Portsmouth 1 – 1 Arsenal
0 – 1 Henry (36)
1 – 1 LuaLua (66)
Two points dropped in the race for fourth although with the upcoming matches this weekend those points may not be as expensive as they currently seem. This results leaves us trailing the Tiny Tots by four points without the luxury of a game in hand, although by Monday that small benefit will be back in play. At this time of the season it is perhaps more important to have the points rather than games in hand, especially as the Champions League Semi Finals beckon and the fixtures start to come thick and fast.
A game that was there for the taking was ultimately taken away by the same failing that has beset Wengers Arsenal teams for the last four or five seasons, namely a poorly defended freekick. Maybe that is harsh as D’Alessandro’s delivery was perfect, plenty of pace on the ball and into the middle of the penalty area which meant it was crying out for someone to attack the cross as opposed to the defence which seemed to be a tad asleep. Having taken the lead through Henry’s drive from the edge of the area, that he had created through winning the ball back midway in the Portsmouth half, Arsenal proceeded to squander half a dozen chances to kill the game off. The difference between the European form and domestic results could not be more stark; solid defence and some clinical finishing seem to be forgotten when it comes to the domestic fixtures.
Chief culprit tonight was Adebayour, who missed two clear opportunities, which is starting to be of concern when the team is on its’ travels. Having done the same at Old Trafford, he needs to be more clinical in front of goal. You may think that is harsh given he is only in his third month at the club but this needs to be driven home to him from the start otherwise the comment that his style of play is similar to that of Kanu may yet see him follow the same path downwards and ultimately out of the club. I do not hold him solely responsible for the result tonight as it was a team effort to miss the chances that we did and also to fail to keep a clean sheet yet again on our travels. On another day, Ljungberg would not have picked up a booking for dissent as Taylors’ foul on him in the area would have earned the penalty it deserved.
Campbell’s return was OK – ring rusty as one might expect. He struggled at times against LuaLua but then the more athletic forwards have always given him some problems whereas the lump Benjani was no problem to him, aside from the stray elbow that is. I would expect him to start on Saturday against WBA although it would need a return to the form that is expected of him to retain his place against Villarreal. The head wound he received tonight ought not to be so serious as to rule him out of contention but with Sol’s recent history, one never knows.
Which leaves the Easter Weekend as possibly the one that sorts the wheat from the chaff. Tottenham travel to Everton on Saturday, who have won five and drawn one of their last six at home whilst the visitors have won one and lost four of their last six on the road. A home win seems to be the form result in this encounter. They then face the Premierships’ in-form team, Manchester United on Monday and whilst Tottenham have done well at home this season, it is difficult to see them getting anything from that one either. Overall, I suspect that they are realistically hoping to beat Everton which would leave them four points clear when they visit THOF on Saturday week. From Arsenal’s point of view, three points against West Brom is a must and hope that Tottenham take only one point from their two games. Should that happen then the key result will be to beat them when the two sides meet. This would leave Arsenal clear by one point and have one game in hand.
Todays Tunes are four cover versions, all of Love Will Tear Us Apart. The first is by Simple Minds, which I have to say took me by surprise when I heard it. Firstly it isn’t bad. Second, it’s quite good actually and lastly it is probably the least Simple Minds sounding track I have heard, being a dance version of the track. For those who remember Jim Kerr as a Division Two Bono Wannabe in the 1980’s, this is a genuine step up. In contrast to that, Jose Gonzalez is a current media favourite whose deadpan delivery over an acoustic guitar works well, a pleasant surprise to discover. Third up is a Spanish band, singing this in English. I didn’t know what to expect but it wasn’t to hear a Mandolin over guitars in a Leveller-esque way. Despite that unkind description it’s a half decent stab at the ball and nowhere near as bizarre as the versions by Human Drama and In The Nursery. I couldn’t bring myself to listen to their Avant Garde claptrap efforts beyond the first rendition of the chorus.
The last cover is by Elvis impersonator, The King, which is just a great pub rock piss-take to lighten the mood. Which you think sounds a bit of an odd mix. But nowhere near as bad as Moby’s exceptionally crap version of the song.