Hull played a 4-5-1 with an isolated Cousin up front who worked hard enough but received little or no service. Inside the first quarter of an hour Adebayor won a free kick as he was tripped on a run down the middle. Robin took it and his shot from about 33 yards out (sorry I haven't gone metric for free kicks yet) was deflected past the post for a corner. Apart form a wild shot by Cousin following a break Hull showed us little or nothing, but we were not exactly setting the world on fire. 'One Arsene Wenger' rang out from the travelling fans who kept up a good volume and decent tempo throughout the game. Unlike our players who didn't flow, rarely hit a rhythm and didn't blitz Hull too often. We were in control but without the cutting edge.
'Who's that team we call the Arsenal'. By the 25th minute the possession stats were 61% to Arsenal and we had taken full control of the game without managing to show anything too emphatic. Eboue won us a free kick, he'd done little else up to this point, it was in van Persie territory. Robin fired it in well but Myhill got his finger tips to it and it came back off the bar. Johan at the far post followed up but couldn't get there in the scramble, he felt he was impeded by Alan Wiley didn't. The corner was followed by Arsenal pressure and another corner, this time won by Eboue. The ball in from van Persie was a perfect far post cross, Adebayor soared high and headed perfectly inside the far post. Great ball in, great header, great goal. 0-1 Arsenal on about the half hour mark.
Arsenal upped the ante and ploughed forward as we won yet more corners. Following another fine move Ade on the left found Eboue in space who missed a sitter, he was never set for it and I really don't see the point of him getting into to such positions. A bad miss after which his game deteriorated. Djourou looked in control when ever Hull could muster anything but in truth they were looking less and less impressive as the half went on. Nasri had an attempt blocked but we really looked to only be in second gear as the Hull foul count grew. 'We love you Arsenal we do'. Half time then with a deserved lead but for all our possession there had been few killer moves and we'd been far more dangerous from our set plays than anything else.
Arsenal kicked off the second half towards the travelling Gooners. Arsenal upped the pressure immediately and both Gael And Abou were snapping into tackles in the Hull half. A left footed shot (collectors item?) by Ade was parried by Myhill. A crap cross by Eboue sailed behind their goal. Halmosi was substituted by a young Angolan loanee from the Mancs called Manucho as Eboue lost the ball again. Hull changed to a 4-4-2 with Giovani going wide left.
Manucho won a free kick that was wasted by Kilbane. An iffy moment when what seemed an accidental collision between Djourou and Manucho ended with Manucho on the deck with a swollen eye, while some Hull players appealed for the penalty. Hull were back on the radar and we needed a second goal.
On the 62nd minute we were shown some pass completion stats. Arsenal 240 - Hull 91, but we still needed a second goal. Three passages of play made me wonder why Eboue was still on the field. First he over hit a long pass, the next attack he killed the move with a poor cross and to follow that he passed to a Hull player in our half. But Clichy topped that by standing off his man then deflecting the cross to the head of Cousin who headed home. 1-1 and for a while Clichy's game fell apart. Next up as the wind got worse and the rain became fairly horizontal Clichy picked up a yellow card that means he misses our cup tie in Cardiff.
Bendtner replaced Eboue about twenty-five minutes later he should have done. Van Persie fired low but wide from another free kick in his sort of territory. Other than to give away a free kick Diaby now had on his invisibility cloak, he was as anonymous as Eboue had been ineffective. We needed something soon as we clawed our way back into positive mode. Ashbee was tripped for a trip on Robin, or more probably his accumulation of fouls. A good Clichy cross. Great skill by Nasri. Then Bendtner from the right to Robin in the middle, who slotted in Samir on the left who took a well aimed left-footed shot towards the far post and it nestled in the net perfectly. 1-2 Arsenal in the 81st minute. Not as late as Villa, United or Chelsea left it today, but late enough.
Fagan on for France. A corner for Hull as Gael appeared still not to be at the races. A scuffed shot from Hull was a relief. Arsenal pressed then took it back to Almunia in a safety first exercise. More pressure from Arsenal as Robin and Nicolas combined with the old one-twos for Nic to slot home our third. 1-3 Arsenal after 86 minutes.
We were well worthy of the win but why did we have to make such hard work of it? Song on for Ade and Garcia on for Geovannni. Four minutes added time, which was time enough for our defence to have another flap. Some great ball control by Nasri, this has to be one of his best away performances. Finally a brilliant cross by Clichy which Bendtner headed against the post. So at the end of the day we could have had five, but might just have easily thrown away two points. To complain however would be churlish because we deserved this and took all three goals well. With three assists it has to be Robin for me as the man of the match. He was total quality throughout.
Out of ten? I'd give them as follows: Almunia 7, Sagna 7, Toure 7, Djourou 7, Clichy 5.5. Eboue 4.5, Denilson 7, Diaby 6, Nasri 7.5, van Persie 8, Adebayor 6.5.