We had an injury stricken starting line-up. Our players were not sharp enough after midweek excursions in the Champions League. The opposition kicked us all over the pitch. The referee was an idiot and couldn’t control the persistent and sometimes dangerous fouling. Familiar story for all of us, isn’t it? Only this time there was a twist in the tale! We won and that is all that matters.
I have to say the performance wasn’t top notch. We are capable of much better even after all the injuries we have had. I feel this would have been a comfortable victory if we had been anywhere close to our best but too many of our players were having a roller coaster day. What was that about winning when not playing well? This was the perfect example.
Hull didn’t offer any threat, at least as far as football is concerned. Bendtner’s eye, Sagna’s knee and other bodily parts of Arsenal players were under attack all through the game. The players deserve a great deal of credit for maintaining their composure and focusing on the task at hand.
We started the game well. In the first twenty minutes or so the players showed a high degree of mutual understanding, the off the ball movement was perfect and it looked like this will be an easy win.
Arshavin finished off a long spell of possession in his inimitable style. How many times have we seen him come away with the ball even when there are two or three players closing him down in a tight space. It seems that he got lucky but if you consider the number of times he gets lucky you begin to accept that he knows what he is doing.
I don’t know what happened around the 20 minute mark. It could be that our players were tired of the pestilential fouling and lost some focus. This allowed Hull a chance to get out of their own half with a little more confidence. Eventually, they were rewarded by a blind linesman and an inept referee.
The penalty decision was a joke. Firstly, the off-side wasn’t even marginal. Secondly, the Hull striker just put himself in front of Campbell without any control on the ball. If you watch carefully the ball actually hits him on the back of his head and he has no clue where it’s gone. Thankfully, the ref didn’t compound his stupidity by flashing a red card.
Hull were reinvigorated and Arsenal seemed to have succumbed to their dirty tactics. With Hull in ascendancy and Arsenal on the decline, it is not difficult to see why nothing of note happened in the next half hour i.e. fifteen minutes either side of the interval. I meant nothing of note from a football point of view.
In this period, Boateng did try to take Bendtner’s eye and break Sagna’s knee. Both offences were red card fouls, both got a yellow. Zayatte went in hard on Campbell and came off worse. It was Hull who were being rattled.
Around the hour mark, we got our act together and our passing game returned. I was confident we will score one. We created some clear cut chances but our finishing was woeful. As time was running out I thought maybe this is just one of those days. I could see all the negative headlines and it wasn’t pleasant.
I was hoping for a lengthy period of injury time. Hull had wasted a lot of time over the Zayatte injury and six minutes was not a surprise. In the third minute of injury time Denilson found himself with acres of space 30 yards out. To be honest, as he lined up his strike, I was cursing him as I thought he will just lose possession from that distance. Credit to him for working the keeper and to Bendtner for attacking the rebound and finishing from an awkward angle.
It’s now 5 wins in a row and the countdown is down to 8.
Almunia: Didn’t have much to do, couldn’t have done much about the penalty.
Sagna: Showed more urgency in the final third. Solid defensively. Put in some good crosses.
Campbell: Looked shaky at times and short of pace. Won the headers well. Overall a decent game.
Vermaelen: Another top quality game. I haven’t figured out why our Centre Backs let the ball bounce in and around the penalty area.
Clichy: Looks like his old self doesn’t he. Solid at the back and very useful in attack. I thought he held back a bit probably because there wasn’t enough cover in front of him.
Denilson: I don’t have many expectations from him these days so he doesn’t disappoint. Did what a squad player should do without making costly mistakes.
Nasri: Was quite lively in the initial period but lost his bearings as the game went on.
Diaby: Was brilliant in individual battles and defensively. Passing and decision making in the final third was quite poor.
Eboue: Had some good moments but he should be doing better. I think he was played because of the physical nature of the game more than anything. Delivered on that front.
Bendtner: A mixture of good and bad. The finish was top class. Had a couple of other positive moments as well. His physical presence helped a lot. I felt he should have attacked the ball better on a couple of occasions. It’s an instinct he hasn’t fully developed.
Arshavin: He too had a hit and miss game. Good goal, couple of other moments of individual brilliance interspersed with some woeful finishing.
Subs: Walcott did well, Eduardo’s touch was good.