Portsmouth 1-4 Arsenal
A thoroughly comfortable win on the south coast saw off 2009 in style and makes the prospect of 2010 more than a little interesting for those of us of red and white persuasion.
Iâ€™m oop north at the moment, and without Sky on the TV I watched the game live on my iPhone. Infuriatingly, the stream buffered like the dickens, in particular coming to a shuddering halt right before Nasriâ€™s goal made it 2-0. I like the idea of the Sky app that lets you watch live games without the need for a fat TV-sized monthly wedge, and I think Â£6 a month is a reasonable price to pay for the privilege, but until they sort out the quality (the stream, as well as buffering, veers between pixel-perfect and fuzzy), then I will pass.
It was an easy win. Certainly, once Nasri rifled in our second, it looked completely over as a contest. Pompeyâ€™s fans are getting increasingly militant at the way their club is being tossed around like a plaything by faceless owners â€“ itâ€™s desperate stuff and I feel sorry for them. There are plenty of salutary tales to be told about overspending, bad management, murky ownership and a lack of effective regulation from the gameâ€™s hierarchy, but as ever, I am thankful that our club is properly run. Letâ€™s hope it stays that way.
Perhaps fittingly, it was Alex Song â€“ our most improved player of 2009 by some distance – who scored Arsenalâ€™s final league goal of the decade. A quick look online tells me our first goal of the decade, on 3rd January 2000, came in a 1-1 draw at Sheffield Wednesday and was scored by Emmanuel Petit. I canâ€™t remember it to be honest; it feels like a hundred years ago rather than ten.
Songâ€™s current worth to the team can be directly measured by the increased quantity of furrowed brows among fans caused by his forthcoming absence. Heâ€™s really grown into that role, and doesnâ€™t have a direct replacement who mops up quite so vigorously. Although our squad is less hit by the call-up of African players than some, thereâ€™s no doubt he will be missed (we’ve got him for one more game, the FA Cup tie at West Ham, but not in the league now for the next month).
The pick of the goals though came from another midfielder, Fabregasâ€™s replacement Aaron Ramsey. It was a real gem, as was watching his patience with the ball, and his eye for a pass. One for the future? Not really â€“ with seven starts and 16 sub appearances, heâ€™s one for now but heâ€™s being dropped into things gently, and besides, he has quite a good player ahead of him in the shape of Fabegas. For an 18-year-old, heâ€™s bang on track and getting as much playing time as he could ever have hoped.
As for reinforcements, well when does a football fan ever say no to the possibility of an additional player? In our case, Iâ€™m with the 99.9% of Arsenal fans who clamouring for a new pair of legs up front. Wenger gives the game away, despite a bit of water muddying, when he says:
“Itâ€™s true that we have problems with our strikers. Even I say that. Everybody tells me to buy strikers, but when I look at the League, nobody has scored more goals than us.
“We have players who move the ball well and everybody gets in dangerous positions. And thatâ€™s why, with the confidence high, everyone can score goals. But we are still in the market.”
We are still in the market, thatâ€™s the bottom line. As I said in my previous post, it would be verging on the criminal not to make the most of the situation we find ourselves in. With just one experienced striker (and heâ€™s operating on only three cylinders), we cannot hope to outscore our opponents purely from midfield. Weâ€™re bang in there at the top. If we brought in a new face or two in January and still faded away, then fine â€“ that can happen. But the chances are, a new recruit could make a huge difference. So letâ€™s go for it.
Finally, a happy New Year to you all. I hope the year brings you all everything you could hope for (a new striker being a good start on that front).
Itâ€™s been an all-round pleasure. Thanks for reading my increasingly infrequent posts, for chatting on here (occasionally) and on Twitter (more frequently). Hereâ€™s to more of the same in 2010.