Date:Saturday December 16 2006
Saturday 16-12-06, 3pm
Pompey's first visit to Arsenal's new home the Emirates Stadium ended with us going home with a point when it looked like we might have got three before then looking like we might even get none!
Having missed the victory over Everton last weekend Pedro Mendes returned to the Pompey midfield in place of Manuel Fernandes who dropped out of the squad completely and seems destined to exit Fratton Park with rumours mounting that we don't actually have the funds to sign him?
Kanu won his battle to be fit and took up his role as a lone forward; Benjani's injury ruled him out so David Thompson came in as part of the five man midfield.
A Noe Pamarot first half injury time goal put us ahead, with Matty Taylor, with another beauty putting us two up shortly after. An immediate impact by Arsenal substitute Emmanuel Adebayor brought Arsenal back into the game with Gilberto Silva levelling things two minutes later. Arsenal pushed for the win but we held firm as the game ended 2-2.
With the game only minutes old David James was called into action for Pompey, saving well with his feet from Robin Van Persie's header from close range before the ball was cleared to safety.
The match's real turning point came early in the second half but another key moment came as early as the sixth minute in my opinion. With Freddie Ljungberg injured his place was taken by Theo Walcott who caused Pompey problems all afternoon with his pace.
Pompey did have an early effort of our own, right-back Glen Johnson venturing forward tried to catch out Arsenal's goalkeeper Jens Lehmann with a drive, this however went safely into the Germans hands.
At the midway point of the first half James was called into action again, twice in fact in very quick succession. Cesc Fabregas' shot from just outside of the area appeared to deceive James slightly as he almost dived passed the ball but he managed to parry it away but it fell to the arriving Van Persie but James recovered to block his follow up.
Arsenal arguably controlled most of the first half but we stuck to our task well and remained in the game giving Kanu support up front when needed, David Thompson and Kanu himself both missing half chances.
With half-time almost upon us, in fact in the dying moments of injury time Pompey did the unthinkable to stun the Emirates crowd. Matty Taylor's free kick found the head of Thompson who will be disappointed not to have scored himself as his effort came back off the post but Noe Pamarot was quick to react and the former Spurs man headed into the empty net to give Pompey a half time lead.
With the pattern of results at the Emirates this season the only outcome was a 1-1 draw now, wasn't it?
Pompey were quick out of the traps in the second half, not content with the one goal maybe beyond many's wildest dreams we found ourselves 2-0 up! Could we really become the first team to win at the Emirates? As Arsenal failed to clear the ball from their area it finally found its way to Taylor waiting on the edge of the penalty area and he expertly lifted a volley beyond Lehmann.
Efforts were then exchanged through Thompson and Alexander Hleb before Arsenal's most telling contribution saw the vastly improving yet highly underrated Emmanuel Adebayor come on for the ineffective Jeremie Aliadiere. His impact was almost immediate as he was maybe unfortunate not to have been awarded a penalty under a challenge from Johnson.
Minutes later Adebayor did what he was brought on to do, he scored. Walcott's pace saw him get away and his pull back found the arriving Adebayor who slammed home from 12-yards to bring Arsenal back into the game.
Two minutes later Arsenal were level! A stunning 40-yard drive from Kolo Toure was superbly saved by James, but his parry was only as a waiting Arsenal forward and try as we might we couldn't get it away. Walcott`s fortunate miss-hit fell to Gilberto and the Arsenal captain made no mistake.
With twenty minutes to play Harry Redknapp made his first change, Niko Kranjcar came on for Thompson.
Robin Van Persie pulled an effort wide, Walcott shot straight at James and Gilberto shot narrowly wide as the Arsenal pressure increased. Redknapp responded by making another change, the lone ranger Kanu, who had been getting support came off with Richard Hughes coming on.
Mathieu Flamini had one final chance for Arsenal in injury time but he drilled wide as we stood firm to claim a point and slightly alter the pattern of results at the Emirates, an away goal had previously resulted in a draw but a 1-1 draw.
Had any Pompey fan been told they would come away from Arsenal, be it at the Emirates Stadium or Highbury with a 2-2 draw they`d have bitten your hand off and anyone who tells you differently is a liar.
Having taken a two goal lead we must be disappointed not to have won but at the same time with the amount of chances Arsenal had and should have had a 2-2 draw was the least they deserved. We battled well and showed more attacking threat for periods of this game which was good to see.
We now go on a run of games over the next few months that are all winnable and why shouldn't we be looking to go through them all without defeat? It isn't until March that we next face one of the big four when Chelsea come to Fratton Park, remain undefeated or beaten minimally winning most, if not all home games and European football will be very much a possibility at Fratton Park next season.
PLAY UP POMPEY
Arsenal - Emmanuel Adebayor 58, Gilberto Silva 60
Pompey - Noe Pamarot 45, Matty Taylor 47
David Thompson (Niko Kranjcar 71)
Kanu (Richard Hughes 84)
Substitutes Not Used
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Date:Saturday December 16 2006
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