Ten-man Arsenal claim win
Three and easy for Gunners
By Alex Dunn. Last Updated: 02/09/07 6:05pm
Rosicky: Crucial third
Arsenal made light of Philippe Senderos' red card early in the second half to record a slick and scintillating 3-1 victory over Portsmouth at Emirates Stadium.
Pre-match and the Sunday newspapers had dedicated plenty of column inches to David Dein's assumption that Arsenal could not win the Premier League without foreign investment, on this showing, Arsene Wenger may beg to differ.
The Frenchman's band of irrepressible starlets needed just seven minutes to take the lead, when after Robin van Persie was upended by a rampaging David James, Emmanuel Adebayor was coolness incarnate in dispatching the resulting penalty.
In almost complete control, Arsenal extended this advantage when Cesc Fabregas scored his fourth goal in five games from close range.
Senderos' sending-off threatened to derail the home side's ascendancy, when he saw red for pulling back Kanu, but in punishing some miserable defending, Tomas Rosicky put the game, effectively, to bed.
Kanu's comical goal caused the odd moment of consternation in what was a hugely entertaining second 45 minutes, but few present will doubt the best side came out on top.
Glen Johnson started for the visitors after completing a £4million transfer deadline day move from Chelsea and the England defender was involved as Arsenal attacked from the opening whistle.
Fabregas attempted to send Van Persie into space with a threaded pass but Sean Davis read the danger and bundled the Dutch striker off the ball.
But Van Persie was alive to a more promising chance in the seventh minute, pouncing on an error from John Utaka - forced by pressure from Gael Clichy - and beating James in a foot race to the ball.
Van Persie's advance was halted when James sent him tumbling for a clear penalty and Adebayor sent the England keeper the wrong way by tapping the spot kick into the right corner.
The general Fabregas was heavily involved as Arsenal broke from their own half in the 31st minute with Clichy probing down the left.
The French defender whipped in a cross that sailed just inches over the head of Van Persie and Portsmouth escaped the danger.
But Arsenal could not be denied in the 36th minute when a corner by Rosicky caused havoc in the opposition defence.
Gilberto got the initial touch and the ball fell between Fabregas and Davis with the Spaniard reacting first, turning and shooting to leave James no chance from such close range.
After the break and Arsenal remained in control as Van Persie just failed to meet a cross from Adebayor and then Senderos' acrobatic header was denied by a smart save from James.
The Swiss defender was left to rue James' reactions as a heartbeat later he was given his marching orders for obstructing Kanu as the former Gunner raced in on goal.
The powerfully-struck free-kick, taken by Utaka, curled around the wall but failed to trouble keeper Manuel Almunia.
But just as Harry Redknapp's side appeared capable of pulling a goal back, Arsenal struck for a third time.
Fabregas took a quick free-kick to Rosicky and the Czech winger blasted his shot between James and Johnson from an acute angle.
Pompey finally made the breakthrough in the 62nd minute, although it was a little fortuitous as Kanu's backheel from a Utaka cross ricocheted off his own legs past Almunia.
Arsenal should have made it four but Diaby sent his seven-yard header wide when it was harder to miss and then Johnson had a long-range shot well saved by Almunia.
Dein may have his doubts, but on this form, it would be foolhardy to rule out Arsenal just yet.
|2||1st Half Goals||0|
|6||Shots on Target||8|
|3||Shots off Target||5|
Barclays Premier League
|12||West Ham United||34||37|
|16||West Bromwich Albion||33||33|