WHO BACKED BENDTNER TO SCORE A HAT-TRICK? NASRI AND ARSHAVIN FILL THE VOID
Arsenal brushed of the absence of Cesc Fabregas to blow Porto away with a 5-0 thumping at the Emirates and book their place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. Five minutes into the game i rang my mate who loves to gamble, he told me he wanted to stick a £10 on Bendtner to score first. I said forget that, back him to grab a hat-trick. He laughed but i meant it. I fancied big Nik to score three last night, he was out to prove a point after his Burnley horror-show and Porto were there for the taking.
Theo Walcott was surprisingly left on the bench after his MOM performance at the weekend, but Arsene Wenger later confirmed he had a slight groin problem so wasn’t risked from the start. Apart from that the line-up was as expected.
After a bright start it soon became apparent that Porto were the perfect opponent for Arsenal. They were terrible at defending and looked to attack when possible leaving gaps all over the place for us to exploit. I wont describe every chance we had, there isn’t time, instead i will go through the goals as that will take long enough!
Following a couple of half-chances, Arsenal eventually opened the scoring on 10 minutes through Bendtner, but the build-up was very un-Arsenal like. Almunia punted a long ball up to 5ft 6″ Arshavin who, despite being marked by a vastly taller opponent, won the header to find Nasri. The Frenchman tried a through ball for Arshavin, but Porto keeper Helton got out to block with the rebound falling to Bendtner who poked home to give Arsenal the lead.
1-0 Bendtner (10)
The second goal was far more Arsenal-esq. Arshavin collected a loose ball on the edge of the box on the left hand side. He weaved his way past three Porto players, drove into the area and cut back for the unmarked Bendtner to tap home from close range for 2-0.
2-0 Bendtner (25)
It was superb stuff from Arshavin and good to see Nik taking up clever positions in the box as well as keeping himself onside.
Although Arsenal were fully in control, after following them for over 16 years you learn that we don’t make things easy for ourselves and i always worried we would let Porto back in the game. A better side may have managed it, but Porto are a poor team and wasted any chances we gifted them.
The game was put beyond any doubt just after the hour mark and Nasri continued his recent form with a peach of a goal. He collected the ball on the right hand side of the penalty box, twisted his way past at least four Porto defenders before smashing into the far corner from a tight angle. Unbelievable skill from the Frenchman and at last he is showing Arsenal fans just what he is capable of.
3-0 Nasri (64)
Minutes later we scored a fourth that reminded me of Arsenal 5-6 years ago. It was a devastating counter-attack that Henry and Pires would have been proud of. From a Porto corner Arshavin broke from inside his own half, carrying the ball all the way up-field towards the Porto area before releasing Eboue who rounded the keeper to tap home.
4-0 Eboue (66)
That’s the kind of goal i want to see more of from this Arsenal team, direct powerful running combined with clever supporting runs. We are capable of playing counter-attacking football so more of the same please boys.
We had to wait till the final minute before Bendtner sealed his hat-trick, which should have won my mate a lot of money had he listened to me. Eboue was brought down in the area to give Bendtner the chance to score his first ever Arsenal hat-trick. He stepped up and buried into the bottom corner, who doubted the big man?
5-0 Bendtner (90, hat-trick)
So the Gunners are through to the last eight of the Champions League for the third time in four years. I can really see a change in this team. They celebrated the goals and the win as a team and showed the kind of togetherness some say we have lacked in recent years. Although he was slightly shaky tonight, i think much of this team spirit is down to the influence of Sol Campbell. His experience and presence has benefited the team hugely in recent games.
But lets not get carried away, this was a very poor Porto side. Their defending put Burnley to shame, i can only imagine what the scoreline could have been had Fabregas and RVP been fit. There are much tougher opponents to face if we are to lift the trophy this year that’s for sure.
I suppose you can only beat whats put in front of you and Arsenal did that with flying colours. A 5-0 win in the last 16 of Europe is always impressive. A special word for Bendtner, i was pleased he bounced back after his horror show at the weekend. It will do his confidence the power of good, not that he needs any help in that department!
Almunia – 7- Not his busiest days work, but did well when called upon.
Sagna – 6.5 – Caught out a couple of times with balls over the top but did ok.
Clichy – 7 – A couple of good crosses and intercepted well at the back.
Vermaelen – 8.5 – Another great display, gave everything for the team.
Campbell – 6 – Looked sluggish at times and a couple of shaky moments.
Song – 7 – Played well but a couple of loose passes.
Diaby – 6.5 – Not imposing enough, although a few trademark runs.
Nasri – 9 – Superb goal and fine all-round performance.
Rosicky – 6 – Not at his best and went off injured again.
Arshavin – 8.5 – A couple of superb assists, looked tricky all night.
Bendtner – 9 – Well placed for his goals and took pen well. Link-up play was good as well. Will get MOM for his hat-trick, although Nasri probably deserved it more.
Eboue – 8 – Powerful running, well taken goal.
Denilson – 6.5 – Neat and tidy without excelling.
Walcott – 6.5 – Not a lot of time but looked lively.
Can Arsenal go all the way this year and win their first Champions League trophy? Please leave your comments below……
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