Selasa, 30 Desember 2008

Arsenal 1-0 Portsmouth

Arsene Wenger claims his Arsenal side are just "one or two per cent" away from dominating the Barclays Premier League.

Not on this performance they are not.

Former captain William Gallas might have kept their title challenge just about breathing with a late headed winner but you did not have to be able to understand Pascal's Triangle to realise that Wenger has got his maths horribly wrong.

You just had to watch his Arsenal side toiling aimlessly for great swathes of a match against a Portsmouth team which is going through its own crisis of confidence under Tony Adams.

Arsenal are miles away from Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea and if Wenger does not do some serious business in the January transfer window they will stay that way.

As it is the result leaves Arsenal 10 points adrift of league leaders Liverpool and still hoping.

But let's not dwell overly on Arsenal because this was the day Tony Adams returned to Arsenal for the first time as a fully-fledged manager and at last he got the sort of battling performance from his Portsmouth side that he always gave during 20 years in an Arsenal shirt in which he lifted 10 major trophies.

Unsurprisingly, it came after the Arsenal fans had paid their due respects to one of their own, the reception Adams received affectionate bordering on reverence.

He bowed appreciatively to accept it. Adams has never been anything but brave. He had dropped Jermain Defoe to the bench after three straight defeats had culminated in a 4-1 home defeat against West Ham. It was a challenge to his side to deliver.

He received a dogged response. Sol Campbell and Sylvain Distin defended superbly and with a bit more luck Pompey would have taken back a point at least to the south coast.

Adams, however, will now be even more desperate to use a chunk of the £20million the club are set to receive for Lassana Diarra in the January transfer window. This was their fourth straight defeat and that is relegation territory. And quite why he waited until the 88th minute to bring on Defoe is a mystery.

The Gunners dominated possession and Adams continually was out on the touchline urging his side not to defend so deep.

But, without the injured Cesc Fabregas, in midfield Arsenal were light on invention, resorting to speculative long shots.

It was a dreadful, stale-as-Christmas-turkey first half, full of cagey football and two teams desperate for a confidence-boosting result.

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