Arsenal 5 Porto 0: How good were our midfield? Match report and player ratings
AND so the supposed dark years yield a fourth Champions League quarter-final in five years.
There really isn’t a lot to say about this one. We started brightly, just about everyone was playing well, Bendtner notched two goals, they had a brief spell after the break before two more goals and a late Bendtner hat-trick from the spot.
We looked well balanced in midfield with Nasri filling in admirably for Cesc. He, Rosicky and Arshavin (back where he belongs on the left) flitted like fireflies in the night and Porto had no answer to their movement. Bendtner’s goals spoke for themselves, yet he also played the vital role of a heavyweight anchor for our attack.
Watching this you were reminded that we have a decent squad that age wise is now looking far more balanced. Partly because last year’s callow youth are a little more savvy now. But also with the likes of Almunia, Sol, Rosicky and Arshavin all aged over 28, age wise it’s more balanced too.
It also occurred to me that perhaps I’d been a little crude in fearing that without a new keeper in January we were signing away our hopes of a trophy. If Manuel Almunia can regain last season’s form (and he has improved of late), we will have a solution of sorts, if only perhaps a short term one.
So what about the player ratings:
I thought Almunia (7) generally did OK, Sagna (7) was strong at right-back, Clichy 8) tore into everything and even put in some decent crosses, Sol (7) began with a few jitters but found his form in the second half. Vermaelen (8) just looked his usual awesome self, Song (7.5) was neat and powerful, Diaby (8.5) genuinely Vieiraesque in the way he broke up play and drove us forward. They genuinely looked like top class midfielders. Nasri (7.5) began brilliantly, faded after picking up a hefty knock but then scored a sensational goal to cap his night’s work. Rosicky (7) was neat and found himself in all kinds of space and Bendtner (8) didn’t score the world’s hardest hat-trick, but it was the perfect riposte to those incapable of differentiating between a bad striker and a striker having a bad day. Andrei (8) created three, waddled around and generally gave Porto hell.
Substitute Comrade Emmanuel Eboue (7.5) took his goal like a true centre forward. His transformation is staggering. Denilson (6.5) and Theo (6.5) did fine in a game that was pretty much dead.