By 1970’s Gooner
Arsenal enter this contest on a high. They have seen off Sparta Prague with a thumping 3-0 win to add to the 2-0 away victory.
They have also won both their home Premiership games this season albeit with a one goal margin on each occasion with the winners coming in the later stages of the games.
Arsenal enter this home fixture against Portsmouth with a lot less “weaknesses” than they did against Manchester City. For a start Gilberto and Diaby seem to have returned to fitness and one of them, probably Gilberto, will take Flamini’s place in central midfield.
This will be a significant improvement as Arsenal have not so far dominated this vital area as well as required. Also, and as a result, not enough protection was provided for the defence.
In attack the return of Adebayor with a few games already under his belt will add the front man that RVP looks to have been missing. Eduardo is a fox in the box who himself needs a front man. He is likely to be on the bench.
On the wings the absence of Hleb due to illness will not necessarily weaken Arsenal as Walcott is now developing into the wing menace that everyone hoped for.
His performance against Sparta was very good and his probable inclusion today on the right wing will offer Arsenal the penetration that Hleb does not usually provide.
And penetration from the wings will be what Arsenal will need more than anything else today as Portsmouth look stronger in the middle of their defence than in the right and left back positions.
They are also likely to defend with many players behind the ball and try to score through quick counter attacks.
So where is the weakness then, you may well ask?
Senderos has not convinced that he has recaptured his good form of a few seasons ago.
That was when at such a young age he had a good run and kept his place in the Cup Final team against Manchester United.
His positioning has been suspect which is, however, important for a defender whose pace is not his best attribute.
And Portsmouth have very pacy players epitomized by Utaka and Mauri.
The return of a better shield in central midfield will be there to help him and let us hope that a good run in the side allows him to regain his confidence (lost to Drogba) and positioning awareness.
Almunia is the number one goalkeeper now and looks confident and secure. I trust him completely. If Lehmann leaves then Arsene should only recruit a third choice goalkeeper.
Probable line up against Portsmouth:
Hoyte, Toure, Senderos, Clichy
Walcott, Fabregas, Gilberto, Rosicky
Adebayor, Robin Van Persie
Prediction: Arsenal’s weakness masked. Home win. 1-0
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