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Hull City 1 Arsenal 2

Hull City 1 Arsenal 2

Firstly, apologies for the lack of a match report for the Porto match, work has been somewhat fraught and whilst I would prefer writing about the Arsenal to surmounting the rigours of the day job, I have to respect those that fund my season ticket! It`s a well worn football cliché, but every game Arsenal has remaining this season is its own little Cup final of sorts and a Hull side who had offered another well worn football cliché by promising to "Get into Arsenal`s faces", which judging by the way Hull actually approached the game was a thinly veiled way of saying, "Wrap your studs around some shin bones." Did you think it was possible to hate Phil Brown any more than you already do? It`s a tough ask isn`t it? But I`m going to do it for you, this was the opening line of Brown`s programme notes, "Welcome to today`s game in what is the beginning of a huge era of my life." Team that up with his assertion back in October that "This has been a bad day for me" after a 5-0 mauling at Anfield, together with his heart rendering dissertation after Jimmy Bullard`s last knee injury, "It`s been a difficult day for me, I`ve been sitting in the hospital waiting room like an expectant father." You start to build up the impression of a deplorable, self obsessed little twerp, I`d spit at him if I could get close enough, Maybe not, but I`m sure he`d accuse me of it. If he was an ice cream, he`d lick himself to death. Let`s hope him and his whiny, filthy little football club do not have cause to cross our paths for quite some time. Let`s hope we also have no cause to suffer the utterly inept refereeing of Andre Marriner too, I`ve seen jellyfish with greater backbone than that incompetent scared little twat.

With Brown, Marriner and the ever irritating Jimmy Bullard on show, blood pressure was set to go through the roof. Which media mogul decided upon this "Jimmy Bullard is should a good bloke he is" mantra? The Jimmy Bullard that demanded Fulham make him their highest earner in the squad- doubling the wages of the second highest paid player- at the age of 30 and as soon as they refused threw a paddy and took a massive step down to Hull solely for the money? Kieron Dyer has been vilified in recent weeks for costing West Ham millions of pounds for a handful of appearances yet Bullard is desperately unfortunate to have done exactly the same to Hull? Oh but he likes fishing, gurns a lot and shoots every single time he gets the ball so that makes him a diamond geezer? Like I said in the Gus Caesar article, never underestimate people`s ability to cling to myth. Hull established their game plan early on; it took George Boateng all of six minutes to shove Denilson to the floor about twenty yards away from the ball, before ploughing through the back of him ten seconds later. Marriner naturally grinned away like a lobotomised goldfish. Hull continually kicked legs, had arms around throats and pulled players down off the ball and Marriner did not punish a single offence. Every single Arsenal fan in the Smith and Nephew Stand raged because we knew what was coming, a referee refusing to take control of overzealous opponents until one of the thugs lost control of his himself and put in a genuine leg breaker. Hull fans urged their team of Neanderthals on with tawdry chants such as "There`s only one Ryan Shawcross" and "Get into 'em (fook 'em oop)." Ironically, they whinged like scorned little bitches when Sol Campbell put in a perfectly legal meat and potatoes challenge of his own. Hull players and supporters had all the poise and character of a school bully, prowling around and stealing lunch money with abandon, but going whingeing to teacher the second the nerdy kid spits water back in their faces. Doubtless the media coached masses will dismiss my anger as "a typical Arsenal fan moaning about Arsenal being tackled", to which I`d say the ball has to at least figure somewhere in the equation for it to be considered a "tackle" in any sense of the word, most of Hull`s hobnailed assaults occurred when the ball wasn`t so much an innocent bystander as a distant spec on the horizon. Yet the appallingly weak refereeing vindicated Hull`s approach and outrageously, after 36 minutes, both sides had two yellows apiece. If anyone believes that Arsenal complaints of being governed by different rules are paranoid wailings, watch this match back with your eyes open.

Despite having been charged £33 for a Premiership game in which the hosts could not provide a football pitch or even a football player, the away fans` spirits were raised as Arsenal managed to race into an early lead. A foray down the right from Sagna was the catalyst for some neat link up play between Eboue and Nasri, Bendtner then sprayed the ball across the box to Arshavin, he darted between Mouyokolo and Mendy, taking the ball with him, Mendy attempted to dive on the ball with his hands but to no avail as Arshavin calmly slotted the ball past Myhill. Hull looked shell shocked and Arsenal could have instantly moved into a two goal lead when Arshavin played Sagna in down the right and his teasing low cross was begging for an Arsenal leg as Mendy and Myhill panicked in the corridor of space between them and the ball. But Arsenal were guilty of dropping off as Hull began to re-assert themselves and concentrated on kicking the ball rather than some shins. Bullard resisted the urge to punt the ball at goal for once as he played a ball into Dean Marney, his hopeful flick found Jan Venegoor of Hesselink who was roughly a bus ride offside, not that applying the rules seemed to bother this crop of match officials and when Sol Campbell barged into the back of Hesselink a penalty was always likely. Those that believe it was a red card need to brush up on the rules of the game. The rule governing professional fouls does not say, "last man", I know that`s the phrase the footballing overlords at Sky use, but the one in the actual rules says, "denying a clear goal scoring opportunity." Since the ball was behind Hesselink, I`m going to venture that perhaps that wasn`t a clear goal scoring opportunity. Jimmy Bullard smashed the penalty home with Almunia diving the correct way but undone by the power and the height of the spot kick. When Clichy was clearly tripped in the area ten minutes later, there was nothing doing from Marriner.

Hull had some of their tenacity back and used it with venomous force when Andy Dawson delivered a powerful swipe on Denilson, for some unknown reason George Boateng then decided to poke Bendtner in the eye off the ball. Marriner, the dizzy twat, decided to book Bendtner for being poked in the eye. Bendtner could easily have fallen to the floor holding his face, but was punished by the referee for not doing so. Is it any wonder players resort to histrionics with dimwits like Marriner in charge? (I use the term "in charge" very loosely, Marriner couldn`t control his bladder, never mind a professional football match). As a result of the poor refereeing, the x rated challenge was always likely to follow, so many of us called it in the stand, so when George Boateng decided to challenge for a grounded ball by stamping on Sagna`s kneecap, it was really no surprise. The offence warranted a straight red but Marriner had insufficient testicular fortitude to award the deserved punishment and bottled it like the feckless dreg he is. Boateng will serve a one match suspension for that attempt to injure a fellow professional. But don`t tell me, Boateng loves his mum and "isn`t that sort of player"? At half time, with the man advantage I was always confident that Arsenal could win comfortably. However, the expected second half saunter did not materialise.

Arsenal never really got going in the second half, charged with a cabbage patch pitch and a resolute bunch of Hull players; the Gunners were not penetrative enough. Lacking Fabregas` driving runs from midfield, Hull contained Arsenal rather easily. The natives were rather perturbed when Sol Campbell won a 50-50 with Zayatte, given Campbell`s vast, vast weight, Zayatte had to go off. Campbell`s feet were on the ground, he went in hard but not fast and his bodyweight probably caused the injury more than anything. There was probably more force in the tackle than necessary, though Campbell didn`t leap in a la Shawcross. From there it was notable however that Hull stopped their mendacious tactics and actually displayed tenacity that was within the laws of the game (barring Fagan`s assault on Sagna, which was flagged by the assistant but unbelievably not punished further). Whether it was the red card or the Campbell tackle that eventuated in their greater respect I`m not sure, but I think the prospect of going in hard on the, ahem, hefty, Sol Campbell did not much appeal after that. (Though the guy behind me who yelled, "Football is dying here referee!" drew en masse agreement).

The Gunners needed greater penetration so called for Theo Walcott, who made an instant impact with his willingness to push the Hull back line towards their own goal. Within seconds he sprinted after a ricochet on the edge of Hull`s box, motored into the box and pulled back for Nasri who touched the ball to Arshavin, but the pitch once again interfered with his shooting, the ball taking a bobble which resulted in him skying the chance. It felt as though it was not to be our day. It was Walcott again who created a rare clear cut chance for Arsenal in the second half, he pulled the ball back for Bendtner, who took a touch and angled a shot towards goal, but was excellently blocked by Mouyokolo. The goal did not look as though as it would come, with Arsenal`s midfield three failing to inject sufficient tempo to trouble Hull, who, to give them some credit, defended with their lives in the second half. But in injury time, with your esteemed writer already mouthing, "I can`t ****ing believe we`ve blown this one" Denilson collected Sagna`s pass thirty yards from goal, through lack of ideas/ options he hit a searing drive towards goal, with the ball deviating wildly Myhill panicked and punched it straight back out in front of him and Nicklas Bendtner pounced first to return the rebound into the net and send the Smith and Nephew Stand into raptures. Complete strangers gripped and throttled one another in delight. The fifth consecutive match in which Arsenal have registered a stoppage time and another scrappy tap in for Bendtner. Having we been begging for a striker that does that for some years? There were many that were demanding we break the bank to sign one, but Wenger affirmed faith in Bendtner and the Dane promised to repay it. Another illustration of a young player thriving on the trust shown in him by the manager.

The victory elucidated that the difference between this year`s Arsenal side and last year`s is character. There have been very few adjustments in playing staff bar upgrading a starting centre half, but the spirit in this side is notable. Last minute wins away at Stoke and Hull, the personality we have shown to pull ourselves back into the title race despite several public funerals for our title hopes. Like a bad turd, Arsenal just won`t go away. Yesterday we were faced with an awful pitch, a filthy side and an utterly inept referee without our two top scorers, our captain and our defensive lynchpin, a dodgy penalty conceded and a stonewall one not given, yet still found a victory even though the second half performance was somewhat below par after our midweek exertions. All I really wanted this season was to see Arsenal make a real challenge and we are doing that, for which the team deserve the utmost credit to this point. But tomorrow, this match is forgotten about and the focus is on West Ham and taking another very obtainable three points, we`re at a stage now where one more slip will mean curtains, I`d take eight more injury time winners, wouldn`t you?LD.

1.ALMUNIA(c), 3.SAGNA, 31.CAMPBELL, 5.VERMAELEN, 22.CLICHY, 15.DENILSON, 2.DIABY, 8.NASRI (9.Eduardo `78), 27.EBOUE (14.Walcott `71), 23.ARSHAVIN, 52.BENDTNER. Unused: 18.Silvestre, 21.Fabianski, 32.Merida, 37.Eastmond.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Writer:Tim Stillman
Date:Sunday March 14 2010
Time: 3:00PM


I agree that Walcott made an impact from the second he took to the field... so why is it that no-one seems to play him in much? he's spent so much time out that his football brain doesn't seem screwed on too well so you would expect the rest of the team to goad him on a bit instead of seeming to leave him stood there like a plum
14/03/2010 15:44:00
Nothing sweeter than a stoppage time winner. Even if we don't win the league from here, it still shoves Mr Tango and his 'kickers' nearer the Championship. Goodbye Tango, goodbye Hull City and good riddance.
14/03/2010 16:01:00
If we've contributed to sending Hull down, we've done the Premier League a favour.
14/03/2010 16:54:00
The sentiments here match mine post match perfectly. The injustice of dropping points in a game which was so poorly officiated was hard to contemplate by the time the stoppage time board was raised. The team played well on a pitch that made playing well very difficult. We have had to contend with the notion that fouls against us are lesser crimes than fouls we commit hence the debate revolves around whether Campbell denied a player moving in the opposite direction to the ball was denied a goal scoring opportunity but fouls on Bendtner and Clichy which were equally worthy of a penalty are wiped from the replay monitors and that one robust but safe tackle from Campbell was more worthy of media examination that a number of spiteful and cynical ones from the home team. To win 3 points we have to accept that not all pitches will favour our style of play though you would think the self proclaimed greatest league in the world would have minimum standards that favoured football rather than Rugby. To win 3 points we have to accept that teams will look to stop us by fair means or foul. To win 3 points we are entitled to expect that match officials at least officiate equitably enough to ensure that the foul means are punished enough to limit their use. That Marriner refused to do so means that the 3 points we gained yesterday were tremendously hard won and should encourage the team to believe that they can continue to clear the hurdles that will continue to be put in front of them.
14/03/2010 17:00:00
Bendtner was clearly fouled in the box when he had clear header in front of goal but the amount of penalties decisions going against us is beginning to worry me. The Eduardo incident has had a very clear effect. Carlos Vela is the same age as Bendtner but they have had very different paths, its no surprise that one was loaned out to a spanish club and the other championship club. Vela hasn't adapted to the physical side of the prermier league but I'm confident he will, players like Reyes and Eduardo are good examples for him to follow.
14/03/2010 17:10:00
My fav match this season after the Hull game. Despicable players. An utter jackass of a refree and an unplayable football ground.
14/03/2010 17:15:00
Very entertaining read LD.
14/03/2010 17:29:00
Great result, but average performance in the 2nd half. I just didnt see where the goal would come from, but it goes to show that the Arsenal players should take the odd shot from distance just to put the keeper under some pressure. With Hull parking 10 men in the box, there was no space to pass the ball around to create a goal. Great spirit shown by the side. I loved that (perfectly legal) tackle from Sol, he even got the ball, those moron commentators said it should be a yellow. The penalty for Hull was very soft IMO. Arshavin had a good game with poor finishing, hopefully thats a one-off. It was a good move to bring on Theo and he showed a few good moves.
14/03/2010 18:28:00
Yesterday Kevin Keegan tried to argue that Sol prevented a goal scoring opportunity and should have seen red. Frank Lebouff said that he never had the ball under control and the yellow was sufficient, KK then countered that if Sol hadn't have fouled him he might have left control. The curly ***** had the balls to say this as the replay was being shown on a 30 foot screen behind him which clearly showed the ball hitting vengeorofhehslelsllsisnisikesinsksink on the back of the head long before Sol even touched him. And also didn't even mention the bloke throwing himself to the floor. As with the "last man" rule, I'm sick of people saying that any contact in the box and it's a penalty. Bull****. The contact has to be sufficient to either bring the player down or knock him out of his stride enough to gain an advantage. Anyways, cracking result, and one that will hopefully mean we won't be playing these horrible ****s ever again.
14/03/2010 19:23:00
Rocky, I disagree. It was a clear goal scoring chance and should have been a red card. As you know, strikers score all the time with the back of their neck ;-)
14/03/2010 19:51:00
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