Writer: Brice Coffer
Date:Friday September 26 2008
Arsenal go for their 4th straight win in the Barclay's Premier League this Saturday against newly promoted side Hull City. Arsenal has looked in impressive form since that horrendous slip up at Fulham and the team will be hoping to extend their time at the summit of the table. Hull City has been the surprise team so far in this campaign (besides Spurs of course) as they currently sit at an impressive 6th place in the table, and if it wasn`t for a terrible second half meltdown by the Tigers last week, they could be sitting in a Champions League place.
After the wonderful performance from the Kids midweek in the Carlos Cup, Arsenal`s first team will return to the starting lineup, rested and ready to go. This will be the second time the Gunners have hosted a newly promoted side at the Emirates this season, but these two games will probably be very different. West Brom came to Ashburton Grove with an attacking mindset and that gave Arsenal a lot of space to dictate the rhythm of the match. I doubt that will be the case tomorrow as Hull City`s manager, Phil Brown, learned his trade from the 'Kick and Ruff them up School of Football ' founded by Big Sam Allardyce. Hull will come and set up shop in front of their goal and try their best to stifle any creativity out of the game. Arsenal`s artistic midfield play makers, along with van Persie, will need to be sharp so they can break down the Hull defense.
Arsene talked pre-match about the threat Hull provides. 'In every single game I believe the first importance is to focus on us being at our best and to cope with any difficulty which the opponents give us.
'You can take your hat off to Hull, because what they have done up to now is fantastic. They are the surprise package.
'It is a warning to us because we want an Arsenal side to be at our best to beat them.'
Arsene explains his views on appropriate tackles. 'It depends what you call a tough tackle,' said Wenger at his pre-match press conference.
'A defender has to be tough and committed, for me if tough is committed I don`t have a problem with it. If tough is the desire to hurt your opponent it`s not acceptable because that`s not the game.
The beauty of sport is to win in respect of the rules. If us as managers start to say we don`t have to respect the rules then it can`t be accepted. That`s in boxing, in football, in every sport. You have to respect the rules.
'It`s like you play tennis and the ball goes out but you say because it`s me it`s still good.'
Phil Brown revealed his game plan for Hull. 'Last week Arsenal were unhappy with a tackle from Kevin Davies but there was nothing wrong with it.
'If you allow Arsenal to dictate that tackle goes out of the game, then we are finished.
'We have got that tackle on our side - they have got the technical side of the game on their side.
'If they are allowed to express that technical side without tackling, without physical contact, we might as well not turn up.'
The injury report is filled with some good news as well as some bad. First off, Gael Clichy has been passed fit to play after sustaining a major blow last weekend. Many were concerned he might of broken his leg, so this is extremely good news that he is alright. Secondly, Mikael Silvestre will finally be available for match action since his move from Manchester United.
Now for the bad news, Alex Song received a knock on his hip near the end of the Sheffield United game and will have a late fitness test. If he is not ready to play then Arsene will probably go back to having Fabregas and Denilson share the center midfield responsibilities. Also Nasri is once again not ready to play, but reports say that he will be ready for the home tie against Portuguese giants, FC Porto, in the Champions League midweek. Rosicky is still recovering from his surgery, and Arsene admitted he does not know exactly when the Czech Republic captain will return but he seems to think it will be before the new year. Eduardo, Diaby, and Bischoff are all still out as well.
If Alex Song is not fit to play, then this young man will have to return to playing a more defensive type game. In the last two games he has been given an attacking role, but he will have to adjust back to his old role. If he does not do this successfully then Arsenal might have some serious problems at the back.
Defender Anthony Gardner will not participate in the game because he is still suffering from a thigh strain. Former Bolton and Greek midfielder Stelios Giannakopoulos has been ruled out of shape following his move to Hull this week so he will also not play a part. Another new signing Kamil Zayatte will start, and former Middlesbrough midfielder, George Boateng, will return to Hull's starting lineup.
The Tigers key central defender and player of the season last year will have to be at his best to try and stop the Arsenal attack. He is the leader of their defense and if he plays poorly then it will probably spell defeat for Hull.
If Mikael Silvestre appears for Arsenal this weekend then he will be making his 250th Premier League appearance, though the first 249 were all for Man U.
This is Arsenal's 92nd campaign of top-flight football, but this is only Hull's first.
Arsenal, the league's best statistical defense, has not given up a goal at the Emirates this season.
This is Arsenal and Hull's first meeting since 1988 in the second round of the league cup.
Alan Wiley will the head official for this match. So far this season he has referred four matches, handing out 9 yellows and no reds.
Arsenal's players are well rested and full of confidence for this match. I see Hull putting up a good fight in the beginning but eventually tiring. Arsenal to win 4-0. Scorers for Arsenal will be Ade with two, Robin van Persie, and Carlos Vela to get one off the bench.
30/9-- FC Porto(H)-- Champions League
4/10-- Sunderland(A)-- Premier League
18/10-- Everton(H)-- Premier League
Here I would like to give my congratulations and thanks to the great Arsene Wenger for 12 wonderful years at this club. There is really no use in me trying to describe how grateful I am to have him here because anything I could say would fall short of his actual value. Here's to at least 3 more magnificent years under The Professor!
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Date:Friday September 26 2008
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The State Of Play (Sunday October 19 2014)
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