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It may have been a frustrating night and an average performance but still a win is a win and that’s what matters in the end.

Gallas celebrates

The game started in disastrous fashion for the hosts. They could not get into their quick passing football at the start and looked uncomfortable when in possession and they paid the price for it. Hull pounced on the first available opportunity. Barmby took a shot that took a huge deflection off Djourou and lofted over the helpless Fabianski. 1-0 to the visitors and it seemed Hull were up for another upset at the Emirates. But Arsenal had other plans. That goal was a wake up call for the Gunners. After that they started to dominate and that continued till the end. But occasional opportunities for Hull remained and they got one very soon after the first goal. A free kick given away by Gallas just outside the box and we have seen Geovanni score from that range before. His free kick was nearly a body blow for Arsenal. Heading for the top corner but Fabianski dived and punched the ball out for a corner. A world class save to deny Hull a dangerous 2-0 lead. After that chances kept falling Arsenal’s way but no clear cut chance. It remained 1-0 at half time and Arsenal needed to improve if they were too keep alive their dream of winning the FA Cup. van Persie was quite surprising in the first half. He looked helpless whenever he recieved the ball and couldn’t do anything noteable. Diaby was as worse. 90% of his passes were to Gallas and Sagna. He looked too hesitant to make forward passes.

Wenger’s half time talk reaped fruit for Arsenal. The second half was sheer domination for Arsenal. They nearly broke the deadlock with a Diaby header from a corner but the ball went wrong side of the post. Then a header cleared off the line came to Song with his back towards goal. The Cameroon international tried an athletic effort but once again off target. The pressure was mounting but Arsenal failed to convert their opportunities to goals. With 20 minutes remaining I feared this is not our day. Visions of Arsenal vs West Ham came to my mind and this match seemed just like it. Chance after chance but they couldn’t score heading for defeat. Even when Nasri and Bendtner came on, the number of chances increased but the goal was still lacking. Eventually substitute Bendtner got away from two defenders inside the box and was at a very acute angle towards the goal. He picked out the unmarked Arshavin at the far post. The Russian instead of attempting a difficult finish from a tight angle found van Persie right ahead of the goal, he too was unmarked, and he did not make any mistake. Lashed it into the top of the net with a first time effort by his right foot. Finally Hull’s resistance had snapped thanks to some poor defending. After that Hull could not do what they had been doing all match – time wasting. So as they tried to attack, Arsenal’s attacks became more dangerous. The winner came with just around 5 mins to go. Once again a substitute was involved. Nasri’s free kick lofted into the box. Three four players and the keeper went for the ball and eventually it landed to Gallas who was expecting the ball to come to him. A simple header to make it 2-1. Hull were furious as they claimed Gallas was offside and replays suggested they were right. But it seemed Myhill could have had the last touch before the ball fell to Gallas. Because of the number of chances they created Arsenal deserved to win!

Fabianski had a very good match. He was not at fault in the goal and apart from it he was brilliant. Sagna worked his socks off. Equally impressive at defending and attacking but it was his poor clearance that set up Hull’s opening goal. Djourou was poor. Gallas was solid. Gibbs was terrific. Unbelievable performance from the youngster. I was particularly pleased with his crossing apart from defending and runs. He is like a young version of Clichy except that his crosses are much much better. He has a great future ahead of him. Arshavin was exceptional yet again. He can pick out brilliant defence piercing through balls out of nowhere. Amazing. Song was good once again, solid. Diaby was very poor in the first half but better in the second. Walcott was great as expected. Vela and van Persie were poor mostly. Vela had a bad day but he is far more capable than how he played today.

Moving to some controversial issues now. Phil Brown accused Fabregas of spitting at Hull’s assistant manager Brian Horton. What a hopeless accusation. I can’t even imagine Fabregas doing such a vulgar act. What a bad loser Brown is. Just because you have been dumped out of the cup by fat better opposition doesn’t mean you put out baseless accusations. Fabregas has immediately denied it saying he hasn’t done it on the pitch even so why would he do it when he is not even playing. Its odd that Brown is the one making the accusation not the victim himself! It kind of shows someone is just lying. Trying to take his anger out on someone! But it’s not proven yet. I sure hope Cesc didn’t do it.

As for Wenger not shaking hands with the lizard-face, it was Brown who rushed down the tunnel first I think. Even if he hadn’t gone down first he looked disgusted and not in the mood of  a handshake so nothing Wenger could have done really. Bad loser Brown.

Hull will look to emulate their historic win at the Emirates last year...

Hull will look to emulate their historic win at the Emirates last year...

Arsenal will look to continue their fight for trophies from two fronts as they face Hull City at The Emirates tonight in the FA Cup. But they will be without the services of Eduardo, Clichy and Almunia for it. Eduardo injured his groin against Roma and is not fit enough to return yet. Almunia is also out injured. Clichy has been rested. Wenger also mentioned Ramsey has been rested because “he is growing in stature and a bit tired”. How come he is tired without even being given a chance to play?! That’s odd. I am a big fan of Ramsey and he surely has a bright future ahead of him but he should be given chances at least in the FA Cup. He must be feeling sitting on the bench week in week out: “Damn, I should have stayed at Cardiff.” But he has to be patient. Wenger knows how to bring up these youngsters to the top level and Ramsey should turn out to be another one of his wonders. Arshavin is a doubt for the match but he is in the squad and his involvement will be decided late on because the Russian is desperate to play. He was annoyed at Blackburn’s physical game and called them the toughest tackling team he has played against. Arsenal’s new recruit’s foot had been cut badly by Ooijer and he is in pain and had eight stitches on it. Regarding his involvement Wenger said: “We will make a decision today. He is desperate to be involved. He just wants to play.”

Arsenal will be looking to continue their brilliant form and march on on the road to Wembley. Even if Arshavin does not start, Nasri is world class and so is Walcott so we shouldn’t miss him much. Walcott really is exceptional. I have a feeling he is going to get an assist or two tonight. Who will play in the central defence is a question. Toure and Djourou were very solid at the weekend but Gallas had some rest and maybe that rest was for this game. Toure and Gallas partnership on their day is one of the best in the world. Song and Denilson are also forging a decent central midfield partnership with Song going through the best form of this life. I expect this line-up:

Sagna     Gallas     Toure     Gibbs
Walcott     Denilson     Song     Nasri
Vela     van Persie

Quite a strong line-up but van Persie will need to improve a lot from his recent performances. Wenger is confident Arsenal can go on and do something special this season:

“Of course there is a burning desire to win a trophy and if we focus on our performances then we can create something special.”

Arsenal will look to exploit Hull’s poor form. Just 2 wins in the last 9 games for The Tigers. But despite coming into this game as big underdogs, Geovanni isn’t at all worried by the fact that they are coming into this game with a poor form and play against a team that is in hot form:

“It is another game where we can prove ourselves. The FA Cup is important because it can help everybody’s confidence. The target is go there and win. It is a big game and Wembley will be important. Everyone wants to get there. My dream is to be at Wembley.”

I think Arsenal should prove to be too good for Hull but they will surely put up quite a fight. It will be a close encounter but Arsenal should come out on top. Hull cannot afford to sit back and defend so that will be of immense help to Arsenal because the Gunners love to play against teams that like to play football and attack them. An early goal for Arsenal could provide a deadly blow and Walcott’s pace is dangerous enough to do that just like we saw against Blackburn. I predict 2-0 to Arsenal.

by Zain Shahid

Nasri goes to his manager after scoring the 2nd goal

Nasri goes to his manager after scoring the 2nd goal

Arsenal wanted revenge at the KC Stadium and they got it in great style! A typical Arsenal performance which we have been missing for quite some time now. The start like in most away games was itchy. A couple of dangerous corners and an unsuccessful penalty appeal for Hull. But that was all they got as Arsenal slowly got into their rythm. van Persie got a free kick within range and a good angle. He nearly made full use of it but it unluckily hit the post thanks to Myhill’s fingertips. However van Persie sent in a brilliant pin-point delivery from the resulting corner which was headed into the top corner by the tall Adebayor. Adebayor certainly needed the goal, but it was expected considering most of his 12 goals this season have come away from home. Soon after Adebayor found the unmarked Eboue with the keeper at his mercy but the midfielder rushed into the shot and smacked it wide first time. Arsenal ended the first half as the better side. The second half had more of the same Arsenal attacks but out of the blue Hull got an unlikely goal. Poor decision making by Clichy as he backed away from Mendy when the Hull midfielder got the ball outside the box in a good crossing position instead of attaking the ball and he had to pay the price. Mendy sent the cross in, it was deflected off Clichy, caught Djourou sleeping and ended up being headed in emphatically by Cousin. at this time it seemed Cousin’s goal will haunt Gooners in the coming weeks and honestly speaking I thought Arsenal will now drop 2 points. The goal sparked a Hull resurgance but it was shortlived. Arsenal’s men of the moment got back to business when Arsenal needed it most. van Persie got the ball with three defenders surrounding him but with some clever footwork he got away from him and sent the unmarked Nasri through on goal. Nasri did not mess up and finished exquisitely from his weaker foot. Arsenal were once again in the driving seat and after this goal Hull never really managed to get back into the game. Soon after van Persie provided the goods yet again. This time he found Bendtner’s run into the box and the Dane’s clinical finish was not there to be stopped. The match was over at this stage for Hull but not for Arsenal. Arsenal wanted more and nearly made it 4-1 when a rare accurate cross from Clichy found an intellegent run from Bendtner, but the post unfortunately denied the Arsenal forward a brace as his header hit the woodwork. The Hull fans were silenced and Arsenal fans jubilant. I had jumped from the sofa in ectasy when Arsenal had scored the last 2 goals!:D

So overall it was a brilliant performance from Arsenal. van Persie once again the man of the match and he got the awesome support of Nasri. The defending not the best especially during the goal. With the other top 5 apart from Liverpool getting lucky late wins, this match had the importance of a must win match and Arsenal responded with great character and gave a performance to remember.

Player Ratings:

Almunia: 6.5 – Did not have much to do but he communicated with the defence better than in the last match. There was nothing he could do about the goal so you can’t blame him for it.

Sagna: 7 – Mr. Consistent puts up another commendable performance.

Djourou: 6 – Nearly gave away a penalty and did some poor marking which led to Cousin’s goal.

Toure: 6.5/7 – Good performance. Looked solid.

Clichy: 5.5 – A big mistake that led to the goal. And at times he did not look much confident while defending. But it was nice to see an accurate cross from him as he really needs to improve his crossing.

Eboue: 6 – Gave the ball away with poor passing and a bad miss in the first half when he should have scored.

Denilson: 6 – Most of his passsing was once again sideways and poor defending.

Diaby: 6.5 – Good going forward at times but lacked the defensive edge as a central midfielder is also required to help the defenders.

Nasri: 8 – Brilliant yet again! His movement both on and off the ball was perfect. Good passing and a few good crosses. The goal was an unstoppable finish and that too with his weaker foot.

Adebayor: 7 – Got a vital early goal. But he slowed down attacks with his shielding of the ball and in the end passed the ball backwards. But his movement seemed good.

van Persie: 8.5 – The man of the match. Awesome performance. Assisted all the three goals. Greak footwork, passing and runs. Superb stuff from him.


Bendtner: 7.5/8 – He is doing exceptionally well on the right wing. Making good runs and the finish for the goal was brilliant. Deserved another goal from the header.

Song: Had too little time to make an impression.

by Zain Shahid

Hull City vs Arsenal

Hull City vs Arsenal

Some might say it’s revenge time for Arsenal this weekend against Hull… but actually it’s more than just revenge. Arsenal are finally getting into a bit of form this season and are 6 games unbeaten coming into this match including wins in their last 3 games. Not only this, they are finally starting to win dirty, something that had been missing so far this season. On the other hand, Hull’s dream run in the season has come to a stop; or as many would say: the bubble has burst. No win from their last 12 matches and 4 consecutive defeats coming into this match. However they do have a bit of a morale boost with the 1-0 away win at St. James’s Park in the FA Cup. Just like it has been for the past few weekends, it can be termed as a must win game for Arsenal. Arsene Wenger knows that with 5 defeats already this season he cannot afford to drop points in matches like these, especially with trips to White Hart Lane, Anfield and Old Trafford still remaining. The last 3 matches have been wins for Arsenal but all have been at the Emirates so winning this match is very vital as Arsenal need to improve their away form. Arsenal need to set the tone for this year and spark a comeback into the title race.

The most probable line-up for tonight’s match is:

Sagna     Toure    Djourou    Clichy
Eboue    Denilson   Diaby   Nasri
van Persie    Adebayor

*In this line-up though, I am not sure if Nasri will be on the left or Diaby will be because we have all seen we need Nasri’s brilliant creativity in the centre in Fabregas’s absence. Arsene Wenger too was impressed by Nasri’s work in the centre. One thing is for sure, even if Nasri starts on the left, he will end the match playing in the centre.

However the line-up that I would love to see is:

Sagna    Toure    Djourou    Clichy
Eboue           Ramsey            Vela
van Persie    Adebayor

If Vela is not started then I think he should be brought on with around half an hour at least remaining so that he has ample time to make a big mark and as we have seen in recent matches he should play an important role in getting a result from the game if it’s not over yet when he comes on.

Keeping in mind the form of the two sides, I expect a 2-0 win for Arsenal if Hull don’t come out just to defend otherwise if they do so then probably Arsenal will come out with yet another 1-0 win. Lets hope whatever the scoreline be, Arsenal get the important 3 points.