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Relief for everyone

It’s a merry-go-round of misses for Arsenal forwards this past 7 days. After Bendtner’s fluffs last weekend, it’s Arshavin’s turn today against Hull. If my memory serves me right, there were 3 clear cut chances when the ball found him inside the penalty box but none of those shots were on target, let alone hitting the back of the net. Bendtner saved the day when we were lacklustre on the pitch and thus keeping us within distance of Chelsea and United. However, it should not have come to that.

Arsenal were rampant from the kick-off and the pressure paid off when Arshavin wriggled his way past 2 Hull players and luck was with him as the ball took a couple of deflections and fell right in the path of the Russian to slammed in the opening goal. However the luck soon ran out as he had chances after chances to put the game to bed but failed to capitalise on his team mates’ good work. That he stayed on the pitch while Nasri was substituted out was a puzzling one for me. Apart from the goal, Arshavin was once again sloppy with his passing and really contributed nought to the Arsenal cause tonight. Yes, he scored but otherwise had a miserable outing.

Hull were really on the back foot in the first half but still managed to equalised thanks to some generous refereeing. The initial ball to Vennegoor of Hesselink was a clear offside, which the official failed to pick up. From that, the Dutchman was always looking for the contact from Sol Campbell. The former put his body between Campbell and the ball but was already on his way down before contact was even made. Soft one for me but play should have been stopped for the earlier offside call.

Then came the moment which should have changed the face of the game but as they say, it is harder to play against 10 than 11. George Boateng got involved in some tangling with Bendtner and what ensued was some pushing and shoving. However, how the referee can book him and Bendtner for the altercation is beyond me. If the linesman had picked up the incident, he should have also seen how Boateng was hugging Bendtner’s leg and put his hand on the Dane’s face first. Stupidly, Boateng then got himself sent off for a stamp on Sagna. Luckily nothing serious happened and Sagna was able to finish the match. That tackle could’ve easily been the same outcome as the Ramsey incident.

If you thought that with the advantage in numbers, Arsenal would go on in the second half and really go on the assault on Hull’ goal to grab the winner. If you think so, then you and I are both wrong. Somehow, the extra gear was not found in the second half. Boaz Myhill had practically nothing to do in the entire half even though we were hogging all the ball possession. The ball was played wide, right and left but without much effect. When the ball do come in from crosses, it was either to far or too short. The execution from corners was also very disappointing from Arshavin.

The notion that Campbell should have suffered the same fate as Boateng to go in for an early bath can not be more wrong. The Arsenal defender not only went in for the challenge in the right way but also got the ball first. Look at the replay and tell me that Zayatte’s foot was not high in that challenge. Such is the irony of things that Campbell was unhurt in the challenge and Zayatte came off worse from it.

Thankfully the winner came right at the death. Those 6 minutes of extra time seemed very long and could well ensure we stay in the fight for the championship. Denilson, who was peripheral at best in his performance today, found himself with space outside of the penalty box and unleashed a straight but venomous shot. Myhill could only deflect the ball into the path of the on-rushing Bendtner who could not miss from there. That’s 7 goals in 6 games (Arsenal and Denmark) for Bendtner. Joy and massive relief all around.

Is this the mark of true champions? Winning even when we played badly? On one hand, we were horrible today and do not deserve the win but a win is what it is. At the end of the day, those 3 points are still what matters. However this type of games are not for the faint hearted. So, I will say this. We grind out the result. We are still in the hunt. Good win.

Till tomorrow. Time to rest the heart.