Arsenal played host to Hull City this weekend after the two sides last met at the FA Cup fnal back in May.
No extra-time in League games meant we could only manage a repeat performance of our 90 minutes against same Hull last May.
It was a game we knew we had to win to set our campaign rolling on title form. After getting appetized with City’s romp of Spurs, we all expected to relax and watch our team do same against Hull.
For the first 20 minutes, it looked like we were actually on course for a thrilling day.
Quick passes, mostly driven by Jack Wilshere, saw good movements in every corner of the pitch from all players. Alexis got to the by-line and played an inviting chip into the box but Wilshere could not direct his contact. Soon after, Welbeck had a shot straight at Harper from a long ball which he managed to control. Having watched a certain Argentine put half chances away in the earlier kick-off, you kind of expected Welbeck to do a bit more, probably reach for the second bar. However, we were really pressing Hull so hard they hardly had the ball outside their half within the period. Harper made a wonderful flying save to his left to deny Santi Cazorla’s sweetly struck right-footed drive.
Not long after, though, the inevitable lead came, from the one player who you could vote will score from hardwork.
Playing on the right, Alexis’ nippy feet and a swivel of the hip helped him glide past James Chester and while we all – Harper inclusive – thought he’d looked up to find a teammate, the excellent Chilean struck it low and hard into the bottom corner to give us a deserved lead. But for a little unsteadiness in his footing, he would have made better contact with Chamberlain’s cut-back to extend the lead.
As so often seems to be the case, complacency got the better of us and we got hit on the break.
Mo’ Diame has made an excellent start to his new adventure away from West Ham, and after scoring against the Hammers some games ago, the Senegalese powered his way past the Arsenal defence to equalize for Hull. Flamini’s resistance of Diame’s tug was soft, and since he was able to still make a touch, he should have kicked it away from the goal mouth while making his protest to Referee Roger East. The Tempo of the Arsenal attack had understandably been hit as nothing much of note happened till after the break when Mertesacker’s sleepiness granted a significantly smaller Abel Hernandez the chance to rise to head in a glorious lead for Steve Bruce’s side.
It felt like May 17 all over again.
Wilshere’s clattering with a Hull player saw him come off for Joel Campbell and while the Costa Rican should probably have done more with his chances in the box, his freshness – coupled with the pace of the hugely impressive Hector Bellerin – was an added stretch to the Hull resistance.
In the end, an Alexis magic set-up saved us from what would have been quite a calamity, to put it mildy.
Welbeck has described it as “bittersweet”, surely because he got a goal, and as much as we needed a win to keep up with Chelsea and Southampton at the top, going into the Champions League away to Anderlecht we needed not to lose.
Just only 90 points to play for now.
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