After a thumping Carling Cup win over Sheff Utd, there was a lot of talk in the build up to the Hull game about a similar scoreline being dished out by the more senior pros. A few warnings were given, especially given Hull’s excellent start to the campaign, but it seems the impression that they only had to turn up to win spread to the players themselves.
Because as well as Hull played (and they really did), the lack of commitment from the home team was nothing short of shameful at times. There was no drive, no passion, it was as if they were just waiting for the inevitable goals to come. When one finally arrived, it was an extremely fortunate own goal, and at that point it seemed that the match would be a breeze.
Only when Hull had completely turned the match on its head did some of the players seem to realise that they were even in a contest, and by then it was too late. A contender for goal of the season from Giovanni (who I predicted pre-season would keep Hull in the division), was followed by a trademark goal from a corner – not a Hull trademark, but an Arsenal one, a problem that really needs to be rectified. Hull had their tails up, and realising they were within sight of a stunning upset, fought for every ball even harder than before. Any commitment from the men in red was too little too late against a supremely organised team.
If it seems that I’m blaming everything on the Arsenal players, then that isn’t really fair. Phil Brown set his Hull side out to attack and cause the midfield diamond problems, especially Denilson, and it worked. Even when they conceded, they fought incredibly hard for ninety minutes, and really deserved the plaudits they got.
But had there been the same drive on both sides, the result could and should have been different. It isn’t acceptable to be so lacklustre in any game, not even against a newly promoted side, because unlike the Spanish league, anyone in this division can catch you out.
Our only hope is that this was a blessing in disguise, a wake up call that such a lack of focus cannot be repeated if we are to win anything of note this season. To play with this lack of spirit is poor once, if it happens again after this lesson then serious questions will have to be asked.