By Randy Osae
Hull stunned Arsenal with an astonishing comeback on one excruciating day at the Emirates stadium. The inflicted result was also the most damaging of all – a 2-1 defeat at home and a quick fall from top spot.
Only West Ham, nearly two seasons ago, had ever escaped Arsenal’s new territory with all three points. Well, the “heroic” Tigers did so in absolutely agonizing fashion.
After seeing respective victories from Chelsea and Liverpool displace the Gunners’ position on the table, Wenger intended not to use the ‘impressive kids’ theory for this league clash and so made 11 changes from the youthful side that thrashed Sheffield United in the Carling Cup. Incidentally, that was the first time an Arsenal line-up had been fully changed since 1988.
Despite the constant pile of Arsenal’s attacking pressure, nothing really came near goal-bound in the first-half. As usual, on the break of Arsenal’s miss, Hull quickly counter-attacked, with Giovanni mainly on the edge of that. Even Arsenal’s mid-week Carling Cup kids were likened to have played better as the first team had been disappointing in attack.
Fabregas and Walcott were caught delayed and confused right in front of goal – the Spaniard was dribbling from four yards out and eventually passed in vain, while Walcott was too careful to shoot. The closest Arsenal came before half-time was Eboue’s effort from the left which was deflected just wide off the side net by Paul McShane.
After that typical lack-luster show, it was no surprise the only source of goal for the Gunners was from a lucky scramble. Early into the second-half, a much urgently-minded Arsenal injection saw Theo Walcott cross from close range after a trademark swift run on the left. The ball slipped to Adebayor in an acute position but Fabregas was there to poke it off McShane’s clumsy legs. And the Emirates stadium roared with relief. But agony was on it’s way.
Arsenal had clear-cut opportunities to increase their lead with Eboue, Adebayor and Van Persie all having a go a few steps away from the goalkeeper, but it all went awfully wide.
Traditionally – especially last season and before – Arsenal are not trusted with 1-0 leads unless they cement it, and contrary to those late agonizing equalizers which came if they failed to finish off games, this one from Hull did not take too long.
A little space on the left of Arsenal’s area saw Giovanni take advantage to unleash a stunning but sensational strike to the top left corner of Manuel Almunia’s net. Short moments after, Hull earned a corner. Their fans suddenly cheered as Andy Dawson swung it for Daniel Cousin to easily head straight over Fabregas who was guarding the net. Toure and Gallas were all over Cousin when he put the visitors into a dreamworld with that 2-1 lead.
Such a scoreline is not rare at the Emirates as long as the final whistle had not gone. Last season, Aston Villa, Middlesborough and Manchster United were all in that upper-hand position at the Emirates with seconds to go. Eventually, the Gunners showed resilience to rescue a point.
But it wasn’t to be today, as the likes of Nicklas Bendnter and Carlos Vela were introduced to help that inevitability of saving the blushes. Numerous chances flew, even with Gallas heading against the cross bar and Fabregas fiercely hitting two goal-bound long range shots which were denied by Myhill.
And it stayed like that till the end. Hull had become only the second team to defeat Arsenal at the Emirates stadium since their move in 2006. This result was blatantly based on the performance only – Hull’s incredible courage and Arsenal’s lack of fatal blow.