Posts Tagged george boateng

Hull City 1 Arsenal 2

Message to Arsenal by Hull City supporters

Note to Arsenal - no diving, no stamping, no spitting and no hoodies.

Ouch. Even writing the scoreline is like a dagger through the heart. This was not an unexpected defeat but it was a cruel one nevertheless. It leaves City essentially four points adrift from safety but hopefully with a welcome injection of confidence that has ebbed away after successive spankings at West Ham and Everton.

City reverted to the 4-4-2 system which has served them well in home games, but early on looked stretched in the middle with Craig Fagan and Dean Marney on the wings rarely getting involved in play. In fact we looked overwhelmed in midfield and unable to close them down quickly enough, leaving Andrei Arshavin loose to fire the Gooners into an early lead.

It was looking like a real hiding was in the offing, but against the grain Marney looped a superb ball over the Gooners’ defence for Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink. He had the simplest of chances six yards out but Sol Campbell dragged him to the floor before he could shoot. Referee Andre Marinner couldn’t avoid awarding a penalty but unfathomably bottled sending off the former Notts County player.

Jimmy Bullard tucked the spot kick into the top corner to make it 1-1 and the equaliser instilled belief in the players and the fans that we could take a point or three from this game. That optimism remained right until the referee located his red card and sent off George Boateng – rightly so by all accounts – and we were down to 10 men from the 44th minute to the 100th.

Early in the half, another City disaster as Kamil Zayatte was worryingly stretchered off, adding to our selection problems at centre-back, though Liam Cooper is fit again to stop us needing to recall Ibrahima Sonko or playing Zinedine Kilbane out of position (though what his proper position is, I haven’t a clue).

A combination of comedic Arsenal shooting and stout City defending prevented the visitors from even having a second half shot on target until the 89th minute, though several ballooned 80 yards over the bar. One from Arshavin is believed to still be in orbit.

There followed the board going up to indicate six minutes of injury time, two minutes into which a desperate long-range Arsenal effort was feebly patted down by Boaz Myhil and their striker made no mistake from the open goal.

Added to the own goal winner he scored for Blackburn Rovers , the very saveable two goals that went past him against Bolton, and the bad mistake which led to Everton’s crucial third goal last week, it’s not been an impressive few months for Bo since he salvaged a point at Spurs with a heroic performance.

On the way home, I heard various Arsenal fans label City a dirty side and part of the conspiracy that’s out to injure all their players. But aside from Boateng’s recklessness, I didn’t see any evidence of that – in fact the horrible challenge that saw Zayatte leave on a stretcher was the only one that had me wincing. Remember that, in the league table of the Premier League teams who are fouled the most, Arsenal are apparently only second – it’s Hull City who are on the receiving end more than anyone.

Listening to the radio, Arsene Wenger had amazingly actually seen the penalty incident and gave a fair and honest assessment of his initial reaction and then how this had changed upon watching replays.

Shame the travelling Arsenal fans – who took a collective vow of silence from the moment our equaliser went in until their last-gasp winner – couldn’t show as much class as their manager, as they cheered and waved goodbye to Zayatte as he was carried off.

City fans, who earlier had warmly applauded a Gooner song about Aaron Ramsey, retaliated to their heartlessness with a rendition of ‘There’s only one Ryan Shawcross’, the Stoke hothead who crocked Ramsey.

It’s clear Arsenal fans want it both ways – they’re disgusted at anyone fouling one of their players, but when it happens to a player for another team they revel in it.

For City, taking anything from this game was always a longshot. The real action now switches to Portsmouth next Saturday. Be there if you can.

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Blackburn Rovers 1 Hull City 0

The storming performances against Manchester City and Chelsea over the previous seven days showed us how gloriously exciting being in the Premier League can be. Two clashes pitting the Tigers against teams stuffed with multi-millionaire players with world-class reputations – it was a double reminder as to why we spent 104 years coveting a place in the top tier.

However, many more games in this league are just a slog between teams too frightened to play expansive, attacking football in case they make a mistake. After all, concede a goal in a critical game and you can lose points, followed by your Premier League status and with it tens of millions of pounds in revenue.

This night in Lancashire was a particularly brutal war of attrition and the biggest, strongest and most organised side prevailed, without being forced to show much quality or adventure.

We set out with unchanged personnel and 4-4-2 formation for the fourth game in a row, yet the manner of play was starkly different to the trio of home games which had produced five points.

Where at The Circle we try to seize the initiative and play a fast-paced, pressing game, away from home we can’t replicate it, even when the line-up is the same.

We struggled to offer any sort of attacking threat beyond an early shot from Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink that was well-struck and low but barely troubled Paul Robinson in the Rovers goal.

Of course, if George Boateng had not been ridiculously sent off for a clash of heads in the first half, the game might have panned out differently. However, that’s probably wishful thinking as we’d been second best up to then and there was no sign of breaking the stranglehold that Sam Allardyce’s team had on the game.

A final word for Phil Brown. His team didn’t perform but at least he made a positive change in the second half, subbing both full-backs and switching to 3-4-2 to try and sneak a point. If we’d showed more attacking intent in some other away games – dor instance Bolton and Manchester United – we could have snaffled a win.

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Hull City 2 Manchester City 1

It’s now indisputable: the present Hull City are a totally different proposition to the team that couldn’t beg, borrow or steal a win for such a long stretch at the back end of last season. More steely at the back, even without Michael Turner; a midfield that has some ball-playing craft as well as graft; and two strikers up front that even top teams struggle to keep a lid on.

It’s important not to overstate our mini-revival, or jinx it, as this was our first win for months, we’re winless away from The Circle and we’re just a few points above the drop zone. But there is a real feeling we’ve turned a corner, particularly as a very tricky set of games are behind us and Phil Brown is wisely sticking with a formation and a line-up that seems to be working well, rather than just working hard.

And just as we fully deserved to take a point off moneybags Chelsea on Tuesday, no one connected to even more megabucks Manchester City could argue they were unlucky to go home pointless today.

From the off, the Tigers were more aggressive and dictated the pace of the game. At times Citeh’s centre-back pairing just could not handle Jozy Altidore, who is becoming ever sharper now he’s a settled part of the team rather than a bit-part player, and both of them picked up bookings for hauling our American boy down on the edge of the box.

He looked emotional as he celebrated his first Premier League goal in the first half – slotting home from the edge of the penalty area after being teed up by Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink – and the relief of finally getting off the mark should lead to a few more goals before the season ends.

Teenage sensation Tom Cairney impressed once more with his awareness and composure on the ball. Suddenly we don’t seem quite so desperate for Jimmy Bullard’s return to the midfield, as hugely important as that will be, though it may be ambitious to expect too much of Cairney yet.

At the other end of the age scale, two old warhorses proved they still have the legs for three games in seven days, with Vennegoor of Hesselink dominating the aerial battle and George Boateng the best player on the park even if you ignore his winning goal, lashed home from outside the box. ‘Feed the Boat and he will score’.

What of the other City on display? Well, they finally took the upper hand for a 15-minute spell after their goal, Emmanuel Adebayor bundling in during a goalmouth scramble, and spurned a couple of good openings as the ball was lumped towards our goal in the dying stages. But for the most part their players put in the type of moody, lethargic shrug of a performance you’d more readily associate with Dmitar Berbatov at their cross-city rivals.

Just as the officials didn’t spot Rio Ferdinand’s elbow to Craig Fagan’s face off the ball against Manchester United, today they missed Stephen Ireland slapping the same player in the face which could have warranted a straight red. There may be some retrospective disciplinary action, as in the Ferdinand case, but having Ireland banned when Man City play our relegation rivals won’t help us in any way. Though judging on his performance today, his replacement couldn’t possibly be any worse.

You can buy the most expensive players in the world, you can fire managers, but you can’t shake the feeling that Manchester City are still years away from being a team to challenge for trophies.

As for Hull City, things seem to be clicking nicely thank you very much.

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