And the Arsenal Man of the Match against Porto goes to Cesc Fabregas, oh no, wait …

I wasn’t at all feeling unprofessional or even in the slightest guilty when I woke up for work this morning with a small hangover and smelling of the chicken wings I bargained off the man at PFC on the way home. It’s not every night you win 5-0 in the knock-out stage of the Champions League.
Arsenal’s best performer on the night was Cesc Fabregas, for his ingenious efforts to stay out of the tie and allow the rest of the Arsenal pups to show they can go it alone. Missing Fabregas had been the talk of the day leading up to the Porto tie.
How would we cope? Could Nasri fill his shoes? Very few Arsenal fans doubted Nasri could, and on the night he was comfortable seeing plenty of the ball and chipped in with the customary Fabregas goal – sublime I might add.
But for Arsenal it’s never about retorting to those outside of the training ground. By winning so exuberantly they proved to themselves that Fabregas is highly important, but not essential. This can only give them added confidence if the skipper isn’t available, although it’s a cert Wenger would have established this anyway. Still, turning the Frenchman’s words into a reality makes the reading better and the self-belief more resounding.
One man with all the self-assurance – poise and coolness to match – was Nicklas Bendtner. A hat-trick in the Emirates lit the night up, and if there were any fans unwilling to join in the Bendtner songs on Saturday, they were hitting all the notes last night, as a chorus of ‘Super Nick’ reached as far as Seven Sisters when the Dane slotted home his third from the penalty spot.
The football fan and commentator is a pure pre-judgemental breed of human being. Nobody can deny having jumped to conclusions on a player only to be slapped straight back in the face by such displays as Bendtner’s last night. I know I have and I’m sure to make audacious claims that end unfounded again, because football is like alcohol, you never learn with it!
What did we learn about Bendtner last night? What are his qualities? The Dane comes to meet and take the ball from midfielders. Sometimes he unsuccessfully attempts to turn and spin his marker and this is source for many of the scoffs heard from within the crowd. When Nicky puts his foot on the ball though, Arshavin, Nasri, Rosicky and the rest, are able to get beyond him. They want to go beyond him. They want to score goals!
If anybody saw Sunderland’s first goal last night, every pass went forward because there was always a body ahead of the ball. Arsenal do this better than anybody and when a target man like Bendtner plays this is more likely to happen. I was in love with Arshavin and Emmanuel Eboue’s runs that either led to or ended the first and fourth goals last night.
From my fourth row seat I could hear the swoosh as Eboue set off to support Haircut, his little Russian team-mate. Legs pumping and curling with lactic acid, chest and chin leaning slightly back, arms grabbing at the thin air in front of him, along came the Ivorian cavalry.
The athleticism of Eboue was so disparate from the blundering fatso being me who screamed, “SIT DOWN, OH FOR GOODNESS SAKE SIT DOWN!” It was more of a struggle for him to splutter those words than it was for Emmanuel to score his goal. It was impressive, and there was no time to sit, but only stand for Arsenal in sheer admiration.
The energy in the side to bound forward when Porto were already hung, drawn and quartered is also a statement of intent, that if Arsenal can, they will leave you with your shorts not only down, but cordless too.
At this yawning stage of the season it is compelling to see Arsenal appear so fresh. Considering the injuries to the team, surprisingly, Arsenal are managing to look in tip-top shape, and unlike Porto who clearly forgot who they were up against, the fans had not forgotten Arsenal’s  wounded, especially Aaron Ramsey.
Chapter three of Fear and Loathing on the Ramsey Trail was completed last night and there is every sense that ‘do it for Rambo’ is not just a fleeting media phase. Gael Clichy has been an inspiration since the horrors of Stoke, working equally hard to lay the demons of two years ago to rest. He is doing it with all the ferociousness required, looking like a real team leader who understand fully the situation Arsenal find themselves in.
Everybody was a performer last night but Clichy must get recognition for turning into a senior player since the Ramsey leg-break. Either that, or a mysterious tanker of toxic waste was ‘accidently’ spilt at the Arsenal training ground, and like some super-hero movie, Clichy’s ‘accidental’ encounter with it has left him playing like some unbridled mutant – Eboue too.
Whatever the tonic, Arsenal are playing without the reigns at the moment. They not only do they find themselves in healthy positions both domestically and now in Europe, but they have also helped the fans financially. A hat-trick from Bendtner and a 5-0 win in the Champions League: the perfect present for this coming Mothering Sunday. What mum wasn’t wishing for that?

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