Tue, Dec 30, 2008 - Page 18 News List

CHRISTMAS & NEW YEAR MATCHES: Gallas heads the Gunners back up to fourth place

AFP , LONDON

A William Gallas goal nine minutes from time enabled Arsenal to reclaim fourth place in the Premier League with a 1-0 win over Portsmouth at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

Victory saw the Gunners move ahead of Aston Villa, who do not play until today, on goals scored, although they remain 10 points adrift of leaders Liverpool.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger made three changes from the side that drew 2-2 at Villa on Boxing Day.

Alex Song missed out through injury, but Robin van Persie and Kolo Toure found themselves on the bench as Gael Clichy, Nicklas Bendtner and Emmanuel Adebayor returned.

Adams also made changes following his side’s 4-1 defeat at home to West Ham United. Papa Bouba Diop and David Nugent came in for Glen Little and Jermain Defoe, the former Spurs striker, who were named as substitutes.

Nugent began on the right of a five-man midfield as Pompey opted to use Peter Crouch as a lone front-man.

The plan worked as Arsenal were able to exert pressure only occasionally in the first 20 minutes through set-pieces that came to nothing.

It was Pompey who at last brought the game to life when Crouch hit a post in the 23rd minute. Nugent crossed from the right and the striker, having out-jumped Gallas, saw his header bounce back off the post with Gunners keeper Manuel Almunia beaten.

Portsmouth’s David James almost gifted Arsenal an opener two minutes into the second half when he flapped Nasri’s corner to Mikael Silverstre. Adebayor tried to pounce, but the ball was cleared.

Wenger sacrificed Emmanuel Eboue for an extra attacker in the 66th minute, but it was the teenager Carlos Vela who came on, not van Persie.

But hopes of an away win were dashed when Diop rashly fouled Vela near the left touchline and France defender Gallas headed home Denilson’s free-kick, with James again failing to make any contact after coming off his line.

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