The Gunner Warm Up Before Big Battle  

Sunday, 3 May 2009

The Dane scored twice in the first half before young Mexican Carlos Vela netted a third after the break and Pompey had Noe Pamarot sent off for a professional foul.

This result give Arsenal opportunity to improve before they met Man United in champion league clash and sent Arsenal 13 points clear of fifth placed Aston Villa, who play Hull City on Monday.

Defeat for Pompey saw Paul Hart's side stay in 14th, seven points above the drop zone, but still close enough to feel threatened with four games remaining.

Pre-match, Arsene Wenger had said he wanted to give several players a breather with one eye on Tuesday's Champions League semi-final second leg against Manchester United.

But at the same time the Gunners boss had admitted he did not want to compromise the result and that putting daylight between his side and Villa was imperative.

But such is the wealth of young talent Wenger has available to him, he was able to fulfil both wishes as he made sweeping changes to the side that lost 1-0 at Old Trafford during the week, while at the same time watching their replacements cruise to victory.

Out went the likes of, amongst others, Manuel Almunia, Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Emmanuel Adebayor while in came Lukasz Fabianski, Aaron Ramsey, Vela and Bendtner.

Andrei Arshavin - cup-tied for the United clash - and Theo Walcott also started, but Wenger's side was for the most part a reserve XI.

There was an element of fortune to Arsenal's first two goals.

Bendtner opened the scoring on 13 minutes, heading home from Arshavin's cross, but the ball only found the back of the net thanks to yet another howler from David James.

England's number one looked a safe bet to make what should have been a routine save, only to let the ball slip through his fingers when it most mattered. It was a classic James moment, and another he will want to forget in a hurry.

Vela had a chance to add a second - only Herman Hreidarsson's excellent saving tackle denied the Mexican - before the Gunners did manage to double their advantage on 39 minutes.

Again, the goal arrived under fortuitous circumstances, after referee Lee Mason adjudged Sean Davis to have brought down Arshavin in the penalty area. Replays showed the Pompey midfielder to have played the ball before Arshavin fell over his leg.

Bendtner stepped up to net his second of the day, despite James having guessed the right way.

Portsmouth boss Paul Hart made two changes at half-time, bringing on Kanu and John Utaka for Herman Hredarsson and Jermaine Pennant, and the double switch initially seemed to work as Pompey pushed for a goal that would get them back into the game.

Utaka, Peter Crouch and then Kanu all had decent chances to find the back of the net but the hosts were made to pay for their profligacy in front of goal when Vela netted Arsenal's third on 56 minutes.

It has a difficult few days for the Mexican, who was asked to stay away from training earlier in the week amid fears over swine flu, but the striker put all that behind him as he found the bottom corner with a crisp low drive.

Vela nearly had a second soon after - James showing another side to his game with a brilliant stop - as Pompey's resistance crumbled.

Pamarot's sending off, for a tug on Arshavin as the Russian threatened to break through on goal, sealed Pompey's fate although Crouch, Utaka and Sylvain Distin all had good chances to register a consolation goal at full-time approached.


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