In a weekend which saw both Man United and Liverpool lose again (in what is looking like one of the most craziest Premier League seasons ever)… it was essential that we took the three points against Hull to ensure we could gain some ground on the top. And that’s exactly what we did. In a game where we had quite a few of our players out, our captain Cesc, our two main strikers in Robin Van Persie and Niklas Bendtner and all three of our left backs, Clichy, Gibbs and Traore (not to mention Rosicky and Djourou)…
Our starting line up was:
Eboue – Gallas – Vermaelen – Silvestre
Denilson – Song
Eduardo – Diaby – Nasri
It was an interesting initial line up, and we saw Eduardo, Arshavin and Diaby rotate themselves in those three positions. Arsene has done well to choose when to rest Sagna this season and Eboue came in again in a game which made sense to have the Ivorian take part – Eboue does bring a certain amount of pace and attack that Sagna doesn’t have, whilst Sagna does bring an aerial presence, a defensive thought process and a more refined play.
The first half was a little more scrappy than I’d like to have seen it – Hull were over physical and very defensive minded, with 10 men behind the ball at all times. One player in particular – Hunt – was really over the top – and twice went into Almunia. And it was the same player who was very much involved in a massive tussle where Silvestre had to hold back about 5 players. And if Hunt had been booked for any of those two challenges against Almunia, he would have been sent off.
Denilson took the resulting free kick and what a free kick it was. It was so good that I thought I’d locate it on YouTube so you could play it again and again:
And apparently Denilson wasn’t planning on taking the free kick…
“Denilson is not a free kick specialist. I was quite surprised, he was not specially named because it was Nasri who was going to take it and he took it well. I thought first he wanted to cross the ball but he scored. It changed the game.”
So, we’ve discovered a new free kick taker – and he’s scored more free kick than Robin has all season! Ahem… yes I know! And it was a lead that we really deserved. We had another minute or so for the first half but all in all, we definitely deserved to be up 1-0.
One thing that was prevalent was that we weren’t playing as well as we could have in the first half. Our passing wasn’t spot on, so I did expect a better performance in the second half. And that exactly what we got. We started the second half as a team with a purpose to get the second goal. We looked to be quicker and generally more focused on our game.
But Hull had a spot of luck when Silvestre man handled one of their strikers in the box and Hull were awarded a penalty. Almunia has come under some criticism recently, but he pulled off a remarkable save to keep the score at 1-0.
And from that point onwards we looked to turn up the level and it wasn’t too long until we took the lead. Some good play down the left and a sweet one two with Song and Diaby saw the Frenchman square the ball for Eduardo to tap the ball in an open goal. Diaby managed to get on the score sheet too with some excellent play going forward and another sweet one two – this time with Arshavin – and the Frenchman finished with aplomb…
Let’s take a listen to Arsene about the game:
“We had to fight. We had problems a little bit to start because we left a lot of physical strength in our last two games at Liverpool and Burnley on Wednesday night and it took us some time to get into the game and to find the pace. In the first half we didn’t look very fresh but we got in front and in the second half I believe even if it was a turning point with the penalty they missed, to me the penalty looked really, really harsh and we scored straight away a second goal and we had plenty of chances after.”
So after three points at Liverpool, three points at home yesterday and a decent draw midweek, we’re still in the hunt. United and Liverpool seem to be losing games now against opposition you wouldn’t expect and West Ham managed to keep Chelsea to a draw…
So, we’re 6 points behind them, 3 if we win our game in hand. A win at Stamford Bridge and the title is ours!