Hull City Preview: Hashtag Win, Three Points Please; Wright On…

Hull City pitch up at the Emirates in a match Arsenal have to win. Not in the sense of being in the hunt for trophies or anything as tawdry as that, but just to relieve the pressure which is leading inexorably to Arsène Wenger’s exit. In Ian Wright’s opinion, that’s at the end of this season and the narrative of a legendary manager being hounded out of the club is already set to run.

I get the impression that that’s it. He looks tired. You just feel that he looks winded. I feel that he will go at the end of the season. He actually mentioned that he is coming to the end. I have never heard him say that before.

While it’s only an opinion, this is someone who knows Wenger and you’d think Wright wouldn’t be shy in asking him about the future. That Arsène reportedly mentioned the end of his reign is an indicator of his current mindset but no more than that; a few wins and he’ll probably think he’s got another season or two left in him.

Wright turned his aim at the players,

The players have let him down badly. If he does leave at the end of the season, there will be a lot of changes. They should have a long, hard look at themselves. He has been so faithful to his team, it has been misplaced.

Arsène’s loyalty to the players is almost legendary. The players have let him down but it is consistent over the past decade or so; we’ve talked about what is wrong with the squad composition until we’re blue in face. Not enough leaders, too nice, etc.; it makes for a pleasant working environment but loses an ‘edge’, a spark and that’s too apparent on the pitch.

Hull City – A test for Arsène Wenger’s loyalty

I suspect that Arsène will remain to most of the side which lost at Chelsea. Personally, I would give Ospina a match to make sure that he is match sharp for Wednesday. If Petr Cech takes that as punishment for the third goal, so be it. Who knows, we may see the perfect response from the rest of the team in those circumstances; the plus side is that if Ospina drops a ricket today, Cech can play in Munich.

The main injury worry is Hector Bellerin. I think talk of Graduated Returns is a welcome step but reading up on other sports approach to concussion, the first game back for the young Spaniard has to be Bayern. Yes, Gabriel isn’t the ideal replacement and some consideration should be given to playing Oxlade-Chamberlain at right back if we’re looking for width going forward. I’ve made no bones about my preference for a back three in Bellerin’s absence but it’s not going to happen, even in a home game where we should have no fear of defeat. Famous last words and all that, I know.

It’s also the only place Ox is going to get a place in the starting line-up today. Mohammed Elneny’s Gabon odyssey is over and straight back into the midfield he will come but beyond that, I look at the line-up last week and in my heart of hearts know that Wenger’s options to shake things up are limited. Perhaps that’s half the problem at the moment? We’re at the point where injury and suspension has limited Arsène’s options to vent his frustration on the players?

The line-up then,

Cech; Gabriel, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Elneny; Walcott, Özil, Iwobi; Alexis

Although it must be tempting to drop Theo with Giroud leading the line.

Bouncing back

No, not a reference to the top four again but an attempt at siege mentality. His public demeanour is such that you can’t imagine Arsène imburing a Musketeer spirit in this squad; their character set doesn’t appear to be capable of the typical football response when backs are against the wall.

Wenger was right in when he said, “The team wins and the team loses.” While he may like to defend the Özil’s and Sanchez’s of this world, the reality is that fans look to them to bring the team through difficult times and when that happens, they become the lightning rod for opinion. With their price tags, expectations are higher, fuelled by reputations forged on international success.

Arsène doesn’t like it, as you would expect,

“When you win sometimes some players are singled out as they are treated like exceptional players but when you don’t do well sometimes just focus a little bit more on the team aspect and not try to blame each other.

“The blame culture is part of the perception of people, but what is important is that we have a good opportunity to show that we are a united strong unit and that we bounce back.

And I think both players can perform better. Alexis doesn’t have to beat the opposition on his own while Mesut could score more. I’ll guarantee you though, that the pair lead the way in the club’s Player of the Season awards. Rightly so, when you consider the goal returns, as well as assists. Even at 80%, they are still the best pair in the squad. Bellerin, for what it’s worth, is the only one I think will feature in national awards.

This time we’ll get it right

The final word on today’s match goes to Le Boss,

“When you don’t win you cannot as well say that all is well. You have to analyse that something is not right. It is our job to find where and to have a strong united response.”

And that’s what we need; a win, no more, no less. Go to work, gentlemen, go to work.

Finally, a new playlist appeared on Dad’s Jukebox yesterday. That Was The Week That Was is a selection of tunes for the great and good over the last seven days.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

222 thoughts on “Hull City Preview: Hashtag Win, Three Points Please; Wright On…

  1. someone needs to teach Danny Mills the rules of football.

    I just watched MOTD and he said the goal should not have been allowed because it touched Sanchez’s hand.

    Since when was touching a hand an offence? The offence is deliberately controlling the ball with your hand, surely.

    It is clear that the ball hit is hand. As they say so often, ball to hand not hand to ball.

    Also, who has ever heard of a ref apologising to players of one team about a decision he has made?

    If he said anything, then I would have thought that he was saying sorry for having to give the goal, not that he gave it.

    In any event, if he said anything then he should be disciplined as I am sure it is incorrect and unprofessional.

  2. Equal second on goal difference in the premier league, still in the fa cup and CL… Wow!
    Name a club much better?
    Chelsea ok …. Let’s see

  3. jjgsol,

    Swarbrick apologised to West Brom for sending off the wrong player

    Webb apologised to West Brom for not awarding penalty against Stoke

    Marriner apologised for sending Gibbs off by mistake

    It happens.

  4. Wavey,

    I feel it is not correct to do so especially as it was the correct decision he made.

    It depends actually what he said anyway as I suggested .

  5. The board must be over the moon this morning

    They have built a sterile concrete monolith bowl that is the gift that keeps on giving

    After relocating from Highbury to what was previously a rubbish dump (literally – you couldn’t make this up) they didn’t know what to call it, so they let an airline pay them millions to name it after their global brand. No doubt some other brand will pay an incomprehensible sum to call it something else some day. But The Emirates will stick. A bit like Boris Bikes will always be called that

    Then the concrete alter brings in another £30m a year as the serfs trapse back and forth, back and forth, to kneel and worship every week. The overwhelming size and enormity of the bowl is sold as a dreadful burden to carry every week, so the serfs scrape their coppers together and offer them to the collection plate. They’re happy to help, as the promised land is close now. So close. Just a few more pennies and a little more hardship. Tomorrow is coming and it’ll be wonderful. Tomorrow will be wonderful!! Just make sure you pay today – we now take all major credit cards – for your convenience, of course

    And when other circuses roll into town and deliver the promised land today, not tomorrow, they can turn back and say, but don’t forget The Concrete Bowl!!!!!! It must be paid for!!! Those others are merely circuses, not a true place of worship!! They are sinners, snakes and charlatans. The truth shall be known on Judgement Day. When The Bowl delivers the promised land we shall know that it was done the holy way. The right way. The only way!!!!!!

    During that long, long wait and worship, your patience will be tested. But only those who truly pay and believe will earn their right to celebrate in Club Level. It might cost £5k a season, but you can jump the season ticket waiting list. And you get a “free” pint at half time

    Watered down. Everything is, except the prices. The beer, the football, the passion, the pride. Even the winning has been dillutted to “4th place is a trophy, as it pays for The Bowl”

    The Bowl is always full. Even when it’s half empty. Bums on seats are no longer the barometer. Seats that are paid for is all that counts. And they’re all paid for, every week

    The march towards organised religion is complete. Pay your money, get nothing back while to priest screws hoards of wild hookers sozzled on the finest brandy in every waking hour, barring the one a week when he has to deliver the sermon.

    The serfs are too terrified to question it. They must keep paying the pennies for The Bowl or Tottenham might leapfrog us into the 4th olace trophy. And the bowl would collapse and everything you worshipped would be gone and tomorrow will never come. So don’t let it happen!!

    It’s the ultimate board members wet dream. They know the serfs know it’s all a sham. But they’ve bought enough of it to be too scared to turn away now, so better to stick with what they know

    All hail the mighty concrete bowl. It’s 4th place. It’s a prize. It’s pure. You can worship it and worship in it. It’s a wonderous pile of fucking concrete full of tourists. Can’t get there? Pay money to stream the services into your living room LIVE!! You too can see The Bowl and help its holy guardians, Arsenal PLC, with their righteous struggle to maintain it, for your benefit, for another year, so call our toll free number to make your donation now!!!

    So, in summary, please ask yourself this question.

    Do you support a fucking concrete bowl that sits atop a shitty old rubbish tip or a football club, whose motto is Victoria Concordia Crescit

    4th place, in-fighting and worshipping false idols? Or VICTORY above all else?

    Look around, stop and have a think about it and choose the right path while a wonderful game teeters on the brink of eternal damnation

  6. Damon,

    Nice one Damon.

    Unfortunately the similarities fit too well between religion and football. Our religious fan(atic)s have gone too far down one true path to enlightenment and will persecute any heretics who dare to question the teachings of the Prophet, or is that profit (a bit of Dogma there). Even when he dies for them they know he will rise again with the signing of the New Contract. The other clubs are false, relying on tricks and lies to fool their misguided followers.

  7. Wavey:

    Swarbrick apologised to West Brom for sending off the wrong player

    Webb apologised to West Brom for not awarding penalty against Stoke

    Marriner apologised for sending Gibbs off by mistake

    It happens.

    Wavey, if only the wengerite, tin hat mob conspiracy theorists fundermentalists knew this. But actually it probably wouldn’t change a thing. They have made the refs culpable for everything that’s wrong at our club.

  8. consolsbob,


    I wonder if you get a sense of my personal feeling towards organised religion from my slightly tongue in cheek post?

    I come from a fairly strong Christian upbringing, but my family are in no way whatsoever evangelical. My ethos is very much in tune with “if you think that, hey, that’s great, but I’ve done my reading and wondering and please don’t take my indifference to all comers mindsets as an invitation to try and bend my head to see the world through the eyes you do”

    Football fandom is very close to religion in the feelings, senses and passions it can and does evoke. In no way is that, in essence, a bad thing. Just like religion though, it can start to morph into a rather ugly beast manifested in humans. It’s our responsibility to stop, think and evaluate ourselves and those around us in simple human terms, within the parameters of what we personally and collectively perceive to be “decent” in the here and now

    There is no point trying to take something that was releavant 5000 years ago and applying it word for word today. Nor assuming what was “right” in football a hundred years ago could be wholesale applied today.

    My point was more akin to what Bob touched on. Moving from Highbury was probably the single most damaging thing that happened to this club in decades. It has brought many benefits, some vast, but for me, the negatives are beginning to outweigh them

    I’m not sure that it started out with today being the intention, but we are where we are and it should be assessed on face value. Some of our own board and fans or fans from other clubs will say “you don’t know how lucky you are” and the only ones I’d listen to would be fans of other clubs. I must sound like an utter prick to a host of fans who aspire to Champions League football. Not just once but every season in living memory and a 60k all seater stadium in the heart of London with every comfort that could possibly be afforded it. So to them I say, yes, I am that arrogant prick, but be fucking careful what you wish for

    I was in favour of moving to The Emirates when it happened. The dream of more affordable tickets that were more easily available whilst helping to push the club onto a level where it could compete for European glory was sold. I bought it and who wouldn’t? The idea was pure and a good one

    Has it brought any of those benefits though. I say not one. Infact, all three points are further away from being realised than when we started

    Add to that the atmosphere in the stadium is poor at best. Always has been and probably always will be. Perhaps it’s the rose tinted glasses looking back on my days of yoof but can anyone imagine going to The Emirates on their own, as a one time visitor (i.e. Not sitting in a seat they regularly attend) and feeling a sense of comradery? I’d venture that unless you made a better than average effort yourself, no one would even fucking speak to you throughout the game. Sing??!!?? You’ll be lucky! It won’t be an amusing one either, probably the horrendous monotone of simply “ArsenalArsenalArsenal”. The witty songs that were made up almost game to game have been replaced with huge flags that are waved behind the goal when someone scores. Hurrah!

    I challenge anyone who has visited Highbury once and The Emirates just once to tell me all the benefits they feel the move has brought them. Personally and collectively to us, AFC fans. Then the negatives. I’ll happily engage in that list making today or any day from now

    I mean what I made into a bit of an attention grabbing post. Some of the fans have been blinded my the stadium. It’s become bigger than the club, the team and the game.

    In part, it has divided the fan base, possibly irrevocably which is dreadful to even think possible.

    Some will say that it isn’t the clubs fault. That since the idea of the stadium was borne to take us onto the next level, the game changed. Sponsorship and tele money dwarfs match day revenue with oil money mixed in there too. In part, I’d agree. But. AFC has been too slow to adapt to the shift in the landscape. To the point of being left behind. Now hiding behind the mantra of doing it the right way, but, in reality, they’re not doing it at all

    If you’re here and reading this site, you care about AFC. Therefore, I ask each and every one of you, where is your line in the sand on this? When we get there, if we haven’t crossed it already, what are YOU going to do about it?

  9. Ironic that “Victoria Concordia Crescit” translates as “Victory Grows Through Harmony” which is the last thing that the club are facilitating.

    Great post by the way Damon. Sad how for some people everything boils down to money, money, money. I thought this was a sport.

  10. Damon,

    The emirates is not for us or those that have the fond memories of Highbury. It’s for the new generation that know of nothing else. They will love the ground.

  11. Dukey,


    I seriously doubt that. Aside from spending time with people I enjoy the company of, I genuinely find I have a better “matchday experience” in my own front room

    I’d imagine that the digital generation would probably be able to show me a dozen ways I could enhance that. A dozen of which I’d have no idea of their existence without their intervention

    It’s not about Highbury vs. The Emirates

    It’s about what each stands for, symbolises and empowers

  12. You are absolutely correct in what you say, Damon. I remember when I first challenged what was then more or less the 100% support for Arsene that this blog used to have, I was pilloried. The hatred and reaction was very similar to that displayed by zealots. Even the language, with words like ‘heresy’ and ‘orthoxy’ being thrown around.

    As for the Highbury/Emirates issue, I too supported the move but now see it as just a step along the road to the death of football as a true sport, to it’s removal from it’s roots and it’s establishment in a bright shiny and above all, profitable, capitalist meta.

    Highbury was heritage, belonging, warmth, it WAS Arsenal to me and to, I am sure, generations before me. Remember that scene in Nick Hornsbs book when he was first taken to Highbury? It was awe and love at first experience.

    The Emirates can’t do that. It’s a fantastic modern stadium but it is a corporate edifice, cold and clinical. it has a purpose which is to generate as much income as it can and it does it very well but I could never love it. Duke is correct though, for those who, in this age of low discernment, when Glitz and glamour tower over modesty and tradition as virtues, it is the right stadium for our times. They are impressed that others are impressed. Pleased that others are jealous, that ‘we’ have the best stadium.

    This is a deep topic. there are other points. Would it be the same now if the old Board hadn’t sold out? If Dein and Fiszman were still there? Imponderables and irrelevant.

    We have what we have and it is not for me.

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