By Karl M. Tinsley

Better late than never…

MY 3 STARS

http://i0.wp.com/d.yimg.com/i/ng/sp/empics/20100309/21/146384768-09032010215702.jpg?resize=275%2C2021. SAMIR NASRI: Breakthrough match for the French midfielder whose form this season had been out of sorts prior to the Burnley match.

Nice to see him continue his positive play from the weekend against F.C. Porto. His long through ball early in the match to Arshavin opened up the Porto defense like a can of sardines and gave Andriy the opportunity to create an enormous greasy rebound for Bendtner to toe-poke home.

Defensively, he did his job at the far post by standing tall on our goal line and body blocking the goal bound attempt by the Porto player…HUGE!.Nasri’s squared ball across the 18 yard box that picked out the wide open Arshavin was special…gifting the Russian with a sitter on the wide open Porto net that unfortunately went begging.

In the second half his goal (The Arsenal’s 3rd) was truly a WONDER-GOAL that killed the match off for good. Beating 3 defenders with his slick dribble inside their 18 yard box (in an area the size of a phone booth) and then crushing his shot cross just inside the far post from an extreme angle was just…ILL!!

Glad to have Samir back and flashing the skills that he had on display all last season…we’ll need more of the same from him down the stretch.

2. ANDRIY ARSHAVIN: Just an awesome and complete match from the “Russian Schemer” who everytime he touched the ball was a clear and present danger to the F.C. Porto defense. His darting run to get on the end of Nasri’s deliciously weighted through ball exposed the soft centre of the Porto defense and created the rebound and easy finish for Bendtner to put us up 1-Nil early.

The second goal was all about Andriy…as his slick two footed dribble broke down the F.C. Porto RB and CB and carved open the the heart of their back line, his pass across the 6 yard box was inch perfect and left Bendtner the easiest of tap-ins.

Andriy needed to bear down on that seeing eye squared ball from Nasri that he managed to sky over the gaping wide open Porto net. Defensively he provided good ball pressure and was also instrumental in clogging up the passing lanes to hamper and slowdown any counter-attacks that Porto tried to launch.

In the second half he showed lovely technique when he used his chest to control that flicked on ball and then trap volley a thunderbolt on the F.C. Porto net that Helton was lucky to get in front of and spill.

Finally, he sparked a scintillating counter-attack off a Porto corner kick, with his pacy run down the middle of the pitch which he finished off with a gorgeous inch perfect pass that hit Eboue in stride and coolly dispatched into the Porto net…DAGGER!!

3. NICKLAS BENDTNER: Showed some good hustle to follow-up Arshavin’s run and clean up that greasy rebound created by Arshavin’s pace and pressure on the Porto ‘keeper. On the second goal, Nicky did a good job of checking his run in order to stay onside and allow himself the easiest of tap-ins.

Liked his powered header late in the match that was just wide of the near post. Finally, had nice placement on his P.K. for his third goal that completed F.C. Porto’s humiliation.

HONOURABLE MENTION:

EMMANUEL EBOUE: “Da Screwface” continues to represent and do himself and club proud. He only saw 35 minutes of action in the second half but he made the most of his time on the pitch.

Showed off his pace and stamina with a lung-busting run to follow Arshavin’s counter-attack (off the Porto corner kick) and get himself into the channel to give Arshavin options and ultimately pick Eboue out with a perfectly weighted ball that allowed Eboue to not break stride.Loved the shake and bake he served Helton that left him flailing at thin air, followed with a calm left-footed finish slotted into the back of the Porto net…TURN OUT THE LIGHTS!!

In the dying embers of the match, Eboue delivered another positive attacking run into the FC Porto 18 yard box that was only thwarted by a foul that drew a P.K. that gifted Bendtner his hat-trick.

BACARY SAGNA: Excellent hustle from “Blondie Dread” up and down the right flank all match. He had some better crosses this match and of course his defense was top notch. Showed good pace in getting back to harry the Porto attackers on the rare occasion he was caught up the pitch.

Good all round match for Bacary. If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a million times…we have to have Sagna and Eboue on the pitch at the same time when we go up against the heavy weights in the EPL and C.L. Together these two are MONEY!!

LEMON(S):

NOBODY: It was one of those rare matches where I felt the entire squad turned in a complete performance. There was no weak link, only a very few and isolated sloppy touches or tackles…but nothing of enough significance to single anybody out for a Lemon.

FINAL THOUGHTS

One of the most complete performances I’ve seen from a Gunner squad in ages. Prior to the match I felt that Arshavin and Nasri would be key to our success in light of the absence of Cesc. They didn’t disappoint…both came up very large and the end result was us cruising past F.C. Porto and into the Round of 8. Eboue has really built a solid case for himself to be included into the Starting XI on a go forward basis.

While it was good to see Bendtner get some goals…a 10 foot toe-poke into an empty net, a 4 foot tap-in and a 91st minute P.K. goal (in a match we were already leading 4-Nil) doesn’t particularly impress me or back me off my opinion that he is not a starting striker of The Arsenal quality. Obviously he is the best we currently have at this stage of the proceedings so its fingers crossed he can avoid the type of shitting of the bed that we witnessed against Burnley on the weekend.

Well its mission accomplished…over-turning that tie without the benefit of having our Captain. We have had a bad history of letting down after big CL victories…BUT…I believe this season is different. The lads have gotten their swagger and momentum back at the best time possible…now it is off to Hull City to face their thuggery, cope with their turnip patch (of a pitch) and bring back the 3 pts to keep the pressure on Man Utd and Chelsea.

As always I remain…

GUNS IN GUNS OUT

Karlos

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