Oh Prophet Arshavin…Arsenal 5 – 0 Poorto!
Don’t worry I did not make any mistakes in the title, I typed this immediately after the final whistle so you can bet I’ve got emotions running real deep. It’s coming rather late though due to educational commitments. Now picture this, a Man United team without Rooney, Giggs and Ferdinand, or Chelsea team without Lamps, JT shag, and Drogba, don’t even imagine those dirty scousers without Gerrard and Torres! Now put these teams against an in-form Porto side and you know exactly what to expect. Last night, we were missing 3 players who are the benchmark of their positions: Willie in defence, RVP up front, Cesc speaks for himself. Yet we were able to “source” a team of 11 talented players who swept aside Porto n made their absence extremely negligible. So what’s this talk of lack of strength in squad depth?
You may wonder why the topic but after the Burnley win, people were all over Nikky B and you really cannot blame them. The dude just missed 5 gloriously-inexcusable chances in front of goal. Arsene in his usual manner defended and attributed it to a bad day at work, pundits had a lot of comments, negative and positive but one man’s comment stood out: Andrei Arshavin. When quized on what happened to Nikky B, the little russian smiled and said “Unfortunately, or fortunately, he did not score today. Why fortunately? I feel he was sparing his goals for Porto!” Classic stuff eh? Roll on three days later Nikky B’s scored his 1st senior hat-trick for Arsenal in a round of 16 fixture in the Champions League.
Onto the match, there were no surprises in the starting XI except the sight of Theo on the bench. I felt he deserved a run of games after his last performance, but as usual, Arsene knows best! We had scored an away goal and we would have gone through with a 1-0 win, but you trust ARSENAL, we NEVER play such football! We attacked and set the pace from the first minute; Andrei was a demon, he was alive, alert and amazing, tearing into the defence at will and even creating one for Nikky. The 1st of Nikky’s goals came off a superb through pass from Nasri who had his probably his biggest performance after the United game two years ago. It fell to Andrei who didn’t get enough of d ball but still managed to set up Nikky to slide into an empty net. Best start possible for us and Porto knew they had to score to progress. The started to show signs of attacking intent but the second arrived shortly. Andrei (again!) left 3 Porto defenders for dead before driving a low cross into the box for Nikky to tap into an empty net once again. We were playing some unbelievable soccer but even though they had a few moments of theirs, they would have been rejoicing when the referee blew for halftime.
The second half started with Porto showing some renewed vigour. We had not gotten into our rhythm yet and Porto were all over the place. They even came close to scoring when Samir cleared off the line from a corner. The Frenchman who was more than made sure we didn’t miss Cesc then weaved his magic. He got the ball on the right, went at 3 Porto players in the box and with a combination of great body swerve and amazing close control, he found himself free with the goalie. He dispatched the ball with the gusto and class that made everyone stand up for an applause. Definitely the goal of the round before Robben’s magical. Nasri was almost perfect tonight, pushing forward when we had the ball and harassing and tackling when we didn’t. His passes were pinpoint and he had a few cracks at goal too. He pulled his hamstring and was substituted, leaving with a standing ovation from everyone. Our fourth came off a counter attack led by tormentor-in-chief Andrei who slid the ball to Eboue (on for Rosicky), the Ivorian rounded the keeper before also playing into empty net. He’s fast becoming a cult hero these days Eboue. It was Eboue who was fouled in the box for Nikky to score his third from the spot from what was probably the last kick of the match.
So a 5 – nil win we got when we needed one to go through, all the players stepped up their performance and came to the party. We played the same Porto team Chelski struggled against earlier in the competition and according to Arsene, we beat them in style. Last night we made a statement to the whole of Europe, and you can bet no one saw it coming not even most gooners. I expected it though (yh i did) even though they beat my expectation of a 4-1 win. It’s really looking rosy for us these days with the results we’ve had, and even Arsene was bullish about our chances and who we were going to meet in the next round. I’ll summarize his comments in 3 words though, LET THEM COME!
Escobar will provide the ratings, he loves that so much. So you just be good and let’s savour the good moments as true gooners.
From wherever you are reading, have fun.
9jabred says so!
Almunia-7:Had a relatively easy evening and dealt with everything Porto could muster.
Sagna-7:Composed at the back standing tall to all of Varela’s marauding runs and competent going forward to help the attack.
Vermaelen-7.5:Marshaled Hulk and Falcao throughout the game and was a commanding presence at the back.
Campbell-6.5:Somewhat rusty and made some sloppy passes but grew into the game and took control.
Clichy-7:Steady defending altho caught out cold by Hulk just once but a good performance overall.
Song-6.5:A few mis-hit passes and uncharacteristic loss of possession at times but protected his defence all night.
Nasri-9.5:Star man..ran the show all night,demanded the ball at all times,got forward whenever possible and dictated play.Amazing slalom run that led to a goal that has been ear-marked already for goal of the season.
Diaby-7:Along with song held the midfield in place and got forward wen necessary,hardly gave away possession and won a lot of 50-50 tackles.
Rosicky-6:One touch too many and tried to do too much…hooked off after the break.
Nikky B-9:If there’s a to silence your critics after a poor game,is to deliver a solid performance.Scoring a hat-trick buries them.
Andrei-8.5:From Russia with Gloves.the quick footed nibmle rusiian displayed a class that bellies this century and planet.And to think Cesc was missing.
Eboue-7.5:The Ivorian seems to be in the form of his life.Energetic performance and great run to catch up with Arshavin and showed a strikers composure to round the keeper and score.
Walcott-6:Had one shot saved and did little else after coming on.
Denilson-6:Came in and slotted into midfield with ease.