Wenger’s fluid back five…

Portsmouth 0-3 Arsenal

So a rather easy win, judging by the scoreline, and one earned by Arsenal’s second string. 4th is guaranteed, and it’s likely to be where we’ll remain.

I was strimming, mowing, clipping and sweeping my little patch of north London so I didn’t bother chasing the stream, but I did have the wireless on and, with the exception of a couple of forays into Twitter on my phone, it was an old skool football afternoon.

The youthful line-up and continuing (forced) defensive tinkering makes guessing the line-up for Tuesday anyone’s guess. I’d like to think it’s Wenger’s clever way of flummoxing Fergie, but we all know that’s not true: as if our attempt to get to the final isn’t hard enough, we’ve been absolutely leathered by injuries again.

So yesterday we had Eboue at left back, Song and Djourou in the middle and Sagna at right back, with Fabianski in goal.

Hard to judge whether Eboue was any good in that role – I couldn’t really tell from Match of the Day – but I suppose it’s a possibility that Wenger may consider using him there. He has more experience than Gibbs, but I would still be very wary of slotting him in there with just one left-back game under his belt.

It was a bit of a Carling outing elsewhere – Ramsey got his first ever Premier League start and seemed composed, and Denilson, Vela, Bendtner all started.

Bendtner did his chances of playing on Tuesday no harm – he has scored a very reasonable 14 goals this season, just two fewer than Adebayor, and while his touch can be clumsy you can’t fault his work-rate. Adebayor should, at the very least, know he has Bendtner breathing down his neck.

All eyes now are on Tuesday, for a game that will completely dictate the tone and headlines of the summer in my view. Win and the team has come of age and can bounce onto greater things; lose and all the old criticisms about not winning things, about some players being not good enough, about the callowness of youth, will re-emerge.

They might anyway, of course, but as Arseblogger says, those arguments are for another time.

Over to Wenger to think of the best line-up and formation (4-4-2 please), and over to Tony Colbert to weave some medical magic on Robin van Persie.

Personally, I think Strepsils should do it. Mixed with Fisherman’s Friends.


Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.