The stuff of Champions?
Do Champions win every game convincingly? No. Do they have to bury teams inside 5 minutes? No. Are the 3 points all that matter? YES!
Arsenal delivered the type of match winning performance usually reserved for the United’s of this world. At 1-1, things were looking precarious. The ref flashed up 6 minutes on the board and there was hope…
We started the game very well, some superb running by Sagna allowed Bendtner to play Arshavin in on the edge of the box, the Russian still had it all to do, deciding the best way to breach their defence was to force his way through, which he did, then he poked it past Myhill. A great goal to kick the match off.
It didn’t take long for things to turn sour, they always seem to in the North. Hesselink was played in with a ball that was dinked over the defence, he was clearly offside, but that was missed, in an attempt to get back, Campbell brushed the striker who fell in a very unsporting manner and the penalty was awarded (plus a yellow card). Bullard converted with ease despite Almunia guessing the right way.
*Denilson scythed down cynically by Dawson.
*Bendtner poked in the eye unprovoked by Boateng
*Sagna crunched on the knee by a high Boateng challenge, red card awarded.
It’s always harder to break 10 men down, so I won’t buy into the theory that we should have expected a trashing after they went a man down.
Campbell threw himself into a challenge with Zayate, won the ball with the Hull player going over the top of him. The player unfortunately had to go off. Hull City unbelievably bring the player out on crutches to prove a point! How pathetic can one club be!
Theo Walcott came on and changed things up a little, his pace was put to immediate use as he bounded into the box, cut it back to Nasri, who laid it off to Arhavin who spooned it over like he did against Burnley last week! Terribly lax finishing.
The best chance fell to Nik B after Arshavin ran at the Hull defence, found an opening out wide for Theo who cut the ball only for Nik to take a touch when he should have buried it first time. I could imagine what his detractors were thinking, salivating at the prospect of Wednesday being an anomaly.
The 93rd minute approached, Arsenal had tried in vain to cross Hull to death to no effect, Sagna played Denilson in, from 35 yard the Brazilian lashed a fearsome shot at the Hull City goal, Myhill parried straight back out where Bendtner was on hand to return it back into the keepers net!
Cue pandemonium in the pub. I knocked a Spurs fan over, smashed 3 glasses and nearly got my head caved in by at least 2 angry people. But it was worth it. That goal was the stuff of Champions, I tweeted that we had to keep the faith until the end, I kept the faith along with all the Chelsea and West Ham fans (<- Joke) in the pub and I was repaid!
We faced a team we don’t like to play on a nasty pitch, in a nasty place after a tough mid-week game. This result cannot be down played. Just because Hull are down the bottom, it doesn’t mean they’re not capable of turning good teams over. We kept our dreams alive playing with grit, determination and a stubborn refusal to give up. Our play wasn’t as slick as normal, but that doesn’t mean the desire wasn’t there. Sometimes you have to credit the oppositions tactics. Hull were good at stifling today.
Arsenal now face the appalling West Ham next and I fully expect us to keep the dream alive. It’s time for Gooners to stop moaning about the performances or the playing staff. We’ve got who we’ve got and 3 points is all that matters from now until the end of the season. If you can’t enjoy days like yesterday, then what’s the point?
I don’t remember a season stocked full of so many extreme emotions, if we turn this one around it’ll go down as one of the greatest league wins of the past 20 years… because we really shouldn’t be in this!
Keep the faith Grovers, I think we’re on the verge of something special!
Player ratings (Beer induced)
Almunia: Didn’t put a foot wrong today, no chance for the penalty. 7
Sagna: I thought he had a great game going forward and defending. 7
Sol Campbell: A good game from the big man at the back. He puts his body on the line and leads through example. 8
Verminator: Superb as always, a true professional and a leader in the making. 8
Clichy: Slowly getting back to his best, a good job, can’t remember anything howlerish? 7
Denilson: He fired off the shot that led to us winning the game, for that, I am indebted. Overall though, he gave the ball away quite a bit and his passing was often misguided. His biggest weakness is his physicality, it’s disgraceful that hasn’t been addressed in the gym. He did make some timely interceptions today, so not all bad. 6
Eboue: I don’t think he had a stand out game today, failed to really get into the match. Largely rendered impotent by Hull. 6
Nasri: Much quieter, he wasn’t allowed to play in the free flowing way he was against Porto. Still kept things ticking over though and he worked hard. He did look tired though. 7
Diaby: A few were critical of Diaby after the game, not me though. His work rate and ability to keep the ball moving made him one of the stand out performers today. He can’t always be the flashy box to box player we want to see, when he’s not, he needs to do a job for the team. That’s what he did today. 7.5
Arshavin: Poor finishing is all I can say bad about him today. Some say I’m blinkered when it comes to the Russian, maybe I am, he’s one of my favourites. Some people don’t like flashy players getting credit, well, tough. Flashy players catch the eye and pull moments of magic out the bag that win you titles. I can’t remember Bergkamp doing his bit for the defence? Arsh spiced up our attack today, his runs caused Hull alsorts of problems and his goal was pivotal for us. A good game overall. 8
Bendtner: Not his finest performance in an Arsenal shirt, but an important one. He set up the Andrey goal and scored one of the most important goals of 2010. He offers height up front and gives us an outlet. He’s got to get more instinct involved with his finishing and he definitely has to tighten up that first touch, but overall, he’s becoming that striker we were all clamoring for in January. I’m hoping to see membership to NBAS (Nik Bendtner Appreciation Society) rise rapidly over the coming weeks!
Stat courtesy of Pat:
But the truth is, the Gunners are better with Bendtner. Arsenal have won a whopping 76 percent of the last 50 games in which he has played over 60 minutes, according to Bettorlogic.com. That’s compared to a dismal 52 percent without him.
See you in the comments!
P.S. Thanks for your support with the T-shirts. The stock has arrived (They look fantastic) and the shirts will be despatched this week, check them out if you haven’t already here.