Champions League: Arsenal 4 FC Porto 0

THE financial sector may be in crisis, Spurs and Newcastle may be in crisis but Arsenal, it seems, are most definitely not. Saturday s traumatic defeat to Hull can be officially regarded as a blip rather than the signs of something more serious after Tues

THE financial sector may be in crisis, Spurs and Newcastle may be in crisis but Arsenal, it seems, are most definitely not.

Saturday's traumatic defeat to Hull can be officially regarded as a blip rather than the signs of something more serious after Tuesday night's confident dismantling of Porto in the Champions League.

Two goals apiece from Robin van Persie and Emmanuel Adebayor soothed the pain of defeat that had raged in all Arsenal fans since Saturday's capitulation to the Premier League upstarts.

Surged


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That rare Emirates defeat was forgotten as Arsenal surged to the top of Champions League Group G, a position they will look to cement in the double header against Turkish side Fenerbahce in their next two group games.

Wenger had threatened wholesale changes after Saturday's shock defeat, but in the end there was just one, Samir Nasri returning from a month on the sidelines with a knee injury to replace Emmanuel Eboue on the left side of midfield.

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Perhaps Wenger knew those wounded players from Saturday needed a chance to redeem themselves and, after rescuing a point in Kiev in the opening group game, Arsenal knew this was a pivotal match in the group and started with according intensity.

Theo Walcott and Van Persie had already tested Porto keeper Helton in the opening exchanges but the Portuguese champions served notice of their own attacking potential with a swift counter attack from an Arsenal corner, which ended with Cristian Rodriguez's header scraping Manuel Almunia's crossbar.

With their Emirates fortress having been conquered for only the second time by Hull on Saturday, the Gunners looked a little hesitant and could have been behind on 26 minutes but for a flying save from Almunia to turn aside a swerving 25-yarder from Lisandro.

It was to prove a valuable stop as Arsenal took the lead from their next attack. Emmanuel Adebayor first headed a high ball into Cesc Fabregas' path, and then stayed onside to pick up a precise return ball from the Spaniard and pull the ball back from the byline for Van Persie, who scored his first European goal for a year with a close range finish.

Five minutes before the break the Dutchman returned the favour for his strike partner after Fabregas had won a corner on the Gunners left.

Van Persie swung it over and while Adebayor's downward header lacked power, it eluded both Helton and the player on the line to bounce in off the underside of the crossbar.

Arsenal had achieved the two-goal cushion that had so eluded them on Saturday, and Porto looked a shadow of the side that had won this competition in 2004 under Jose Mourinho.

They needed a Special One to kick-start a second half comeback, but as it was they found themselves further behind just three minutes after the restart.

Abysmal defending allowed Van Persie to collect a ricochet from Walcott, muscle his way past Porto skipper Bruno Alves and toe-poke a low finish across Helton and into the far right corner of the net.

Damage

It was now simply a case of damage limitation for the visitors, who were let off the hook by Walcott minutes later, firing wide when it looked easier to score, and then Nasri also failed to find the target after Walcott had scampered clear on the right.

With the game won Wenger sent on Nicklas Bendtner and Eboue for Van Persie and Nasri, and it was Bendtner who won the 70th minute penalty for Arsenal's fourth goal, perhaps a little fortunately after an admittedly clumsy challenge from Freddy Guarin just inside the Porto box.

Adebayor swept home the spot kick and Arsenal's old heads were suddenly looking like they could emulate the 6-0 win achieved by the kids in the Carling Cup a week earlier.

Arsenal could still have hit six had Adebayor and then Eboue not missed horribly in the dying moments but it mattered not. Arsenal are back on track, and impregnable at home.

After a tortuous three days all is well at the Emirates again - as long as they don't have to play Phil Brown's Hull any time soon.

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