Bendtner brace sinks the Pompey battleship... Match report.

A significant naval port for centuries, Portsmouth is home to the world’s oldest dry dock still in use and home to many famous ships, including Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory.  It is the major dockyard and base for the Royal Navy and the Royal Marine Commandos have their Headquarters there. Despite this strong Nautical heritage, it was an invasion by a tall Dane that holed the Pompey battleship beneath the water line.
The three nil score line suggests that Arsenal cruised to an easy victory at a sunny Fratton Park, and certainly upon the performance in the first half, the Gunners could have gone in at half time with the score line four-two instead of the two nil margin. The line-up was unfamiliar but the beautiful game was in evidence as the Gunners demonstrated their technical skills in the sunshine.
The first half saw good probing runs from Theo Walcott and Carlos Vela. Arshavin was instrumental in most of the best movements, and he made a succession of wonderful passes to open up the Pompey defence. Portsmouth tried to react but they squandered the efforts that were presented to them in front of the Arsenal goal. With first Peter Crouch putting his right foot effort wide of Fabianski’s far post and then a skied shot from Belhadj.
Portsmouth vs Arsenal
The first Arsenal goal came from a corner which was initially blocked by a pompey defender. Arshavin floated a wonderful ball to the far close which was met with a powerfully downwards directed header by Nic Bendtner. David James got both hands to the ball as he dived to his right, but someone the ball trickled over the line. The goal had followed the Gunners being denied a clear penalty as Carlos Vela was pulled to the ground by a Portsmouth defender.
Portsmouth 0 Arsenal 1 (Bendtner 13’)
The second goal was a penalty which followed a surging run by Arshavin, who tumbled down under the challenge of Sean Davis. Davis’s slide tackle was not well enough timed to prevent referee Lee Mason giving the penalty. Bendtner firm strike evaded David James outstretched left hand.
Portsmouth 0 Arsenal 2 (Bendtner 41’)
The second half saw two key substitutions by Pompey. Gunners Legend Kanu and attacking Utaka  replacing Hreidarsson and Jermaine Pennant galvanised the Portsmouth attack. Arsenal could have seen their lead reduced by several good chances. The attacks were simple basis football, which made the defensive setup appear more fragile than it really was. The first a long ball from Campbell saw Crouch out jump Song and the knock down was collected by Hughes who slid the ball square to Utaka who should have scored from eight yards out, but his shot was dragged wide of Fabianski’s right hand post.
The Pompey manager Paul Hart employed a three pronged attack which put Arsenal under constant pressure in the next fifteen minutes. Arsenal tried to recompose themselves through nice passing movements in midfield mainly lead by Denilson, who linked well with Randall. Still with misses by Crouch and a twenty five yard effort from Kanu which saw Fabianski parry for a corner at full stretch as he dived to his right, Arsenal kept their lead. Eboue had a lovely run across the face of the Pompey defence followed by a low shot saved easily by David James.
Arsenal should again have been pegged back when Song lost possession high in midfield and the ball was chipped by Mullins into Utaka who was one on one with Fabianski. The polish keeper refused to commit himself until quite late and the resulting inability to by pass the diving keeper saw Sagna dispossess the attacker. Arsenal kept their discipline and their shape and counterattacked through Arshavin. The plucky Russian who was being booed repeatedly following the penalty incident in the first half, had a shot blocked, but Vela picked up the rebound and directed his left foot shot low into the only angle that could beat the diving form of David James.
Portsmouth 0 Arsenal 3. (Vela 55’)
Shortly afterwards Vela could have scored again but for a marvellous save from David James, as Vela’s first time shot was destined for the top right hand corner of the net. Portsmouth’s fortunes were dashed still further as Pamarot got dismissed for his clumsy challenge on Arshavin, After a wonderful exchange of passes between Arshavin, Vela, Bischoff and Ramsey who curled a lovely ball back to the run of the Gunners striker. It was a clear goal scoring chance, with Pamarot being the last defender. Ramsey’s low shot from the resulting free kick was easily saved by James. Bendtner was replaced by Fran Merida.
The rest of the game with Porstmouth’s ten men still saw Pompey make the odd chance to try and embarrass Arsenal. One long ball into Crouch saw the tall striker turn Song and fire a shot just over Fabianski’s bar. Our Polish keeper kept an unlikely clean sheet with a series of saves from several efforts from Pompey, the most spectacular being a point blank reaction save from Distin whose volleyed effort from three yards seemed destined for the back of the net. Arsenal never really looked under extreme pressure, but questions still have to be asked of our defensive weaknesses. The win secured fourth place and the retention of Champions League football at the Emirates next season.
Full time: Portsmouth 0 Arsenal 3
Arsenal now move on to the prospect of Manchester United on Tuesday night, with having had the opportunity to rest our key senior players. The young Guns who came to replace the likes of Fabregas and Adebayor, gave a very good account of themselves against a full strength Pompey side. We have gone 20 Premier League games unbeaten with two goals from Bendtner and now it is game on for third place between ourselves and Chelsea. I am elated by the victory, but the defensive display was shaky, but given the unfamiliar formation, I will take this result anytime of the week.
Portsmouth: James, Pamarot, Campbell, Distin, Hreidarsson (Kanu 46’), Pennant (Utaka 46’), Davis, Hughes, Mullins, Belhadj, Crouch.
Subs: Begovic, Primus, Nugent, Basinas, Cranie.
Sent Off: Pamarot (78’).
Arsenal: Fabianski, Sagna, Song Billong, Djourou, Eboue, Walcott (Bischoff 64’), Denilson, Ramsey (Randall 82’), Arshavin, Bendtner ( Merida 77’), Vela.
Subs: Mannone, Coquelin, Emmanuel-Thomas, Frimpong.
Ref: Lee Mason

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