Vital Football

Pompey 0-0 Arsenal

0 - 0


Sun 13-05-07, 3pm

Attendance: 20188


Arsenal were the last guests to Fratton this afternoon, victory was a must for Pompey and even that might not have been enough to earn a Uefa cup place. If I was confident of a Pompey win before the teams were announced - despite the quality Arsenal posses, I was even more confident after seeing their team, particularly their bench. It wasn't too be though and a performance generally lacking the spark and urgency you would have been expecting wasn't there and the game ended in a 0-0 draw.

Injuries to Sol Campbell and Lauren prevented them facing their former side with injuries also ruling out Dejan Stefanovic and Matty Taylor. Richard Hughes did return to face his former club though he replaced Lauren. Arsenal had former Pompey keeper Mart Poom in goal for them with a very youthful looking side, very, very much so on the bench.

Chances were at a premium for Pompey really but the one time we did break down the Arsenal back four to score through Niko Kranjcar the goal was very controversially ruled out for offside. In Graham Poll's final match as an official it was inevitable that their would be some controversy wasn't it! Prior to this David James saved a Julio Baptista penalty, with the Brazilian guilty of several other misses

First Half
We were looking for a bright opening and when Sean Davis had a go from the edge of the area early on from a well worked free kick it looked promising. Davis' effort had Mart Poom flying across his goal but was never really looking too threatening.

Arsenal very nearly took the lead themselves as Gael Clichy burst through. His effort deflected off Glen Johnson and looped up over David James but was brilliantly hooked away from beneath his own bar by Djimi Traore.

Shortly after Kanu had worked an opening before shooting wide Julio Baptista had his first chance of the game. The Brazilian got in but was denied brilliantly by James, diving down low with the ball somehow going over the bar to the other side from which the shot came in.

Pompey threatened the Arsenal goal again, or at least should have when Kanu's layoff found Niko Kranjcar but a poor first touch saw the chance get away. The Croatian still got in an effort but it was never troubling Poom.

Baptista's next chance should have seen him at least hit the target but with a free header - even if he did look suspiciously offside he headed wide, then came Poom's first save of the match. Again Kanu made space for himself before his shot from range was turned over by the former Pompey keeper.

With half time approaching Arsenal were gifted a chance. Emmanuel Eboue took on Abou Diaby's fine flick and as he burst through Linvoy Primus' mistimed challenge was a clear cut penalty. Up stepped Baptista but a well hit penalty was turned away by James.

Second Half
The second half got underway with a Pompey change, Lomana LuaLua came on with Benjani coming off, could the erratic LuaLua be the man to turn things for us?

In the first five minutes of the second half Arsenal had a couple of good chances, firstly another good Arsenal break saw Baptista in. A good first touch gave a clear shooting opportunity but James saves well then as Alexander Hleb got away from Gary O'Neil a poor finish denied him and end product.

As the Arsenal fans sang 'England's number one' to James a patient, good passing move eventually saw Traore's ball finding LuaLua offside, but he couldn't connect in any case. Then Kanu again tried his luck from range but a deflection made the save easier for Poom as he comfortably claimed.

On 64 minutes Pedro Mendes made his return from injury as he came on for Sean Davis, shortly after Justin Hoyte had the ball in the net for Arsenal but Baptista had long since been given offside.

With around 20 minutes to play we had won the match, or so we thought! LuaLua, unwilling to pass as I was screaming at him to do so proved why he wouldn't as he made himself some space before shooting. Poom saved well but Richard Hughes followed up - he really should have scored but credit must go to Poom as he reacted well to save again, but the ball still found its way to Kranjcar and he tucked home.

After quite delay the goal was eventually ruled out for offside but with the ball finding its way to Kranjcar via Philippe Senderos it shouldn't have been. It wasn't an easy call to make but it was the call that counted. 'Graham Poll, you're a f**king a**hole' soon reverberated around Fratton!

With just under 15 minutes to play the last Pompey change was made with Gary O'Neil limping off to be replaced by Arnold Mvuemba, but there was just no goal for Pompey. With pretty much the last kick of the game Pompey had one last chance with a free kick but Kranjcar's effort from Mendes' layoff that went horribly wide pretty much summed up the afternoon.

Match Summary
It has been a long season but the lack of urgency today pretty much summed up that the Uefa cup was realistically a bridge too far this season. Arsenal are a great side but with the young side they fielded - talented as they are this was a chance.

As it happens on this particular round of matches the wrongly disallowed goal today did cost us a place in next seasons Uefa Cup as results saw both Bolton and Reading fail to win, but looking at the bigger picture it is moments throughout the season that saw us miss out, especially since the turn of the year.

Nevertheless this has still been a fine season, to miss out is sad and whether a better chance will come around again for a while only time will tell, as three places - two more than usual due to the way the domestic cup's worked out, via the league will not come round all the time so a top 5 maybe 6 place is what we would normal need, or a cup win of course.

All in all we can't really complain too much, had we been told this time last year that we would be going into this game with a shot at the Uefa cup would many of us really have believed?


Pompey 0
Arsenal 0

David James
Linvoy Primus
Noe Pamarot
Glen Johnson
Djimi Traore
Richard Hughes
Gary O'Neil (Arnold Mvuemba 76)
Niko Kranjcar
Sean Davis (Pedro Mendes 54)
Benjani (Lomana LuaLua 45)

Substitutes Not Used
Jamie Ashdown
Andy O'Brien

Date:Sunday May 13 2007
Time: 8:45PM

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It wasn't to be was it... Today wasn't good enough really was it, lack of urgency and not a lot of spark... The disallowed goal did cost us the win and a place in the Uefa cup with the way others games went but our bollox away form has really cost and we only have ourselves to blame... All in all though, top 10 finish with only a handful of additions to last seasons sqaud is some improvement, I'm still proud... PLAY UP POMPEY! Next season will be the big test as we have to consolodate, if not improve - depending on who arrives...
13/05/2007 20:50:00
Excellent and spot on report pompeyrug, totally agree that our away form has been the main reason why we've not managed a higher position but I am mightily pleased and proud of what has been achieved this season - it was only a year ago that we were celebrating staying up, so we've done brilliantly this year.

Looking forward to next season but it has to be said that this one has now set new standards and ones that I hope we improve on.
13/05/2007 20:59:00
Hmmm,Poll helping Arsenil AGAIN hey...??His performance at the Emir*****es for the North London derby on December 2nd was bent beyond belief.....!!He"ll buy a season ticket next year.........
13/05/2007 21:15:00
Pompey's Euro hopes were Poll-axed
13/05/2007 21:33:00
We lost Europe on our away travels in England. Still a great season, lots to be proud about. Let's hope we can build on this. Need to improve the team, just to stand still. Play Up pompet.
13/05/2007 21:42:00
All in all, the best season we've ever seen. just seen the game on MOTD. So, the goal was disallowed for offside, how come the linesmans flag didnt go up?? Poll is an awfull ref, luckily we wont be seeing him again! Why was it disallowed? Why did poll even approach the linesman? Must have been questioned by his beloved Arsenal! Thanks for the memories this year. ENGLANDS NO. 1, ENGLANDS ENGLANDS NO. 1!! Looking at today's team, Harry needs to get busy in the summer, Need much more strengh in depth at the back, and a YOUNG striker to score .....Bent looked good when Charlton came here.
13/05/2007 23:37:00
Sorry paultsmouth but reality the is , as Storagematt, has it, "pompet" had too many poor performances against low / mediocre quality teams home and particularly away, and to often put out a team with players with indifferent attitudes. As the self appointed leader of the doom and gloomers (oh pompeypessimist where for art thou) i have to say we need someone who can teach harry to win away, i spent hundreds ( thousands if you budget beer tokens) travelling to away games this year and feel completely ripped off, by the team not the beer, i swear i wont do it EVER EVER again. We will never make that next step steveC is always on about unless we can win away. Krunchie came good, hope he stays, same of Mendes, Campbell, Lauren,GO'N Primus & Taylor. But Dej, should be coaching now & it was sad to see LuaLua taking the ball off his own team mate's shooting foot again. Kanu staying, is that good? Im not convinced. Viduka bagged another couple today so IF the daily mail has it right bring him on, he cant be worse or more inconsistent than what we have already... Was it a good season? well i think that depends on your attitude, is it better to have loved and lost? or do you think a taste of honey is worse than none at all? oooh look missus Cathay pacific have a deal on flights to hong kong.
did anyone see MOTD? I've seen a few replays and the ball comes off of Senderos, yet Motd have an angle which shows it might of hit Hughes, naturally they only show that one! Now big Sam has left Bolton it only leaves us for them to ignore
14/05/2007 06:55:00
Fair play, we can't just blame poll although the decision looked to be wrong. Like the other guys have said poor away form has done us and I think it was the watford game which we could point the finger at. We'll be back next year hopefully with a few additions and then the tough task starts. PUP
14/05/2007 08:33:00
I saw MOTD paultsmouth and have to say even by their standards the attention they paid to the 'goal' that wasn't was ******** terrible. How many times would we have seen, let alone heard about it if it were United, Chelsea, Arsenal et al... One replay and Alan Shearer's yes it was the right call were not enough. I saw the goal as it happened and dozens of replays later it still looks like it came off Senderos to me... Why was Poll disallowing it anyway, he wasn't the linesman was he, if he didn't put his flag up why is Poll putting ideas in his assistants head? But as I've said Poll isn't entirely to blame, we - the team, not fans - are over the season... Hughes should have scored with his effort really shouldn't he then we'd not be having this debate anywy, not that I'm blaming him...
14/05/2007 14:12:00
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