By Randy Osae
Always deserved, but the chronic 1-0 was never enough this time as late clinchers from Nasri and Bendtner had to relieve off scares of another Daniel Cousin peg back.
Today had the makings of another turning point in the title race but over it was to Arsenal once they arrived at the KC stadium after title rivals cut slices of luck to snatch points at death. Wenger’s men though, did survive a jittery Hull test while imposing some revenge despite their position staying unchanged on the table.
Arsene Wenger kept the same line-up that began last weekend while Alex Song returned to fitness to join the bench.
Hull City were ludicrously chasing a league double over Arsenal and their intentions were blatant right after kicking off. Indeed Arsenal could have conceded through series of corner kicks the hosts caused during the fresh seconds of the match.
Geovanni then tested Almunia with a looping free-kick that almost forced Arsenal’s stopper entering the net with the ball. That had been an initial 20 minutes of typical Arsenal callowness during these delicate nights away from home.
One man though, Robin van Persie was always eager to convert Arsenal’s cagey looks and his outstanding free-kick from a favorite left angle struck the post with Djourou’s follow-up deemed harmless.
But he had to make consolations quick and Van Persie’s well taken corner was headed home with aplomb by Emmanuel Adebayor to give Arsenal an integral lead as always.
Eboue then benefited from a cut back by Arsenal’s goal scorer with freedom in the box, but the Ivorian toe-poked it wide. That had been the smoothest of fluid openings Arsenal had created in search of a comforting second goal but it never came and at half-time, this was a game still at stake.
Arsenal resumed their bossing in the second-half and squandered efforts which left Phil Brown’s side hanging on with a lifeline.
The hosts made some reshuffling after the introduction of on-loan Manchester United ace Manucho and the Angolan proved thorny for Arsenal defense. Soon after, he was found in the penalty box but only an unwitting head butt from Djourou stopped him from an attempt to hit an equalizer.
Once they had never been slayed by Arsenal, Hull kept on contemplating a leveler and Clichy failed to close down Mendy to avoid a cross from the left which was headed past Almunia by Daniel Cousin.
If anything, their rally four months ago to sink Arsenal were painfully reminisced and Wenger’s immediate move would be Eboue coming off for last weekend’s savior, Nicklas Bendtner.
Clichy’s havoc at left back against Mendy saw the Frenchman booked for the fifth time this season which implies a one match ban. The resulting free-kick also strained the Gunners, but they came through a spell of Hull’s resurgence.
Then was the call for Arsenal’s match winners. And arguably the two most likely men – Nasri and Van Persie combined well to deliver. The latter sent in a clinical pass that found Nasri unmarked and the Frenchman unleashed an equally accomplished finish with his weaker foot to silence the home crowd.
Hull fancied themselves still in with a fight, and were not butchered until another Bendtner notch from the bench four minutes from time. Again, Van Persie was the creator as the Dane swept the ball home with Hull baffled by Arsenal’s passes.
Bendtner could have completed a remarkable substitute’s brace had his header onto Clichy’s cross not struck the post in injury time. That was incidentally the 12th time Arsenal had been denied by the woodwork this season – more than any other club.
But victory had been already assured.