Premier League Preview: Arsenal vs. Hull City
Premier League Preview: Arsenal Vs Hull City, Emirates Stadium, London, Saturday, December 18th, 2009, 17:30GMT.
The Tigers return to the Emirates Stadium for the first time in the Premiership since their historic victory over Arsene Wenger's talented side. Hull City, the Premiership debutants last season took the game to the Gunners and won 2-1 with a glorious goal from the mercurial Brazilian Geovanni, and a brilliant header from Daniel Cousin, that wiped out Paul McShane's unfortunate own goal.
The Tiger's have visited the home of the Gunners since then, in the F.A. Cup but the result was slightly different for the East Yorkshire club. The Gunner's came out on top with a 2-1 victory but the scoreline flattered the home team. The Gunners were chasing the game and applying a considerable amount of pressure to get back in to the match after Nick Barmby's 13th minute lead.
However, with Wenger's wonderkids posing little actual threat on goal despite all their possession it took a little help from the referee and his assistant to gift them a Robin Van Persie goal from an off side position to draw level.
Arsenal's stepped it up a gear with only 15 minutes remaining and from a long forward punt from Gibbs, Gallas a mile off side latched on to the ball and scored. Unfortunately, for the luckless Tigers the referee and his assistant got it wrong again and it was goodnight Vienna for Hull City and the F.A. Cup for another year.
Things were to get ugly after the final whistle as Phil Brown, the Hull City boss accused Cesc Fabregas the injured Arsenal skipper, who marched on to the Arsenal pitch full of aggression, of spitting at the Tiger's assistant manager Brian Horton in the Arsenal tunnel.
Brown's accusation would ultimately be thrown out by the F.A. some months later for a lack of evidence but Saturday's fixture will be made all the more hostile for last season's incidents.
Arsene Wenger will have his work cut out due to the severe injury crisis his Gunners are under. He will be unable to call on the services of Nicklas Bendtner (hernia), Gael Clichy (back), Johan Djourou (knee), Cesc Fabregas (hamstring), Kieran Gibbs (foot), Tomas Rosicky (groin), and Robin van Persie (ankle).
However, he will be pleased that Denilson is back from a back injury but will have to give Armand Traore a late fitness test for his hamstring injury.
Hull City will still be without the services of club captain Ian Ashbee and influential play maker Jimmy Bullard who was key to the Tiger's recent resurgence. Brown will be delighted that he can recall Seyi Olofinjana to the first team after he was sidelined on international duty with Nigeria early last month.
Brown will also be pleased that Olofinjana as asked Nigeria if he can join up with his international teammates late for the African Cup Of Nations, to help the Tigers in their very difficult Christmas and New Year fixture list, that includes two fixtures against Manchester United and games against Tottenham Hotspurs and Chelsea.
Olifanjana told the BBC Look North, "I'm still trying to get an arrangement with them (Nigeria) and try and get delayed."
Wenger has also been unhappy about the current glut of matches that his Arseanl team have had to play and with no let up over Christmas and New Year his mood will certainly not be improving soon as he learned that the Gunners will have to face the tough prospect of FC Porto in early February. However, he will be pleased that the most difficult fixture over the holiday period is a home tie against Aston Villa.
Phil Brown will be hoping that Wenger's Gunners have one eye on their late January fixture list of Villa, Man Utd, Chelsea, Liverpool and FC Porto all with in a 20-day period, and that Arsenal's current poor form can stretch for another week.
Wenger will be hoping to get back on track after limping past Liverpool and only drawing against Burnley.
If the game is only half as good as the previous three games between the clubs it will be a great game for both sets of fans an neutrals alike.
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