below-par Arsenal managed to pluck a priceless victory at the KC Stadium on Saturday.

Andrey Arshavin had given the Gunners an early lead but a dubious penalty kick was awarded to the hosts through which Bullard equalized.

George Boateng had been sent off before half-time but a lethargic Arsenal failed to unlock ten-man Tigers’ resistance after the break and it took until deep into injury time to find the breakthrough as Bendtner rebounded home off Denilson’s saved effort.

Unlike Tuesday’s drubbing of Porto, today’s victory was not through a vintage Arsenal display but when it comes to the title race, the ‘V word’ is often ‘vital’ rather than ‘vintage’.

Following an evenly energetic start from either side, Arsenal struck first in the 14th minute when Arshavin danced his way through a pair of Hull defenders to toe-poke the ball past ‘keeper Boaz Myhill. That goal came with a lot of numbers. It was the Russian’s 11th of the season, Arsenal’s 100th of 2009/10 and 800th since the Premier League began.

14 minutes later, Arsenal were pegged back.

Marney teed up an offside Vennegoor of Hesselink in the 28th minute and the striker, right in front of goal, made the most of Campbell’s contact to earn his side a penalty kick.

Jimmy Bullard stepped up and thumped the ball home from the spot as Arsenal were forced to regain ascendancy. And despite George Boateng’s sending off for a second bookable offense just before half-time, the Gunners  stuttered in finding a second goal.

After a low-key start to the second half, during which Arsenal failed to make inroads into their numerically inferior opponents, Theo Walcott was introduced at the expense of Eboue.

The winger almost made an immediate impact, bursting down the right before producing a cross that found its way to Arshavin via a touch from Samir Nasri, but the Russian embarrassingly ballooned his shot over.

Hull continued to look good value for a point and even dared for an unlikely winner as they pressured Arsenal in a late spell which saw them win their first corner kick of the half.

As Phil Brown ordered his men to shut up shop, Arsene Wenger tried to fire some sort of urgency into his jaded side with Eduardo replacing Nasri. All the touchline shakes and moves from Wenger looked to have back fired at this point, as those on the pitch slow down tempo.

Into injury time, it had to take a heavy mistake, a case of fortune or a moment of brilliance for Arsenal to secure three points today. The spirited visitors would not undo their hard work with any late mistake, so it was up to Arsenal to utilize their brilliance or find some fortune. Denilson tried to provide the former while Bendtner was at the latter.

The Brazilian sent in a ferocious long-range effort which forced Myhill to palm the ball straight into the path of a lurking Bendnter who pounced home the winner.

It was in the ‘Nick’ of time. Subscribe to feed


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