In the best FA Cup Final for quite a few years, Hull City announced themselves to a world wide audience by taking the game to an Arsenal starting eleven, despite being worth only a tenth of the North London’s line up.
The Tigers made light of the occasion and stage to rip into Arsenal from the off. James Chester alertly diverted a wayward shot past Fabianski after just 4 minutes, and then Curtis Davies fired in after the Gunners defence fell to sleep with just 8 minutes gone.
This was heady stuff! If Alex Bruce’s header had not been cleared off the line just moments later, the 3-0 scoreline would have seen the game dead with less than 15 minutes played!
Two pieces of fortune favoured the Gunners, Cazorla converted a slightly fortuitous free kick to halve the deficit. Arsenal were back into the game at this point but to be brutally honest, this was not the team that cleaned up the Tigers in the league match.
On 71 minutes, Arsenal were awarded a corner, when the ball came last off a red shirted player. Lucky old Arsenal, for Koscielny was on hand in the 6 yd box to scramble it home.
If there was any fingernails left in the 25,000 raucous TigerNation before this point, there wasn’t any after! The feeling was that City were on the back foot and Arsenal tried to press on for the winner, but it was left for the lottery of extra time to clear it.
Arsenal supporters are a curious lot. They seem to have this belief that players are ‘targeted’ by opposition teams; that every time a red shirt falls the floor, it’s an automatic free kick; and that they just have to turn up and they would win. The number of City fans who commented on the charmless nature of quite a number of them suggests a dose of institutionalised arrogance in this number. In addition, the condescending tone of some of the comments afterwards and the macabre delight in the fact City ‘threw away’ a two goal lead suggests that the win was closer than they really were expecting.
By now the Tigers were running on fuel tank fumes, having given everything out on the Wembley turf, more in hope than expectation, many were hoping for penalties, yet Arsenal were pretty unconvincing for a lot of the time. Lots of possession but little in the way of an end product.
By the time Aaron Ramsey scored the winner, there wasn’t even fumes left for the team but yet Sone Aluko nearly took it to spot kicks as he chased down a long kick, just getting their ahead of Fabianski. He’d been forced wide and the curling attempt ran across the face of goal; if he’d found the net, then who knows what the mental state of the Arsenal team would have been.
In the end, the team gave their all, and scared the living daylights out of the Gunners. The world wide audience, many of whose wouldn’t have known who City were, could only have been impressed with the way the team conducted themselves, the way they took the game to Arsenal and the sprint shown over 120 minutes. The whole squad have NOTHING to be ashamed about, and in giving their all, left a massive mark on the football world this weekend. It says something about the squad that they felt they let the fans down by the fact they lost, they really thought they could win it, and that’s the kind of attitude the TigerNation appreciate.
They were truly Tigers this weekend and I for one salute them hugely and am proud of being a supporter of such a squad of players!