Hull 1 (Cousin 65) Arsenal 3 (Adebayor 30, Nasri 82, Bendtner 86)
At around half four this afternoon, it was looking like a perfect afternoon for Arsenal. Bolton were holding a United side struggling to create chances, Chelsea were unthinkably losing at home to Stoke and becoming eminently catchable, while Villa were level at Sunderland but down to ten men after Ashley Young’s over the top challenge.
At the time, it looked as if we could get right back in the mix, but after all three turned it around to win, we went into the Hull game six points outside the top four. What had been going so well was rapidly turning into a potential nightmare.
So when Cousin equalised Adebayor’s first half goal, it seemed those fears were about to be realised. I have no idea what Clichy had in his head in those moments – he backed away from a long ball, stood off Mendy, and then deflected the cross into the ball of Cousin, who repeated his goal from September to peg us back.
It had been going well up to that point. Van Persie, surely in the form of his Arsenal career, had one free kick deflected wide and another tipped onto the crossbar before his corner found Adebayor unmarked, six yards out. The big man made no mistake and for the rest of the first half,we were comfortable.
But in the second, we eased up, allowing Hull back into the game, and even before the equaliser Djourou was fortunate not to concede a penalty for clattering Manucho. After the game, Phil Brown was upset with the decision:
“Outside the box it is a free-kick, inside it is not a penalty. Astounding.”
And he’s right – had the incident been at the other end we would be saying the same thing. But soon after, Hull were level and we needed a response. Fortunately, and importantly, we got one.
And predictably, it was from our current talisman – Van Persie had three men around him when he received the ball on the edge of the box, but some wonderful footwork protected the ball and allowed him to find the unmarked Nasri, who steadied himself before lashing the ball into the corner. Minutes later it was all over when Bendtner played a one-two with the Dutchman, sweeping the ball home to finally seal the game.
He may not have scored himself, but Van Persie’s contribution today was magnificent. He provided the assist for all three goals, and without his creativity we wouldn’t have taken three points today. As it was, we matched the other big sides by winning in the final ten minutes. Instead of us feeling sick about late goals earlier in the day, it is Liverpool that must be most frustrated.
We’re eight matches unbeaten now, and within a few points of both Villa and Chelsea. Neither are convincing at the moment – Chelsea have been below par for ages, while Villa may be winning but they are requiring huge slices of luck to do so. Today was no exception. But if we keep on in the manner we’ve shown over the last couple of weeks, we’ll be okay.
Keep the faith.