Gunned Down

Last updated : 02 September 2007 By Jim Bonner
Pompey could not replicate the result of last season at the Emirates as some bad defensive errors meant Arsenal ran out 3-1 winners despite being reduced to ten men.

Redknapp's team selection can be questioned with Lauren playing in right midfield and Utaka being played up front instead of on the right, but it was expected. Sol Campbell missed out playing against his former club yet again.

Things got off to the worst possible start when Glen Johnson was caught in possession and the ball rolled into the box with Van Persie chasing. David James didn't have much choice but to go for the ball but completely missed it and took down the Dutch striker. Adebayor converted to give the Gunners an early lead.

Arsenal found it too easy to carve open our defence and doubled their lead when a corner was flicked on in the box and Cesc Fabregas turned it in after capitalising on static defending from a set piece.

The Gunners continued to create chances whilst we were chasing shadows, failing to close them down and also failing to create any goalscoring opportunities.

Redknapp made changes for the second half with Mendes and Kranjcar coming on for the struggling pair of Lauren and Hreidarsson.

We were gifted a route back into the game when Phillipe Senderos pulled back Kanu when he was in front of the Arsenal defence and had a clear goalscoring opportunity. Referee Mark Halsey brandished the red card and Wenger's men were down to ten.

But then we conceded yet another sloppy goal as a quickly taken free kick from Fabregas caught out the statuesque Pompey defending and allowed Rosicky to fire in a third and it looked like the game was over.

However, before you know it we've pulled one back! Kanu has somehow managed to fluke a backheel into the net and the deficit is back to two. Now we finally start attacking with Utaka being our main outlet to score a goal or two.

Glen Johnson's swerving shot and substitute David Nugent's late shot in the box was as close as we came though, and we ended up leaving North London with nothing. We can't complain about the result after such a disorganised and error strewn defensive performance coupled with a toothless attack that didn't show anything until we had a man advantage.

Still, an away defeat to Arsenal isn't the worst result in the world. Redknapp's team selection and tactics will be called into question but Utaka continues to shine when played in right midfield and Kanu's performance was quite good.

We've got a week's break with the internationals coming up, so that should give us time to iron out our defensive deficiencies and sharpen the strike force for the visit of Liverpool to Fratton Park in a fortnight.

Pompey Player Ratings

David James: 6 - It's debateable whether he should have come out for the ball or not, but he didn't have too many shots on target to deal with.

Glen Johnson: 6 - Caught out at the back constantly but looks much better as an attacking threat in the midfield.

Noe Pamarot: 5 - Not his best game by a long way.

Sylvain Distin: 7 - Our best defender.

Hermann Hreidarsson: 5 - Couldn't handle Arsenal's attacking threat.

Lauren: 5 - It seems everyone can see that Lauren isn't a right midfielder bar Redknapp. Put him back at right back!

Sulley Muntari: 6 - Combative but gave the ball away too often.

Sean Davis: 6 - Couldn't keep possession either.

Matthew Taylor: 6 - Couldn't hit the target.

John Utaka: 7 - Our most creative player once he moved into midfield.

Kanu: 7 - Held the ball up well and scored, even if it was lucky.


Jamie Ashdown

Richard Hughes

Pedro Mendes: 6 - Some good passing.

Niko Kranjcar: 6 - Offered some creativity.

David Nugent: 6 - Almost scored late on again.