Arsene Wenger rang the changes ahead of the Champions League clash against Manchester United and his young charges secured a European place for next season.
With one eye on the Champions League clash with Manchester United, Arsene Wenger put faith in his youngsters to secure the fourth spot but his attention could not stray away for too long. Ten minutes it took for Bendtner to break the deadlock as his powerful header squirmed through David James’ hands and after doubling the lead with a penalty, Vela made sure of the game with half an hour to go.
Andrey Arshavin was given the captain armband and the Russian admirably lead his young troops to victory. Brought down for the penalty and eventual second goal, Arshavin seemed to indicate to the referee Lee Mason that Sean Davis got a touch on the ball. Replays showed that indeed there was a touch but not a big enough one to deviate the ball away from Arshavin’s path, and the Davis’ trailing leg clipped the skipper.
Down the left Arshavin combined well with Eboue throughout the match and covered for the fluidity of his team mates on show. In central midfield Aaron Ramsey and Denilson largely had a strong game; both pressured well and nipped in with some good tackles to break down play.
Vela was a live wire but while all the technical ability was there for this young side the naivety of youth and indecision stopped what could have been a higher scoring game. The Mexican dallied in front of goal on one occasion and when his shot did come, was fantastically blocked by Hreidarsson. Reserves Bischoff, Randall and Merida came on and looked assured on the ball, the latter displaying some neat touches and interplay, showing that he may be most ahead in the pecking order.
However with Arsenal’s dominance, Portsmouth had a number of clear chances. Their direct approach and with strikers playing right on the shoulder meant the Gunner’s backline was forced deep due to the uncertainty of letting space in behind. This in turn created a larger gap between defence and midfield who wanted to push forward. Fabianski produced a fantastic save from Distin from point blank range while Utaka, Belhadj and Crouch wasted good one-on-one opportunities.
But in the end, Arsenal’s second string was too good for the Pompey who should avoid relegation. Pamarot’s red card rubbed more salt into their wounds as Wenger’s sharp and composed youngsters showed the big boys how it should be done.
Man of the match: Emmanuel Eboue– Maybe not as influential as others but showed great energy, bursted forward with great purpose and set up a few good chances.
Arsenal: Fabianski (8), Sagna (7), Song (7), Djourou (7), Eboue (8)*, Walcott (6) (Bischoff 64), Denilson (7), Ramsey (7) (Randall 82), Arshavin (8), Bendtner (8) (Merida 77), Vela (7).
Subs Not Used: Mannone, Coquelin, Emmanuel-Thomas, Frimpong.
Goals: Bendtner 13, 41 pen, Vela 56.
Portsmouth: James, Pamarot, Campbell, Distin, Hreidarsson (Kanu 46), Pennant (Utaka 46), Davis, Hughes, Mullins, Belhadj, Crouch.
Subs Not Used: Begovic, Primus, Nugent, Basinas, Cranie.
Sent Off: Pamarot (78).
Booked: Campbell, Kanu, Davis.
Ref: Lee Mason (Lancashire).
|0||1st Half Goals||2|
|4||Shots on Target||7|
|8||Shots off Target||6|