Good afternoon Positive Arsenal,
A 0-0 draw against the Championship leaders was certainly not the result that I and probably any Arsenal fans were expecting, and it would have been the hardest of Hull die-hards that have predicted they would escape from the Ems with draw. But there we are, that is football, ever unpredictable. The underdogs sometimes have their day, and as often is these they earn their reward through hard work, playing to the limit of their abilities, and with a sprinkling of luck. So it was for the East Yorkshire side today. The term often used about a 0-0 draw is “stalemate”. The game was never stalemate, and into the 95th minute the result could have been ours. Entertaining, played in a good spirit. No obvious injuries and no red cards for either side. Most welcome.
Of our own lads I thought everyone put in a good effort. Six of our usual starting side rested and three more on the bench but I was impressed with what we produced. Defensively we were just about rock solid with the visitors barely able to get a strike on target from open play. The occasional free kick that gave them the chance to bring up their tall defenders we nullified early and decisively by Kosc and Per. The Flamster and Elneny worked well together, moving the ball forward and picking passes. Alex Iwobi had another confident 70 minutes, further forward and probably more influential than against Burnley though with less space and time today. Theo started well although he faded later I thought. Joel and Danny looked bright, with the latter looking surprisingly fit after his long lay off. Last week the substitutions resulted in the perfect turnaround against the resolute Leicester defence, this week the three early changes brought no such lever to overturn the visitors.
Clearly the gaping chasm of the afternoon, the abyss into which Arsenal fans on social media are flinging themselves like lemmings as I type, is lack of early afternoon activity for the scorer, that the goals ‘for’ column ended the day as blank as it started. We got so near so often, yet could not quite make that final breakthrough. The afternoon demanded was that unpredictable goal, like the screamer that started our success against Burnley from Callum Chambers. Such thunderbolts do not arrive to order.
As for Hull a very decent team performance from all their players, with the City goal-keeper yet again the cherry on the cake of their particular display. It would be a hard heart that did not acknowledge Steve Bruce’s spots of luck in the face of 90 minutes of almost unrelenting Arsenal pressure. We were Jakupović’ed today, as we had been Forster’ed and Schmeichel’ed recently. Thank God Hull did not play their first choice keeper MacGregor or we might really have found it tough to get the opener.
The sure consolation I have is that one day a goalkeeper will visit the Emirates who will have a nightmare of a display from minute 1 to minute 90. (Manuel Neuer may have fulfilled that Faustian transaction earlier in the season but I am unconvinced).
The second aspect of today’s result that appear to be causing some consternation among the Arsenal faithful is the fact that we will be playing a replay at the KC, as you do. Presumably we will be playing a similar side to that we played today, with a lot of players rested, and the opportunity for the likes of Elneny, Chambers, Gibbs, Alex Iwobi and even Theo to get some game time that otherwise they would not enjoy. Unless Steve Bruce changes his priorities the home side will also be adapted to met their other commitments in a busy schedule. I note the jumping up and down has started about the actual date of the replay! I am looking forward to the tie. Both clubs are busy, both are vying for their respective honours. We have better players, and more of them. I enjoy watching Arsenal. Bring it on.
Enjoy your Saturday and the remainder of the weekend. DC will be our man with the biro on Tuesday.