coming weeks.
Subs: Rosicky had some lovely touches. Eastmond had a forgettable game but one he will never forget. Vela didn’t get much time.
It took me five hours to get my laptop sorted out but I did discover a fantastic free tool in the process. In case, like me, you are not a techie person and use windows XP, you might find it useful to create a preinstalled environment for future use. Explore this free software, BartPE, it could come in handy.
A happy ending to this day on all fronts.