13 April 2006

Portsmouth 1-1 Arsenal

A disappointing draw down south. Too many missed chances, and just one missed defensive opportunity. Adebayor missed a couple of sitters; it happens sometimes, but twice in a game is not what you want to see. But I suspect that's the kind of player he'll turn out to be -- whatever the opposite of "clinical" is.

It was a bit of an odd lineup, with Abou Diaby and Alexandre Song partnering in midfield. Much has been made of the choice, as both are inexperienced, particularly Song. He's only played 16 minutes of Premiership soccer until yesterday. As Arseblog pointed out, Sebastian Larsson would have been the more experienced choice. I suppose though that we did have the chances we needed to take three points, and our problems came more from misses from Adebayor (and Ljungberg) than from Song.

Arsenal are in the thick of it and every match is vital at this stage. Disappointing as it is, that point gained yesterday may prove the difference in the battle with Spurs for fourth. The runout will be frantic, with 11 matches from 1 April thru the final League match on 7 May. With that many matches, players will become injured or just worn out, and Wenger will draw deeply from his squad. The Alex Songs and Sebastian Larssons of the team must step up and perform alongside the Freddie Ljungbergs and Robert Pireses, or both the Prem and the Champions League will disappoint us. PhysioRoom tells us that both Cole and Clichy are potentially near returning, and that would be good news indeed.

And speaking of injury news: just a quick note to mention that Claudio Reyna returned to action on the weekend. While I'm happy for Man City, I'm ecstatic for the US Men, as team captain Reyna supplies organization and stability to the team. Without him, the center of the pitch is much less effective for the Nats. Let's hope he stays healthy and uses these last few weeks in the League to regain his match fitness.

Well, on to the weekend. Arsenal are home to West Brom. Facing a relegation candidate, with Villareal looming large on Wednesday, we can expect Wenger to reach for his bench players again. Here's hoping that he comes up with a winning hand for Saturday. COME ON YOU GUNNERS!

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