When Daniel Cousin’s bullet header from a Bernard Mendy cross smashed into Manuel Almunia’s goal, it was no more than Hull City deserved from a spirited, and, at times, stylish performance against a visiting Arsenal team bent on revenge for the 2-1 reverse they suffered at home to the Tigers in September.
Times have changed with a vengeance for City from those heady late summer days, and we came into this game on the back of a run that saw only one win garnered in the League in the last twelve outings.
There is no escaping the fact that, despite sitting eighth in the table, the Tigers are well and truly involved in a relegation dog fight, something that, if we are honest, we all expected at the start of this amazing season.
I was mightily impressed with the signing of 92-time internationally capped Kevin Kilbane, and there were signs of a handy little partnership down the left hand side with Peter Halmosi developing, until the Hungarian made way for Manchester United loanee Manucho. The Angolan striker is tall, strong, and possesses the necessary quality first touch required at this level.
And that was where City were sadly lacking.
We just don’t have that quality, particularly in central midfield, where the player should be capable of assessing the options available to him before he receives the ball, as it is a given that he will bring it under control without a thought.
Our middle of the park pairing tonight consisted of Ian Ashbee and Ryan France, both game lads who worked their socks off. However, when you consider that these two lined up for us in the fourth tier and were faced today by Samir Nasri and Denilson, its not hard to see why Cousin and Geovanni found possession in areas where they could hurt the visitors hard to come by, as the home team seemed incapable of building a controlled pattern to their play.
But when City did have a period of domination early in the second half, they made it count, despite having conceded on thirty minutes when, inexplicably, Adebayor was allowed a free header on the back stick, which he planted firmly past a helpless Myhill.
With ten minutes remaining, Arsenal never really threatened at the business end of the pitch, and the foul conditions brought on by heavy rain seemed to make them hesitant.
When a raking City cross-field pass was brilliantly intercepted, the Gunners broke down the right hand side at pace, Van Persie supplied the killer ball across the box which was dispatched with clinical efficiency by Nasri.
The third goal scored by Nicklas Bentner included a blatant offside, but Arsenal were worthy winners on the night.
Nevertheless, the visitors visibly went into their collective shell when the going got tough, and I saw little of that famous Arsenal spirit of togetherness which was instilled by George Graham and nurtured by Wenger in his early days.
As such, a real assault on the Premier League summit seems unlikely this season unless the Gunners boss is prepared to splash the cash in the transfer window.
Just prior to Cousins' goal, Manucho was challenged in the air for the ball by Gunners full back Djourou, who won the ball. There was a coming together, and the Tigers forward came off the worst.
Phil Brown’s reaction to the media was poor in the extreme. and as a former stopper in the “uncompromising” category, his assertion that; “it's not a penalty, it's assault” will see us lose the sympathy of the neutral fan.
City lost because the other team scored more goals, not because Alan Wiley was against the home team, and Brown should be big enough to take responsibility and encourage the players to do the same.
We are a decent side, and it is what we do against the other teams outside the top six that will determine our fate.