Abou Diaby scored two goals in Arsenal’s 4-1 rout of Portsmouth, the Gunners displaying a mastery of movement in the final third.
Arsenal 4-1 Portsmouth
Much has been made of the lack of goals from Arsenal’s recognised strikers – only Eduardo has scored of the twelve Arsenal goals – but if you’re creating chances and most crucially, scoring them then there really is nothing to worry about.
Indeed Robin Van Persie could have had a hat-trick while Eduardo was at his magic best as the Gunners put in a comprehensive display to defeat troubled Portsmouth. But at 2-1 down the South Coast where left ruing their luck as William Gallas’ ‘trip’ on Utaka when through on goal went unpunished and the the Frenchman subsequently scored the third. Gallas is likely not to score two more ugly goals following his deflected goal at Celtic as his shot came back of his face.
The other three goals however were altogether less controversial and all signifying the direction that Arsenal are going through.
All the talk is about the new 4-2-3-1 system but it is the attitude of the players that has made it a premature success. Their understanding of each other and also their roles has seen some of the signs of weakness in pre-season ironed out and in turn produced a few strengths. The side is closing down quicker and making the pitch look big while the passing and movement is now more calculated, getting into position as the situation so desires.
The first goal saw Eduardo skin past Marc Wilson on the left before finding Abou Diaby’s runs at the edge of the box who scored with an accurate finish. The French midfielder then made it two after a quick break away as Eboue latched onto Fabregas’ long ball and fed the unmarked Diaby to slot past James. The goal came from a Pompey corner kick and Arsenal’s willingness to break forward quickly into the opposition box was particularly welcoming. Aaron Ramsey made the game secure with a calm finish after a fantastic through ball from Robin Van Persie.
This is a system which will only be a success through good forward movement and so far the Gunners are doing that. Modern football has shown goalscoring must be shared and with the physical development of the game meaning midfielders are expected to do more. Robin Van Persie’s ability to drop deep and find space creates gaps behind for the midfielders by dragging defenders with him. Wenger is hoping also that the Dutchman does develop his play higher and produce the two roles complementary.
At the other end Portsmouth did produce their moments of danger, particularly down the right hand side. Celtic had much joy from the wide positions also and there is a feeling that this is an area where teams may be able to profit from, particularly when the wingers remain high up. However such a question has been posed to Barcelona in their 4-3-3 and time and time again, the defenders have come up trumps.
Man of the Match: Abou Diaby – Had Fabregas stayed on it would have been him nevertheless Diaby was consistent and composed, thoroughly deserving his two goals.
Arsenal: Almunia (6), Eboue (7), Gallas (7), Vermaelen (7), Gibbs (7), Diaby (8)*, Fabregas (8) (Ramsey 8), Denilson (7), Arshavin (7) (Merida 6), van Persie (7), Eduardo (7) (Bedntner 6).
Subs not used: Sagna, Mannone,, Song Billong, Clichy.
Portsmouth: James, Wilson, Kaboul, Distin, Belhadj, Utaka, Mokoena, Mullins, Kranjcar, Kanu, Piquionne.
Subs: Nugent, Begovic, Vanden Borre, Hughes, Basinas, Ward, Ritchie.
Referee: Steve Bennett (Kent)
|2||1st Half Goals||1|
|12||Shots on Target||3|
|3||Shots off Target||5|