For forty odd minutes, this was about as enjoyable to watch as an ITV special entitled ‘An Audience with Steve McClaren’. Then Arsenal were sparked in to life by the sort of antics that made our most successful teams infamous.
After a free-kick was awarded some thirty yards out, Samir Nasri deliberately trod on the foot of Richard Garcia. This sparked a melee in which Nick Barmby raised his hands to the Frenchman while the likes of Song, Silvestre and Arshavin attempted to play peace-keeper.
Nasri’s petulance could see him charged. Whilst a three game ban would be irritating in the extreme, his spikiness doubtless sparked us in to a performance. Before half-time we had squeaked in to an undeserved lead. Another free-kick was awarded within shooting range, but Denilson lined up behind it. As the Emirates heaved a collective sigh, the Brazilian reminded us all of his national heritage by stepping up and curling a lovely effort over the wall and in to the net. One can only assume he was trying to cross. Seriously though, a marvellous strike and just what was needed to break the deadlock in a stagnant first-half.
The game turned on a couple of minutes not long in to the second half. Hull were awarded a penalty for alleged shirt-pulling by Silvestre. Geovanni stepped up but his poor effort was saved by Almunia. No matter, for the Brazilian seemed to be on hand to nod in the rebound – only for a diving header from team-mate Stephen Hunt to inexplicably prevent him from scoring.
We promptly went right up the other end and killed the game. A beautiful one-two between Diaby and Song ended with the former crossing for Eduardo to tap in from a yard. Hopefully that’ll give his confidence a boost.
Diaby was running riot and added the third himself, receiving Andrey Arshavin’s return pass, holding off the defender, and thumping a strike in off the keeper.
There could arguably have been more – sub Theo Walcott showed his pace to twice get in behind the defence, before showing his rustiness by missing on both occasions.
With Chelsea and United both dropping points it’s been another good weekend for Arsenal. Next week against Villa will provide a greater test.