Date:Sunday May 3 2009
Don't believe the hype sang Public Enemy, never truer for Pompey, Arsenal are there for the taking we were told, only the youth team to worry about we heard, well doesn't matter who you play if you go into a match more negative than the South Pole.
Paul Hart has done a great job in bringing Pompey back from the brink, but the man's team selections make me cringe, a holding midfielder is just that, he holds. Pompey played two again in Hughes and Mullins, when you have one man up front it helps if the midfield push forward in support, not 'hold'.
Crouchie was vilified on Saturday for a couple of misses he should of scored, and rightfully so, but when people jump on his back for flicking on to no-one or getting caught in possession, it may have something to do with being the only man in blue in the opposition half!
Anyway, to the game and Pompey's line up made their indications clear, Arsenals however contained a mixture of youth and reserve, Arshavin was the most senior player by a mile, this was acknowleged by Wengers award of the captaincy.
Arsenal made all the early running, but Pompey had the first good chance, Belhadj shooting well wide from the edge of the milton end area, when he should of at least tested Fabianski.
We didn't have to wait long for the first goal however, David James' hands became sponsored by Lurpak and Bendtners weak header squirted in the back of the net. Everyone in the crowd just looked at each other, but it had really gone in.
Hart and Kidd were wildly gesticulating that Pompey should go 4-4-2 from the sidelines, but Pompey had no-one capable of partnering Crouch on the pitch, but Crouch and Belhadj did work a glorious opening on about half an hour, but the former could only lift his shot over Fabianski and wide of the post, it was another glaring miss.
That was about it from Pompey attacking wise first half, but referee Mason endeared himself to the Fratton crowd on 42 minutes by awarding a penalty to Arsenal after Arshavin tumbled under Davis' tackle in the box, I don't now how much more convincing Mason would've needed that the tackle was clean, Arshavin waved a finger to say no penalty, and even pointed to the corner!
Still, Bendtner was not going to waste the chance to double his goals tally, blasting wide of James' dive and into the net.
Second half and Kanu and Utaka replaced Hreidarsson and Pennant, this coincided with Pompey's best spell of the match, my mate offered me 500-1 that Utaka couldn't get a hat-trick, but in the next ten minutes he could so easily of done just that. First up and he dragged a great chance wide, then he skied one over the bar, managed to round Fabianski and fall over and also force one smart save, he really did create more chances for himself in those 10 minutes than in the previous 10 months.
All this pressure was undone in one quick Arsenal move though, Vela picked up a loose ball o the edge of the Pompey box and finished with aplomb, game over.
On 78 minutes and Pompey's afternoon was complete, Pamarot who to be fair was rustier than the tin man in a bucket of brine, hauled down Arshavin and then marched off, his season no doubt over.
Utaka forced another fine save from a free-kick, and then from the follow up Fabianski denied Distin his first Pompey goal with an instinctive block, really not Pompey's day this one.
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Date:Sunday May 3 2009
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