Williams Gallas’ late and controversial header sent Arsenal through to the semi-finals as the Gunners came from behind to secure a hard-fought win over Hull City.
Arsenal have remembered how to win again. And they don’t want to forget it. Hull City tried everything in the book to get through; scored early, time wasted, made the occasional ugly challenge and on the whole defended valiantly but it was a refereeing indecision that ultimately denied the club a chance of a replay at least.
Nasri’s free kick was challenged by both Djourou and Myhill but as the linesman was unsure on who got the last chance, assuming it was the goalkeeper allowed the goal to stand as Gallas headed in. Replays showed Djourou had the last touch therefore the play was in its second phase and the goal should have been disallowed.
Hull City starting the game with more urgency and their gameplan was to nick the early goal, defend on it and counter when available. They pressured Arsenal and denied them space early on and where soon rewarded with the goal. Andy Dawson lifted the ball to Nick Barmby who’s shot took a looping deflection off Djourou, who had a shaky start, and past the hapless Fabianski. They could have went further behind after Barmby had a goal ruled out for offside after making a clever run but before that Giovanni forced a great save from Fabianski from a free-kick.
Arsenal pressed for the equaliser but were always lacking in the final third with crosses either over hit or to no one. Song and Diaby got plenty of the ball in the centre but a lack of movement in front of them meant they had to either play long or wide. Both Vela and Van Persie belied their status as support strikers as neither one looked to drop into the channel between midfield and attack, rather playing on the shoulder. It was until Arshavin started to come off the left flank Arsenak were starting to show a bit more guile and craft, the Russain’s shot cleared off the line by Ricketts. He and Gibbs complemented each other well with the left back able overlap and make good crosses.
Arsenal threw the kitchen sink at the game and became more direct, getting closer to the target as Van Persie headed on to the bar, Diaby wide and Song doing the same from crosses. But with 16 minutes remaining the Gunners found the equaliser, Bendtner’s sheer persistence and cutback found Arshavin, who was a picture of sheer coolness, played it back for Van Persie to fire in. The Russian was involved in most of Arsenal’s attacking play and displayed his leadership skills as well, telling Gibbs to get back to his position and stay focused in the celebrations. The coffin was dug by Van Persie and buried by Gallas, with a little help from the linesman as Arsenal go through to Wembley to face Chelsea.
Man of the Match: Andrey Arshavin
Arsenal:Fabianski, Sagna, Gallas, Djourou, Gibbs, Walcott (Eboue 82), Song Billong (Bendtner 64), Diaby, Vela (Nasri 64), Van Persie, Arshavin.
Subs Not Used: Mannone, Toure, Denilson, Silvestre.
Goals:Van Persie 74, Gallas 84.
Hull:Myhill, Ricketts, Gardner, Zayatte, Dawson, Ashbee (Hughes 46), Barmby (France 76), Geovanni, Fagan, Manucho, Halmosi (Mendy 67).
Subs Not Used: Duke, Garcia, Folan, Featherstone.
Booked:Halmosi, Myhill, Dawson, France, Manucho.
Ref: Mike Riley (Yorkshire).
|Arsenal||Team Statistics||Hull City|
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|8||Shots on Target||2|
|11||Shots off Target||4|