5-0 Does Not Mean It's Time To Relax...

It was a brilliant evening for Arsenal fans on Tuesday. We were hosting Porto in the home leg of our Champions League tie, and down 2-1 (with the always important away goal) on aggregate after just plain giving away a pair of goals and the away leg itself. This meant that a 1-0 win or better would put us through. I had personally predicted 2-0 to Arsenal, with goals from Bendtner (making up for missing 4-5 absolute sitters against Burnley on Saturday) and Diaby. I was partially right.

To Porto's credit, they did not come merely to defend their lead and hope for the best, they actually tried to attack. It did them little good as Arsenal were all over them from the start. The deadlock was broken in our favor inside of 10 minutes, as Nasri slid a ball to Arshavin between two defenders. One of them managed to knock it out of the Russian's path with his leg, but the ball ended up in the path of Big Nick, whose sliding finish was crisp and lovely. 1-0 to the Arsenal. We remained on the attack and after a few near misses (Diaby nearly made me a prophet), we were rewarded again when Porto failed to clear a ball. Arshavin took it, confused several defenders and just skinned Fucile on the left of the box, sliding a pass beyond keeper Helton and right into the path of the Dane, who finished with aplomb. Two lovely goals from the much-maligned Bendtner, Arsenal were rolling, and our advancement in Europe was nearly secure. We remained on the attack, repelled Porto's odd attack (Vermaelen was outstanding once again), but the score remained 2-0 at the half.

Porto had a few chances after the restart, but caused no problems as we worked to find our first-half form. Still, 2-0 meant that a Porto goal brought them right back in it, so we couldn't be comfortable unless we got another. Someone's prayer was answered when Samir Nasri, already having a superb match in place of Cesc, produced some individual magic. The Frenchman took the ball on the right side of the Porto box and danced around and through three defenders, creating just enough space to strike from a tight angle, in off the far post. It was one of the best Arsenal goals I've seen and certainly the best in recent seasons. It also took us to 3-0 and nearly assured our place in the quarterfinals. But we weren't done yet.

A few minutes later, a Porto corner was cleared and Arshavin latched onto the ball and raced up the left side. Centrally, substitute Emmanuel Eboue made a gut-busting run up alongside, and Arshavin's through ball into the box was PERFECT. Eboue dribbled around the charging Helton and finished well. 4-0 to the Arsenal, and the impressive Eboue had made his mark.

But we weren't done yet. It was Eboue again who took the ball into the box in the first minute of injury time and was dragged down. The referee pointed to the spot, and Bendtner strode up to take the kick. He finished beyond Helton and now had his first Arsenal hat-trick. I felt wonderful for Nick myself, as we know how hard he works. While his touch leaves a bit to be desired at times, he did wonderfully to get three, and his limitless confidence stood him in good stead as he bounced back from a nightmare match on Saturday to be Tuesday's hero. Well done, Nick.

As a quick aside, I remember watching FSC's "Super Sunday Plus Sabado Gigante" or whatever the fuck it's called, and after going over each of Bendtner's increasingly cringe-worthy misses against Burnley, Warren Barton made the point that "Arsenal fans will never love Nicklas Bendtner because he doesn't finish." Or something along those lines. Admittedly, some Arsenal "fans" will never love Nick no matter what he does, and many of these would rather be right than happy. I saw a comment on one blog after the Porto match saying that Nick was just lucky and that his goals were tap-ins. First of all, random commenter, you're a moron. The first goal required great strength and skill, and for the second his positioning was pin-point perfect, staying just onside and in an area where the keeper would be hard-pressed to reach a cross to him. And he scored both. Secondly, what kind of self-absorbed fan are you to be upset when a player that you've slagged off ON YOUR TEAM scores a hat-trick? If I'm unkind in my assessment of a player, I'm thrilled when that player has an amazing game. Bendtner haters, suck it up. I can't understand the bile directed toward the lad. He's just turned 22 this season. You know what Drogba was like at that age? Not as good as Bendtner is. So suck it, Warren.

Now we come to my title for this post. Yes, it was a lovely win, a brilliant performance and a dominant one. But it will be for naught if Arsenal become complacent. We come right back on Saturday to face DBH (Dirty Bastards Hull) at the KC Stadium, which is either named for the home of the Royals and the Chiefs, or for the Sunshine Band. It will not be an easy match. Hull are managed by Phil "OC" ("Orange Cunt") Brown, and his Allardyce-inspired brand of anti-football never makes for an entertaining match. Add to that their overall cuntiness and dedication to a "good English" (read: dirty) style of fouling and kicking, and they're never going to be the team you want to travel to play. Nevertheless, that's what Arsenal will do, and nothing more than 100% will get us the points and keep us in the title hunt.

Is this a winnable match? Of course. But it will not be easy. It will be rough, physical and demanding, and we will need to do it again without our captain, as Cesc will miss another contest with his dodgy hamstring acting up. We'll also be without Song (suspended), and may be without Sol, Rosicky and some guy named Carlos Vela who I can't remember. William Gallas remains sidelined with a suspiciously long-term calf problem, so if Sol is too old to play tomorrow then we're stuck with Silvestre, and my heart is already about to seize up at the thought of it. Get well soon, Big Willy. Please.

I expect we'll line up with Almunia in goal, Sagna, Silvestre, Vermaelen and Clichy at the back, Denilson, Diaby and Nasri in midfield, and Arshavin, Bendtner and Theo up top [*UPDATE* It appears sagna will be held out of this one, so Eboue will have his chance to shine again - Ed.]. I really do hope Theo continues on his good form, because when he's clicking, he's dangerous, and when he's not, he's dangerous to us. Come on Theo, look at that goal mouth beaconing. Go on, have it. We're alive and well in Europe and in England. Let's take the fight up north. COME ON YOU RIP-ROARING REDS!!!!!

One last note... big ups to NYC Arsenal supporter Mark DeFrancis for a new song for our attack. To the tune of the "Pinky and the Brain" theme:

Arshavin and the Dane, Arshavin and the Dane, One is a Russian, the other's Insane, They're Arsenal's attack, 'til RVP comes back, Arshavin, Arshavin and the Dane Dane Dane Dane Dane Dane Dane Dane Dane Dane Dane Dane Dane...

Look forward to belting this one out at Nevadas on Saturday. Hope to see you there, but wherever you are, sing loud and proud.