Arsenal 1 (Gallas 81) Portsmouth 0
A dull game and an uninspiring performance matters little when you pick up the three points, a mantra George Graham stuck to for years, and one that the returning Tony Adams, in the opposition dugout at Arsenal for the first time, would’ve recognised and appreciated in his own way.
There is very little to speak of from the game, except that both sides looked woefully short of confidence. Crouch could’ve opened the scoring, heading against the post in the first half, but other than that Portsmouth rarely threatened, while our main opportunities came whenever David James flapped at a ball.
Adebayor had the one exceptional chance, being sent through by Diaby only to be denied by a superb recovery tackle, and later he would hammer a fairly simple chance into the side netting. But just as you got the feeling that we would fall further from the top in the sort of game the big sides somehow nick, we managed just that, when James again flapped at a Denilson free kick, Gallas getting there just in time to head home.
And that was that. We actually kept a clean sheet, only our sixth in twenty league games this season, and moved back into fourth, with Villa playing Hull tonight. It was also a boost for the much maligned Gallas, who despite his at times abysmal defending has regularly popped up with crucial goals. This was another.
So a turbulent 2008 ends well, and the much feted and equally despised transfer window opens on Thursday. It promises to be interesting – City are going to splash the cash, West Ham, Portsmouth and others need to sell, while plenty of clubs have obvious weaknesses, us included. Quiet it probably will not be.
But that doesn’t start for two days, so until then, have a happy New Year.