Aaron Ramsey, Samir Nasri and Alex Song helped put thoughts on signing a striker on the back burner by scoring in the 4-1 defeat to Portsmouth.
Behind the scenes, the mantra has been all about continuously improving. Two 4-1 defeats to Portsmouth, home and away and twice the difference had been made by Arsenal’s ever growing in stature and confidence, midfielders applying themselves tactically. The second half of the season is, as Sir Alex Ferguson puts it when experience counts more exponentially and Arsène Wenger will be delighted as to how his young midfielders have been coming along. Particularly as they have tipped the balance a little on whether the club is actually in need of signing another forward when all but a few weeks ago that looked a certainty.
“We have players who move the ball well and everybody gets in dangerous positions,” commented Wenger after the game. “And that’s why, with the confidence high, everyone can score goals. But we are still in the market.”
The slight apprehension has been caused due to the number of goals put in by the side since their loss to Chelsea where they have only dropped two points. At Burnley, the side missed the influence of Cesc Fabregas as he departed with an injury and then witnessed his importance in his return by helping to dismantle Aston Villa. But overall their approach play has been of a high quality but it is when the going gets tough, the feeling is the side may need a bit more variety and unpredictability to help cut open opponents. Two dynamic moments assisted in defeating Liverpool while with all the neat interplay at Hull and Aston Villa, it were free-kicks which were the turning points of both games. And despite Arsenal profiting from another to put them in front at Portsmouth, there was never any doubt of the result.
The home side backed off in many instances and allowed Arsenal time to play and crucially get behind and beyond the defence. After Eduardo had put them in front with a cruelly deflected free-kick, Arsenal’s natural game began to flow. Samir Nasri finished off a good move by burying a shot into the bottom corner as Ramsey and Eduardo shuffled the ball expertly away from their markers. Ramsey added a comprehensive third before Nadir Belhadj had pulled one back for Portsmouth but Song had the last word by powerfully heading a cross by Nasri. The Cameroon ace once again had a fantastic game and the confidence he exudes in possession has become such a key fixture in the side.
The support Arsenal’s midfielders provided to Arshavin was the key complementer to their passing game and possibly what had eluded them in a period of acclimatisation after Robin van Persie’s injury. A presence is still needed as it can be argued the Gunners will become over reliant on movement and moments of dynamism to open up teams but if the midfielders can continuing pitching in and creating goals, it would put the team in a good position come Nicklas Bendtner’s return from injury.
Portsmouth 1-4 Arsenal: Eduardo 27, Nasri 42, Ramsey 69, Belhadj 74, Song 81.
Portsmouth: Begovic, Finnan, Kaboul, Ben-Haim, Hreidarsson,
Yebda, Mokoena, Hughes, Belhadj, Boateng, Piquionne. Subs: Ashdown, Diop, Brown, Utaka, Vanden Borre, Kanu, Wilson.
Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Gallas, Vermaelen, Traore, Ramsey, Song Billong, Diaby, Nasri (Eastmond), Eduardo (Rosicky), Arshavin (Vela). Subs not used: Fabianski, Silvestre, Wilshere, Merida.
Referee: Alan Wiley (Staffordshire)
|0||1st Half Goals||2|
|4||Shots on Target||6|
|5||Shots off Target||5|