By Karl M. Tinsley
MY 3 STARS
#1. WILLIAM GALLAS: aka Willy “G” came up big late in the match as he is known to do. Clutch, clutch goal from the central defender. I felt him losing the “C” would take alot of pressure off his shoulders and let him just focus on his game more, while still being a clubhouse leader. His game has gotten progressively better since relinquishing the “C” and today he is rewarded with Man of the Match honours.
His defence was stellar…with only being beaten by the early Crouch header off the post to blight an otherwise spotless day at work. He even served up some nice surging runs down the middle of the pitch in the second half to spur on the attack. Tell ’em Willy Boy Is Back!!
#2. MIKAEL SILVESTRE: WOW…sometimes even a blind squirrel finds a chestnut. “Peanut-Head” took a long time to deliver a real top shelf performance but today was just that. He and Gallas did a great job neutralizing aerial target man Crouch, despite giving up about 9-10 inches to the big man. Great positioning all match from Silvestre, nice clean touches, good passing and ball control all match. I felt he worked really well with Clichy today and was alert in cleaning up any scraps in our 18 yard box. Cat’s Meow to Silvestre!!
#3. SAMIR NASRI: It was certainly not a complete performance from the young Frenchman (his crosses during the run of play were way to deliberate and easily disposed of by the Pompey defence) BUT he was everywhere on the pitch today, calling for the ball and getting his dribble on to great effect. Loved the hustle, the skill on the ball and his intelligence at constantly getting into open positions on the pitch to give his teammates passing options. Would have loved to see him sneak that short side shot in late in the match as a nice reward for his skillful and diligent play. When he plays this up tempo game Nasri is an irresistable force that creates time and space for all his teammates. Tres Bien Samir!!
GAEL CLICHY: Granted he didn’t have alot of work to do on our left flank today but he was rock steady as usual and in the second half he pushed the ball nicely and battled hard to pin the ball deep late in the second half. What i like most about his game today is that he showed a willingness to punt the ball deep when in doubt or under pressure. I hope he has finally learned his lesson with trying to be too cute when under duress deep in our end…punting it deep or into touch is most acceptable. Welcome Back…It’s Like You Never Were Gone!!
NIKLAS BENDTNER: Gaaaaaaaaasssssp!. Yes, gotta give the big dorky Dane some love after a good, blue collar match. His best match in ages. He showed much much better first touch, control over the ball and his passing looked dialed in as well today. He ran hard, created chances for his team-mates on a day the strikers received precious little service from our midfield. Well Done Pink Boots…bottle it and use it again and again!!
EMMANUEL EBOUE: He was as flat as I can ever recall seeing him. Didn’t like his body language at all today. I didn’t see that normal hustle and fighting spirit. His passing was lackadasical again and he seemed a little disinterested at times. Probably felt more than a little tight starting in front of the home fans today…but i expect a professional footballer fighting for starting XI football to be able to cope with these things better. Nice to see the home crowd give him a warm applause when he left. C’mon Eboue…Give Us A Smile!!.
DIABY/ADEBAYOR (BUTTA’-LEGS): Toss up between the two. Both looked stuck in first gear all night. Butta’-legs didn’t seem sharp and focused tonight and as a result he didn’t exploit some good chances to score. Tossed in his usual 4-5 offsides and let himself get controlled physically by Campbell and Distin. Diaby was back to the head down over-indulgent dribbling that bogs down our attacks or that leaves guys wide open and ignored. Wake Up And Live!!
This was a fairly weak and uninspired performance today by the Gunners. For a team with its season on the line i would have expected more hustle, spirit and fight out of the squad. What annoys me the most about the squad is that they move just way to slow with our attacks…seems they have completely forgotten how to push the ball and counter-teams qucikly. They insist on playing way to many check-back balls and stroking it aimlessly from side to side, while the opposition roars back to take up their positions. Reality is we are not: scoring alot of goals, winning alot of games or playing “beautiful football” these days. Strange Days Indeed…Most Peculiar Mamma!!.
Well the ugly and bitter football year that was The Arsenal football is over for 2008…a strange and hearbreaking year if the club ever had one. At least we can look forward in the New Year to a splendid battle with Aston Villa for Top 4 privileges and the matches against AS Roma in late February and early March. As always there remains much to play for and silverware to capture.
See you in the New Year,
GUNS IN GUNS OUT