High dudgeon at the Grove

Arsenal 2-1 Hull City

That was an absolute humdinger of a cup tie, it really was, a total rip-snorter. Though sadly, it was also one that was entirely overshadowed by an extraordinary outburst by Hull’s manager.

Talk about making a mountain out of a Myhill.

Let’s get that bit out the way first. There were no indications anything was amiss as the players trooped off at the end, at least not from where I stood. But following the game, Brown launched an extraordinary tirade against Wenger, Fabregas and the referee. He accused:

– Fabregas of spitting at his assistant manager
– Wenger of not shaking his hand
– Ref Riley of being rubbish
– Wenger of inciting the ref to unfairly book his keeper

Now, let’s get these out the way one by one. Firstly, the spitting. Well, Fabregas came out and categorically denied that. It sounds that some argy-bargy did go on but we don’t know what. Why would Cesc spit at someone?

Secondly, Wenger not shaking his hand. It seems that the boss didn’t do so after the game, but instead went to the away dressing room to do it, finding nobody. “There was no-one there,” said Wenger, “Why should I wait”?

Well, why wait that long anyway, Wenger? In my view the handshaking should happen right at the end of the game, regardless of anything that might have happened during the match. It looks graceless otherwise and opens you up to petty accusations such as these. Nevertheless, this is a trifling point. Hardly the stuff of venom and bile.

Then he accused Riley of succumbing to pressure to book Myhill, and for allowing the second goal to stand. The first part of this accusation is pure guff, an absolute nonsense. Myhill was dilly-dallying after about 15 minutes, it was plain to see and it got worse in the second half. It was embarrassing to watch and the yellow was completely merited.

Was the goal offside? Yes. But such things happen in football. It might be frustrating, but that’s the way it is. To launch such a stinging tirade smacks of sour grapes.

Right, now onto the game. It really was a fantastic cup-tie, up and down the pitch like a yo-yo and full of chances. Hull were far and away the better side in the first half, which was a major worry. We were pretty much off the pace, the front pairing of Vela and van Persie wasn’t working, Walcott and Arshavin were pretty quiet and Diaby was sloppy in possession.

But in the second half, we took over completely and absolutely peppered their goal. We had a couple of close headers, a few shots scrambled off the line, we hit the post, and when van Persie finally netted with 16 minutes remaining it was no more than we deserved.

In fact, it was the introductions of Nasri and Bendtner for Song and Vela that made the difference. Bendtner was everywhere, right down people’s throats and started winning the headers we had previously been losing. He menaced Hull’s goal and was instrumental in the equaliser.

As for the winner, well Myhill fumbled the ball, it came back to Gallas – offside – and he nodded in from close range. On the balance of play, 2-1 was fair. But at the same time, Hull battled exceptionally well and could well have held on for 1-1. That’s football.

We’re back at Wembley for the first time in a decade – and take on Chelsea. It feels sweet.

So in all: a load of nonsense overshadows a game of two halves.

Pretty much sums up football in general, doesn’t it?


Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.