Yesterday I was enjoying a nice replay of the Aston Villa vs Arsenal game unaware of the full time scores I saw the Gunners go 2-0 up before happerly heading off to a local game(A-League).
After a thrilling game of local football a fellow Melbourne fan also a Villa fan alerted me to the score a 2-2 draw away to Villa it was there and then that I knew our title hopes were basically over.
I will not go into the game as it has already been covered http://arsenal.footballblog.co.uk/night-knight-all-title-hopes.html but the aftermarth of the result.
Arsenal have been reduced to a club not currently worthy of the top four with injuries and suspensions and an extremely young group well and truely taking its toll.
Arsenal’s goal is still the title in the eyes of the players, owners and manager but a more realistic view is a top 4 finish that guides them to the Champions League.
This is why the clash with Portsmouth is so important?
A mid table team against a ‘top 4’ heavyweight that needs to get a win to put its season back on track ahead of the new year and transfer window.
A win that will help Arsenal stablize their league position by staying in 5th place keeping as close to the top 4 as possible while keeping away from the 5-10 ladder scrap that goes on each season.
For the match against Pompey I have summed up what I think will be some of the key match ups of the game.
Goalkeeper v Goalkeeper: Manuel Almunia v David James
A key battle in any game the power of the goalkeeper. Both keepers have had reasonable seasons with Almunia statisticly on top due to being at the ‘stronger club’ with James having much more pure ability just lacking some form.
Almunia has not been great in goals showing a lack of willingness to dive for the ball or position himself correctly throughout the season which is why I think they should show him the door but he is what we have at the moment and he is the stand in captain so lets hope that makes him step up to the world class stage set by keepers like Cech, Schwarzer and co.
Central Midfield: Denilson v Papa Bouba Diop
With the absence of Fabregas Denilson is going to have to step up against a bigger defensive minded opponent in Diop. It will be a key clash as the Gunners were lacking depth in the middle of the park with Fabregas playing so without him it will be quite a challenge which Denilson showed he could handle in attack by scoring a goal against Villa but Diop may cause a few more problems.
It will be a fasinating fight for possession in the middle of the park with the smaller sized Denilson really going to need to outsmart the bigger Diop.
Strikers vs Ex Gunner: Emmanuel Adebayor v Sol Campbell
Adebayor makes his return from suspension against Sol Campbell a proven campaigner it will be a tight battle with the outcome probably leading to a goal or a clean sheet in one way or another.
Adebayor should have the pace and assistance of Van Persie to give him the edge but an experienced Campbell could cause some major headaches for a weakened Arsenal team.
Prediction: Arsenal 3 Portsmouth 1