Arsenal ran out comfortable winners against Portsmouth on Monday night after a slow start at Fratton Park.
The League One side looked threatening for the opening half hour without ever causing Emi Martinez too many problems. They never looked like getting back in the game after Sokratis’ fine volley gave us the lead in first half stoppage time.
Five minutes had been awarded at the end of the first half as a result of an injury to Lucas Torreira’s ankle that saw the Uruguayan stretchered off inside the opening 15 minutes.
Here are my player ratings from Portsmouth 0-2 Arsenal:
Emi Martinez 6 -Made a fine save in the opening three minutes after he was being challenged by two Portsmouth players from a cross inside his six-yard box. The tall goalkeeper didn’t have too much to do otherwise.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos 7 – Played in the unfamiliar right-back role again and Marcus Harness certainly had the beating of Sokratis in the opening half hour. Got better as the game went on and produced a fine volley to give us an important lead on the stroke of half-time.
David Luiz 7 – Played an important role in the opening half hour as Portsmouth saw a lot of possession and territory but failed to test Martinez as a result of our solid defending. David Luiz didn’t venture too far forward this evening.
Pablo Mari 7 – Started his career with an important block on the edge of his own penalty area in the opening minutes of the game on his Arsenal debut. Took the initiative in making quick clearances and was tidy in possession. A positive debut from the Spaniard.
Bukayo Saka 6 – Was surprisingly quiet at left-back as I had been expecting the teenager to bomb forward against the lower league side. Mishit a volley in what was a good opportunity from a set piece.
Lucas Torreira N/A – Picked up a nasty looking injury in the opening minutes and was replaced by Dani Ceballos.
Matteo Guendouzi 7 – Gave the ball away cheaply at times, particularly in the opening stages of the game. Bizarre booking from the poor Mike Dean but fortunately it didn’t cost Matteo Guendouzi or us in the long run. Helped us see the game out in the second half.
Reiss Nelson 8 – Powered a cross at Gabriel Martinelli in the first half that should have been more careful to setup what should have been our opening goal. Reiss Nelson’s pace was a constant threat down the right wing and got his reward with a fine assist for Eddie Nketiah to make it 2-0. A hard-working performance for the youngster who will be hoping it will lead to further chances in the near future.
Joe Willock 5 – Didn’t play a huge role in the game despite playing as the attacking midfielder of our central three. Joe Willock often dropped deep to pick up possession and created little.
Gabriel Martinelli 7 – Worked hard in both halves but didn’t look like scoring aside from a headed opportunity after half hour. Another good performance down the left wing from the Brazilian though who showed some nice skills in the second half.
Eddie Nketiah 7 – Combined well with Reiss Nelson in particular down the right wing as Eddie Nketiah dropped deep to receive the ball and bring his teammates into play. Produced a fine near post finish to double our lead and put the game beyond Portsmouth.
Dani Ceballos 7 (75 mins) 7 – Took the Spaniard 20 minutes or so to settle in on the south coast in front of a good atmosphere and sold out Fratton Park. Dani Ceballos’ drive forward towards the end of the first half helped us get on top and ultimately take the lead.
Granit Xhaka (4 mins) N/A – A late run out to help see out the clean sheet.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles (0 mins) N/A – Brought on in stoppage time simply to get another appearance next to his name.