The windy KC Stadium was the setting for the next “must win” game for Arsenal, but if the truth be told, the only way that we are going to give ourselves a chance of finishing above third place which should be ours this season, is if we “must win” each game. There was the added pressure of knowing that Man U and Chelsea had already completed their tasks earlier in the day. It was then perhaps a signal of intent that saw Gael Clichy scythe through Hull’s Mendy in the opening minutes in a no nonsense agricultural manner that the Grimandi of old would have been proud of.
Hull had exploded out of their blocks as if intent to add to their first Gunner scalp at the Emirates. They unsettled Arsenal in the opening minutes and were only deterred by the steely resolve of Captain Toure and the defensive midfield pairing of Denilson and Diaby. Add to this Johan Djourou’s aerial supremacy and this back four looked quite solid after the first ten minutes of opening exchanges. The Hull fans probably regretted taunting the Arsenal with a chant of “You’re gonna win fu*k all!”, as this seemed to spur on our players. Arsenal replied in the best possible way with repeated interchanges of pass and movement which was vintage Arsenal. Even though some of the final touches from Eboue went astray, it was clear that we would make them eat their words.
Hull resorted to a series of cynical fouls and upon each occasion Robin van Persie stepped up and almost netted the resulting free kick. The second free kick on 28 minutes came from Hull’s Ashbee taking down Eboue just outside the box, and van Persie’s drive from the far right side, curled in and ricocheted off the cross bar. Arsenal scored from the resulting corner, which saw Adebayor rise majestically above the Hull defence and place the ball accurately into the top left hand corner of the Hull net.
Hull City 0 Arsenal 1 (Adebayor ’29)
This was just reward for Adebayor, who after a shaky start had begun terrorising the Hull back four with lively runs across the face of the 18 yard box and good link up play with his colleagues. So focused was Adebayor, that he failed to stray offside in his previous lazy manner. Nasri looked fit and combined with Clichy and Denilson, and for the first time in ages, Arsenal looked dangerous with every attack. The half time whistle blew before Arsenal were able to add to what I feel had been the best first half display from the Gunners in ten matches.
Half time: Hull City 1 Arsenal 0
The second half started with both sides unchanged. Arsenal were the team on fire this time, making 3 efforts on goal within the first five minutes. Arsenal in control of the game showed purpose and desire, and Adebayor was unlucky not to add to his account in the 51st minute with a short range left footed shot from six yards. This was after a series of crunching 50-50 tackles from the Arsenal midfield to regain possession. Arsenal were displaying the form of old with Sagna and then Nasri marauding down the flanks. On 52 minutes, Hull City made a substitution with new signing Manucho, however his introduction was greeted by a smack in the face from Djourou.
Hull City equalised against the run of play, when a cross to Mendy on the right was not closed down by Clichy. The Hull player accepted his opportunity gratefully and put in a quality cross into the danger area in front of Almunia’s near post. Cousin who had been the tormentor at the Emirates, bravely put his head in and scored from two yards. The game opened up into a cup tie atmosphere with Gooners anxiously biting their nails as Clichy came under relentless attack from the Hull attack. He was unlucky to receive his fifth yellow card of the season which rules him out of the FA fixture at Cardiff next week-end, after mistiming a slide tackle and fouling Mendy. The Hull City fans roared and Arsene Wenger began to looked frustrated and worried.
Hull City 1 (Cousin 65’) Arsenal 1
The difference between the Arsenal of six games ago, and this team on display this evening was the refusal to buckle under the intense psychological pressure. Arsene Wenger made his change decisively with Bendtner coming on for Eboue who had not played well at all for the second game running. The big Dane pressed forward with purpose and shortly afterwards he made a darting run to the right side of the six yard box, only unluckily to have his shot parried by the keeper. My man of the match Robin van Persie became the target of of Ashbee’s attention with repeated off the ball challenges and he duly received his yellow card. Robin van Persie had run his heart out for the team and his rapid changes of direction had completely confused the Hull defenders. In one particular exquisite turn after Arsenal again regained possession from strong challenges in midfield, van Persie swivelled inside three Hull defenders and slid a BergKampesque pass to Nasri out in the left channel who took two paces in and buried the ball with his left foot into the bottom of the far corner of the net.
Hull City 1 Arsenal 2 (Nasri 85’)
Arsene Wenger now was animated and urged his team on, and it was with pride that he saw Bendtner make the three points secure when again provider Robin van Persie in an offside position played an unselfish six yard pass to his left which Bendtner gratefully smashed into the net with aplomb from point blank range. GAME OVER!!! Bendtner could have scored again in the closing seconds as his header rebounded off Hull’s upright.
Full time: Hull City 1 Arsenal 3 (Bendtner 87’)
Boaz Myhill, Nathan Doyle, Michael Turner, Samuel Ricketts, Kevin Kilbane, Bernard Mendy, Ryan France, Ian Ashbee, Peter Halmosi, Geovanni, Daniel Cousin
Subs Manucho 53′
Manuel Almunia, Bacary Sagna, Kolo Toure, Johan Djourou, Gael Clichy, Denilson, Emmanuel Eboue, Abou Diaby, Samir Nasri,Emmanuel Adebayor,Robin Van Persie.
Subs: Bendtner 67′ Song 88′
Ref Alan Wiley.
This is an Arsenal team coming into form and if we push on playing our brand of football, then we will not only silence the anti-Wenger brigade, but also give us a chance of finally landing some silverware this season. The team showed courage and focus to steady the nerves. Robin van Persie and Nasri made our game flow. I really cannot see how Arshavin is going to displace our plucky frenchman from Marseille who has stepped in with crucial goals this season. Today is not the time to criticise any of the lads who delivered on a cold wet and windy night. Arsenal pla yed with confidence and with a little aggression. They came back from a defensive blunder to demolish the Hull defences. Let us remember that tonight we are three points off fourth place and six points off the top this coupled with Tottenham sitting at the bottom of the table so let’s concentrate on the positives. Man U and Chelsea only saved themselves with wins in the final minute, and soon they will drop points. I am one happy Gooner after my horrible week at the hands of felons. I will be back on the blog from next Tuesday.
Fabregas the King.