Date: 28th December 2008 at 4:02pm
Written by: Harrissman

First of all I would like to thank Jbaker and Rug for covering for me on Friday, I just could not find a pub playing the game until half time. So Thanks guys PUP

Starting Line-ups

Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Gallas, Silvestre, Clichy, Eboue, Denilson, Diaby, Nasri, Adebayor, Bendtner.
Subs: Fabianski, Toure, Van Persie, Vela, Ramsey, Wilshere, Gibbs.

Portsmouth: James, Wilson, Campbell, Distin, Belhadj, Nugent, Diop, Davis, Hughes, Kranjcar, Crouch.
Subs: Ashdown, Hreidarsson, Defoe, Pamarot, Mvuemba, Little, Kanu.

First thoughts; Arsenal are playing with two big guys upfront, but Eboue and Nasri will give them options out wide, they will miss Fabregas. Glad RVP is not starting as are defence doesn’t seem to like a bit of pace about the, lately.

Pompey have dropped Defoe and following Tony Adams comments in the paper lately, Defoe could well have played is last game for the blues. Nugent finally gets a chance to start, and Wilson also starts again at right back and he is definitely one to watch for the future. I would expect to see Hughes, Diop or Davis in a holding role, with Krunchie in a free role behind the front two of Crouch and Nuge. Just one thought about defensive displays, lately we have been susceptible down the left, Krunchie has ruined the balance down that side and does not cover the same way Traore does when he plays with Belhadj.

First Half:
Pompey to kick off?..

Arsenal have the lions share of the possession in the first 10 minutes, Krunchie is moving infield too much and leaving Belhadj exposed. Sean Davis is playing the holding role in midfield, and is looking to pick up the runs of Denilson.

First scare, Wilson disposed by Nasri, but Sol covers well to bustle out Adebayor. 10 min

15 mins, Pompey caught in the counter attack, DOWN THE LEFT, Belhadj out of position but catches up with Eboue who had a decent head start, the boy is quick. Corner, but nothing came of it.

The Emirates is quite, you can hear the tension with the fans, Arsenal are starting to lose ground on Villa. I am starting to get a feeling that we could get a result here..

20minute, great cross from Sagna, and well cleared by Marc Wilson.

Krunchie is showing no real appetite to get forward and help Crouch, Nugent on the other hand is. Keep getting caught on the break down our left side, makes me nervous.

23rd minute, great cross from Wilson of his left foot, floated in to Crouch, who gets his own power on it and hits the post. Great Cross.

Nugent is playing well and playing on he shoulder of Clichy, however Krunchie keeps playing the ball behind him.

Nugent is played through and Almunia comes for the ball, plays back to Krunchie who shoots but is blocked.

32nd minute, great through ball from Eboue to Adebayor, who should have scored, James comes running out and misses his tackle and Distin charges in and clears the ball, he had to be careful that could have been a penalty and sending off if he mistimed that.

34th Minute, Belhadj on the break and no one with him, Hughes is charging up behind him but the pass is over hit, but Hughes forces a corner. Corner sent in by Krunchie, but the flick on from Sol goes straight to Sagna who clears.

Defensively Nadir is not good, going forward he is mustard.

37th Minute Wilson with a free kick, floated to Crouch who couldn’t get any power on the header. Pompey are no soft touch here today so far.

Half time, Pompey have battled hard, goalless at half time, with only two real incidents of note, the Crouch header that hit the post and Adebayor’s chance and Distin’s last minute clearance to speak of. Just the one card for Richard Hughes for a foul on Diaby.

Looking to the second half, I can see RVP coming on for Bendtner who has been very quite. RVP will create more for the team and himself around the box, and we have to be careful not to go flying in to challenges and lose the current composure we have. Krunchie really is not doing it for me at the moment, and personally I would like to see Pamarot on for him and play a 5-3-2 with Belhadj and Wilson able to push forward and support the midfield and front two with Nuge moving in to the centre, but then again that is why I am watching on the tele, and not in the dressing room making the changes.

2nd half..
1st scare of the half following an Arsenal corner, nasty moment for David James who came to gather the ball, flapped and missed, fortunately Sol was there to clear the ball.

Richard Hughes is struggling and looks like he is coming off. Yes he is Mvuemba comes on in his place. Free kick to Pompey following some a good run from Diop, Krunchie takes and hits the wall.

Pompey have kept the same shape since the substitution, and are battling away well against what seems like a very sluggish Arsenal. 57th minute, great run by Diop who plays in Mvuemba, ball cleared to Nasri, who catches Pompey on the break, Nasri plays a cross with all the time in the world. Cleared. Soon after Adebayor has a chance with an open goal, but he pulls his shot left a misses. BIG let off for Pompey there.

End to end stuff here now, and I worry that we may leave ourselves open. Davis is playing fantastic in the holding role and Mvuemba has played well since entering the fray.

Pompey are having a fair share of the possession, but with no final ball, we need to defend extremely well.

68th minute corner to Arsenal, free header for Bendtner, totally unmarked there a misses. Vela has had a lot of the ball since he came on, and Arsenal have moved up a gear, we clear the ball and it comes straight back at us.

It’s now Diop against Arsenal as he takes on 5 players, no movement from Pompey players and he is closed out. Diop is now struggling and Pompey could lose another centre midfielder by the end of this game.

73rd minute big save from David James, again caught out down the left with Krunchie and Belhadj popping up in the same position on the left side of midfield. James out quick to make the save.

VITAL 75th minute, great cross from Nugent, who whips the ball in to the far post, great control from Crouch followed by a cheeky back heal to Belhadj who unleashes a shot with his left straight down the throat of Almunia.

Pompey are pressing the ball well today, 10 minutes to go come on lads. Free kick to Arsenal, swung in well, David James again comes and flaps at the ball again and Gallas puts the ball in the back of the net. Again James is left wanting, an absolute heartbreaker for Portsmouth who have worked so hard for Adams today. I bet James will hope that Fabio Capello was not watching again.

Nothing is going right for TA at the moment. If and when Johnson comes back TA has got to play him and Wilson down the right hand side.

89th minute Diop has gone down like a sack of potatoes and looks seriously injured that looks like his ankle has gone. Looks like he might need the stretcher.

Keep ball from answer in the top right for them 2 wins in 12 now for TA, is it luck? Judgment? After today it was not for lack of trying. By the looks of it with Hughes and Diop both going off injured we are REALLY, REALLY struggling in centre midfield. TA was quoted today as saying ‘this game can kill you’, today we were killed off by a self-inflicted wound.


Join the Vital Pompey Debate