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The Camden Cad
Aug 24, 2004
North London
Arsenal 2-1 Hull City

(Van Persie, 74) (Barmby, 12)
(Gallas, 84)

Phil Brown's phone will be red hot by now. In one exhilarating ten minute press conference, the furious Hull City manager unleashed a string of attacks aimed at everyone he deemed responsible for his team's exit. He accused Cesc Fabregas of spitting on the shoes of his assistant manager Brian Horton, Arsene Wenger of influencing Mike Riley and Riley himself, well, of being Mike Riley. There were digs and barbs aimed at journalists and players, hints of skulduggery and short-tempered one word answers. Who says that no-one cares about the FA Cup?

Fabregas has moved quickly to issue a full denial of the accusations, insisting that he had never spat at anyone in his life, but Brown was absolutely adamant.

"Fabregas spat at our assistant manager," he growled. "He spat on his feet. That's their club captain! I hope he's proud of himself."

After taking an early lead through a heavily deflected Nick Barmby shot, Hull began to drop backwards and, astonishingly, they were wasting time after just 14 minutes. Goalkeeper Boaz Myhill began to draw out his goal-kicks into two minute affairs, setting and resetting the ball, as the Arsenal crowd raged behind him. Wenger danced up and down on the touchline in an incandescent rage, barracking the fourth official and appearing to exchange words with Horton.

"Wenger got my goalkeeper booked," snarled Brown. "He kept complaining and the referee bowed to the pressure. That meant that the stadium had won. When you come to The Emirates, you know you're not going to get the rub of the green."

Brown will certainly attract the attention of the Football Association after this, but he might escape serious censure thanks to one journalist who was a little too keen to put words in his mouth. 'Do you feel cheated?', was the question, and it gave Brown a convenient loophole to say what he wanted, without actually saying it. And he 'didn't say it' four times after that.

"I can't use that word," he smiled grimly, "but I'm glad you have because that is the case."

It was Arsenal's winning goal that really sent him over the edge. William Gallas was two yards offside when he put the ball in the net, while Barmby had scored again in the first half from a yard off and seen his strike disallowed. The critical pass had been headed by Johan Djourou, but had caught a deflecton from the fist of Myhill on the way to Gallas. Technically then, the last touch had been from a Hull player, but was that touch really relevant?

"We're were not beaten by Arsenal," he raged. "We were beaten by the referee and the linesman.It's disgraceful."

By contrast, Wenger was a picture of loveliness, his charm dial turned up to factor ten. You'll be unsurprised to learn that he didn't see anything in the tunnel, that he didn't think the winning goal was offside and that if there wasn't any timewasting, where did the five minutes injury time come from?

There seems little chance of peace breaking out soon between Hull and Arsenal, but if Wenger or Fabregas were thinking of apologising, it's probably best if they don't bother.

"I don't accept apologies from anyone," grunted Brown. "Not even my own players."

EXPLOSIVE - Yes, there was actually a football match somewhere underneath all the controversy, and it was a corker. Hull started superbly but, if anything, they scored too early and retreated too soon. Arsenal, whatever Phil Brown says, were worthy winners and spent much of the second half camped in Hull's penalty area.

TURNING POINT - Giovanni could have put Hull 2-0 up in the 23rd minute with a ferocious free-kick, but Lukasz Fabianski was equal to it. The Polish goalkeeper is Wenger's cup choice and he made the most of his chance, putting in an exceptional performance and somehow twisting in the air to tip the ball over the bar.

LIONHEART - Sam Ricketts put his body between Arsenal and his own goal on countless occasions and must be black and blue by now. One Andrey Arshavin shot would have broken the sound barrier if it had been allowed some space, but Ricketts put his groin in the way of its progress. No greater love can a man have for his own club

PUNTERS RANT - It must have been a frustrating night for any brave punters looking for a repeat of Hull's victory here last year. The Tigers were well worth their lead, but they had little intention of leaving themselves open at the back by surging forward for a second. One Giovani shot was the only threat they offered after half-time and their defeat was inevitable.

MAN OF THE MATCH - Kamil Zayatte was everywhere for Hull. One sliding tackle in his own penalty area was one of the finest you could hope to see all season and, with a surprisingly robust Anthony Gardner beside him, he held Arsenal at bay for much of the game. Not quite all of the game though.


Crowd - 55,641
Yellow Cards - Myhill, Dawson, Halmosi, Manucho, France (Hull), Gallas, Nasri (Arsenal)
Red Cards - None
Arsenal -
Lukasz Fabianski 7, Abou Diaby 7, Bacary Sagna 7, William Gallas 7, Robin Persie 8, Carlos Vela 6 (Nicklas Bendtner 6, 64th), Theo Walcott 7 (Emmanuel Eboue 6, 82nd), Alex Song 7 (Samir Nasri 7, 64th), Johan Djourou 6, Andrey Arshavin 7, Kieran Gibbs 7
Hull City -
Boaz Myhill 7, Andy Dawson 7, Ian Ashbee 7 (Bryan Hughes 6, 45th), Craig Fagan 7, Nick Barmby 7 (Ryan France 6, 76th), Geovanni 7, Peter Halmosi 7 (Bernard Mendy 6, 68th), Samuel Ricketts 8, Kamil Zayatte 8, Manucho 7, Anthony Gardner 8