Arsenal 4 – 0 Porto, A Proper Match Report…

here. I’m sure I’ll reference some of the comments throughout today’s blog.

So, there we are a 4-0 hammering of FC Porto, and that’s exactly what it was. A hammering of a very good team. Okay, a hammering of a good team.

Arsenal 4 – 0 Porto
Van Persie (31), Adebayor (40), Van Persie (48), Adebayor (71 pen)

Almunia

Sagna – Toure – Gallas – Clichy

Walcott - Denilson – Cesc – Nasri

Adebayor – Van Persie

Arsene said after the game that if he was offered 4-0 before the game, he’d have signed up, and I would be inclined to agree with him. But after the second half performance, you have to wonder how it was only 4-0. A plethora of chances missed, but a more than satisfactory scoreline to take the points and increase the goal difference.

Porto started well and the early chances fell to them. It wasn’t until we scored, did we go up a gear and Porto down one. Early chances fell to Rodriguez of Porto on a counter attack when a smart cross from the right took out Clichy and Toure, but the striker’s  shot hit the bar.

The first chance fell to us, when some good play by Nasri, Cesc and Clichy saw Van Persie on the D with a defender in front of him, pulling out a good save from the Porto keeper. From the resulting corner, Rodriguez went down the other end and had his chance. Lisandro, Porto’s number 9, was next to have an attempt on goal. A good shot from distance and a good save from Almunia. From that corner, the ball bobbled around, Clichy clearing from the line and Toure hacking away.

But with half an hour on the clock, an excellent through ball from Cesc (from Ade winning a header), put Ade through. The Togan waited for Van Persie to make the run, and the Dutchman slotted in from after a diagonal run and a left footed toe poke to make it one nil.

One nil soon became two as a corner for us saw Van Persie with an inswinging. Ade connected and headed down, and the ball seemed to bounce over the Portuguese defence and into the back of the net.

2-0 at the break and the confidence was flowing.

We started the second half just as we finished the first and good pressure from Sagna and Gallas (on the right wing) saw the ball fall to Walcott who passed to Van Persie who then went onto “walk” through his defence and another left footed toe poke from the outside of his boot made it 3-0! What on earth Bruno Alves was doing, I don’t know.

The next chance fell to Walcott. A short(ish) corner from Cesc, saw Toure cut in and square to an unmarked Theo Walcott, 6 yards out and fairly central. How on eath did his miss that?

Another chance soon cam our way, when Nasri shot from about 25 yards, a good save from Helton. A shot from Cesc and an attempted Ade rebound saw chances go by.

Bendtner for Van Persie, a job well done.

But it was soon to be four. A quick break, instigated from Bendtner, involving Eboue and Ade, forced Walcott out wide, but when it came back to Bendtner, he found himself hacked in the area by Gaurin. Penalty. Definite penalty.

Adebayor steps up and wrong foots the keeper, Arsenal 4-0. At this point, it should have been at least 5 or 6, but we were definitely going to try.

The next chance saw Bendtner go past about 4 defenders before delivering it to Ade on a plate, but he skewed his shot wide.

There were so many other chances, it’s a long list. Carlos Vela came on and showed some excellent skills too.

Full time 4-0. It could have been 8.

Let’s take a look at the comments from yesterday, with Kieran Delaney summing up the last two performances very well:

In short we were lucky not to be 2-0 down and then wasteful not to win 8-0 at the end. The trouble is that’s exactly what happened against Hull, except they scored their chances and we didn’t create as many chances to waste. We played slightly better but the problems were still there, under the goals and relief.

Dan also summed out how some of feel and how it’s down to a bit of luck and taking our chances:

Each game really could go either way, and it always seems to depend on how WE defend corners, and whether WE score enough of our tons of chances. Our results are almost independent of the opposition! Which sounds crazy i know.

There’s a lot more where that came from, take a look at yesterday’s commentswhen you have a chance (and thanks to all those who left them!). And who does like that Adebayor dance?

Arsene was quite pleased but also defensive of his team selection:

“It is what we expected. 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.

“I was tempted to make more than one change but I did not because I did not want to give the feeling that you punish one more than another. I believe sometimes you give the team the chance to respond quickly. I made one change and it was because Nasri is a more natural left-sided wide-player than Eboue. The change was not to punish anybody I just believe we needed to respond quickly as a team.

“I think it was perhaps the most complete performance of the season.”

I wouldn’t personally say that it was the most complete performance, but don’t get me wrong, it was a very good performance against top opposition. I think we were truly magnificent against Blackburn back in September. That performance was a performance to saviour.

Arsene gave particular praise to Cesc for his performance saying:

“I think he was outstanding tonight. He was good defensively and offensively and overall it was the ‘complete performance’.”

Maybe Hull was a kick up the backside, because Porto aren’t a bad side, a side which are continually finish in the top two in the Portuguese and previous winners of the tournament.

On our defensive performance, Arsene said:

“I believe that the first time they caught us tonight was on the break from one of our corners. We were caught on the break, but that is maybe the only real time when we were lucky.  The second time was on the corner when Clichy saved on the line. Those were the two times when they were dangerous tonight. Overall we were much more disciplined and focused on corners. The fight in the air was there.”

Something very interesting that Yogi’s Warrior said on his blog, A Cultured Left Foot, circulated around the Toure – Gallas partnership and pointed out some very interesting facts:

There are still weaknesses – set pieces, possibly central midfield but that cannot be judged until much later in the season – but I wonder how many are real and perceived. Is there a problem really at the heart of the defence or has it just been ‘lapses’? Arguments about Toure and Gallas together will rage, surfacing even when there is a clean sheet to fall back on. The case for them is the absence of goals from open play – there has been, from memory, one goal conceded from open play in the league this season so there is a strong argument that the partnership does work, being culpable from set-plays does not necessarily mean that Gallas / Toure should be broken up.

If you think back, only Geovanni has scored from open play, with Cousin’s goal coming from a corner. Davies header for Bolton also came from a header and the goal in Kiev came from a penalty and Brede Hangeland’s goal for Fulham came from a deal ball situation too. We’ve conceded 5 goals this season and 4 have come from set pieces. Yes, there is some work to do, but when you count it up, we’ve score 28 goals this season!

That’s pretty amazing when you think about it…

Tomorrow I’ll take a look at all the cafuffle about Walcott…]]>

  • http://kierandelaney.net/blog kierandelaney.net/blog

    < ![CDATA[I agree we have an awesome central defence, but I'd be interested to know what percentage of goals our rivals concede from set pieces. The statistics make it all the more frustrating, because as I commented yesterday, without those lapses we'd have one every game we've played (except in Kiev I guess, you can't legislate for a moody penalty).

    I also wanted to say - I like the idea of repeating relevant comments from readers etc, makes it all feel very community-esque. Keep up the good work, always the first stop when I get to work!]]>

  • Dan

    < ![CDATA[That stat about goals for and against is crazy! And here i am moaning about us not taking our chances... Hang on its true, we are missing loads of chances. Thats even more incredible. I guess we can safely say the midfield is certainly creating this season.

    You could also say that Flamini hasn't left a huge hole, else would we have only conceded 1 in open play. I'm sure Flamini was also the beginning of many attacks but were doing alright there anyway.

    Like Kieran says, doing everything right, but then becoming breathing statues on defensive corners frustrates the hell out of me.]]>

  • Dan

    Actually rethinking, maby Flamini’s grit is missed when we go under the cosh, a goal down or what have you?