The way I see it – Arsenal v FC Porto

Last updated : 26 September 2006 By Jason Hogan
Yet, whilst you could say that it was a momentous moment of sorts for us in securing that first victory and that a monkey was removed from our backs, it was no surprise to me that our course to achieving that first win was not entirely smooth.

At half time, I got a text from a clearly disgruntled Gazza who was at the game. Suffice to say, he was far from impressed with what he was watching. But, almost in line with what I said in my preview of the game against the Blades, I sent him a text back saying that I had a feeling that we would struggle a little against them.

The Blades may be limited in terms of quality, but as I suggested in my preview to the game, they don't lack for collective spirit, effort and bottle. And, not withstanding the fact that Henry should have scored with a free header from close range early on in the game, they were threatening to show the same kind of stifling resistance that both Villa and Boro showed in the process of sneaking away from The Grove with a point.

It certainly wasn't the easiest of situations for me to endure on Saturday afternoon. I mean, it was bad enough sitting in my living room and constantly lurching between checking my watch as the time rapidly approached half past four, wringing my hands and gnashing my teeth in frustration without having to wait for feedback from Chris Kamara, who was covering the game for the Soccer Saturday team.

I know that there are more than a few twats to be found on TV these days but for those of you that have no option to watch GMTV every morning like I do (a fait accompli handed to me by the missus), the only person that remotely comes close to Kamara as the biggest prize twat of all on TV has to be Keith Chegwin in my opinion! It's not even the fact that he is so blatantly anti-Arsenal it's untrue that bugs me about Kamara, it's simply a combination of his stupid, ugly mug and his 80's wet look hairstyle that irritates the living shit out of me! My mates will all tell you that I'm no particular oil painting but Kamara seriously needs to sort himself out if you ask me - and in more ways than one!

It goes without saying however that I was more than happy to see Kamara report the fact that Gallas had smashed us into the lead with 25 minutes to go. However, you couldn't fail to notice the enthusiasm had dramatically waned in the voice of Kamara when we quickly got a second thanks ultimately to Phil Jagielka and Kamara looked like a man who had just come back from the funeral of his best friend by the time Henry nodded in the third.

Not that I cared too much though. My relief at seeing us finally making both home advantage and our clear superiority over the Blades count superseded the fact that Kamara had the hump and that suddenly, he wasn't quite enjoying things as much in the last 25 minutes as he did in the hour and a bit that went before it.

Interestingly enough, I watched The Last Word on Sky after the Newcastle/Everton game and Andy Gray suggested that there may be "a sense of evolution rather than a revolution" going on at the Arsenal what with Arsenal actually putting in a cross or two into the box against the Blades on Saturday.

You could barely count on one hand the amount of times I have agreed with Andy Gray where Arsenal are concerned down the years but I hope that his theory is proved right over the course of the season. I don't think there is a Gooner in the land that wouldn't love to see us put more crosses in and (as Henry did on Saturday) score with a header or two more regularly. The game against the Blades showed that we are capable of doing it.

I hope it is a trend that continues because the likes of Adebayor, Henry, Gallas, Gilberto and certainly Baptista (on the strength of some of the goals I've seen him score in La Liga both with Sevilla and Real Madrid) do allow us to have the physical scope to thrive on crosses far more than we have invariably done in the past.

Now, having perhaps lodged that tantalising thought in all of your minds, it's time for me to look towards Tuesday's Champions League group game at home to Porto.

The Portuguese giants could not possibly be coming to The Grove in better form. They have made a flying start to their domestic campaign winning all of their opening four league fixtures. However, their start to this seasons Champions League campaign was not quite so good as they were held at home by Abramovich's other club, CSKA Moscow.

I watched then highlights of that match Porto played against the Russians and how on earth the game finished in a nil-nil draw I will never, ever know. The game really could have finished 4-3 either way and it was probably one of the most open games that I've seen in the Champions League.

Whether they will come to the Grove and play with the same apparent gay abandon is highly debatable to say the least but that is not to say that the Portuguese are short of players that can pose a threat to us.

The obvious name that stands out from their team is Helder Postiga. Reading the papers on Tuesday morning, I have to agree with the comments attributed to Arsene when he spoke about Postiga in that the boy does indeed have ability and he is a better player now than the one that everyone briefly witnessed in a Spuds shirt not so long ago.

Anderson is an exciting, young Brazilian lad who courting the attention (apparently) of the PRF and Barcelona no less but for me, the two men we need to watch out for (fitness permitting of course) are Adriano (no, not THAT one from Inter) and in particular Ricardo Quaresma.

Quaresma is a boy that fascinates me. Just prior to the emergence of everyone's friendly neighbourhood "winker" Cristiano Ronaldo, he was considered to be the next big thing to come out of Portugal.

Whilst he was at Sporting Lisbon, he attracted the attention of Barcelona who paid £12 million for his services. But the move never worked out and after a spell back home in Portugal, he eventually moved to Porto on a permanent deal.

Quaresma tends to play a little deeper these days. He used to be an out and out left winger but though he can still play there, he now tends to play on the left side of a midfield three. Despite the fact that he doesn't quite have the pace of Ronaldo, I can assure you all, that he is every bit as skilful as him and if he brings his "A" game things will get seriously interesting.

I have a feeling that Porto will come to the Grove and make the game tight, tactical and cagey. The Arsenal will have to be patient and so will the home crowd. You could argue all you want about the quality of the players that they have but what makes them potentially dangerous is that their players will be reminded that they have a proud heritage in Europe to uphold.

It's the first time, believe it or not, that we have actually met Porto in a genuine competitive European game. We have excelled against them whenever we have met them in past pre-season tournaments. The question now is can the Arsenal do the same when the situation is for real.