Before i jump into the blog, did anyone notice Harry Redknapp at the Emirates? The closest Spurs will ever come to the champions league is by watching Arsenal play.
Well now that I’ve gotten that out-of-the-way, onto more pressing and important issues, like our victory today against a sorry Porto side. Arsenal fans saw what life could be like without their influential captain Cesc Fabregas, who is nursing a hamstring injury. Good news on that front, it’s not as bad as expected and he could be available for selection this weekend, away at Hull. With Fabregas out, many pundits questioned who would be the creative force in the team and Nasri answered that call with a sensational performance tonight. We showed the whole league and europe, we are not a One man team!
The victory marked the first time in 32 years Arsenal have been able to overturn a deficit heading into a second leg. The last time we did it was in 1978 when we beat Hedjuk Split 1-0 in the second leg to progress to the next round.
The first half saw Danish international, Nicklas Bendtner net 2 goals after he had been profligate against Burnley over the weekend. Every striker I’m sure has been through it one time or another in their career, just a bad day at the office so to speak. It was imperative that he start this game, dropping him to the bench would have shattered his confidence. Our first half performance on a whole was a decent showing, Porto tried to sit back and catch us on the counter but after the first goal, they were left chasing the game and that allowed us to have more opportunities on goal.
The second half performance threatened to stick to the status quo until a sheer piece of individual brilliance from Samir Nasri (more on him later) essentially slammed the door shut on any Porto comeback. A lot was riding on him today I’m sure as he turned provider and scorer. He did pick up an injury so we’ll have to wait and see how he progresses during the week. Eboue came on for Rosicky to shore up the right flank and keep our lead intact. Fair play to him getting on the score sheet and for winning the penalty, that allowed Bendtner to score his first hat-trick in the champions league and of his career.
What a way to silence your critics by scoring a hat-trick after missing many sitters at home against Burnley. Did well to hold up the ball and link play. He definitely provides us with a physical presence upfront and gives us another dimension going forward. Scoring should lift his confidence heading into the game at the KC stadium this weekend. Remember how well he did at the Britannia with that all important equalizer. Consistency is the key now for the Dane.
My man of the match, and before i go waxing lyrical about the Frenchman, know that it is well deserved. His first season was a success and everyone expected big things for him this year. But an injury to his fibula in preseason left him out for a lengthy period and he is now beginning to find his form. When Fabregas limped off on Saturday, Nasri was thrust into the role of creative midfielder and I felt he acquitted himself well, even if it was in a cameo appearance. Today however, he would be required to orchestrate the show and boy did he conduct proceedings with a touch of class. His defence splitting pass to Arshavin was what set up Bendtner’s first goal. He went from provider to scorer with a superb individual effort dribbling past 3 Porto defenders before firing his shot off the far post. He has certainly justified the £12million signing fee and showed he can step in for Cesc when needed.
Overall we did enough to qualify but still leave ourselves a little exposed at the back when we attack. It should be a worrying concern for Wenger and i am sure he is working to fix them. I’m off to enjoy this win with some tasty beverages as i look forward to the game away at Hull.
‘Till then Come On You Gunners!!!