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Page last updated at 19:32 GMT, Saturday, 17 January 2009

Hull 1-3 Arsenal

By Mark Ashenden

Arsenal celebrate their first goal
Emmanuel Adebayor is mobbed as Arsenal celebrate the opener

Arsenal had to overcome a spirited fightback from Hull to keep up the pressure on the Premier League's top four with victory at the KC Stadium.

An Emmanuel Adebayor header opened the scoring from a corner seconds after a Robin van Persie free-kick hit the bar.

But Hull roared back with Daniel Cousin nodding in Bernard Mendy's cross.

The Gunners grabbed all three points as Samir Nasri coolly slotted in Van Persie's pass and Nicklas Bendtner poked in from close range at the end.

With Manchester United, Chelsea and Aston Villa all winning earlier in the day, Arsenal would have been desperate to keep the heat on the Premier League front-runners and they named an unchanged side after beating Bolton last week.


But it was Hull, on the hunt for a shock double over Arsene Wenger's men and an upturn in fortunes following four straight league defeats, who started the stronger with Geovanni scuffing a shot after two minutes.

For all of Arsenal's short passes and delicate trickery they created little in the opening 20 minutes with new signing Kevin Kilbane marshalling the Hull defence well.

But then up-stepped the excellent Van Persie to liven up proceedings on the half hour.

The Dutchman's vicious free-kick was tipped brilliantly onto the bar by Boaz Myhill and only a lunging tackle by Mendy on Johan Djourou denied the opener.

Brown finds positives despite defeat

Only a few seconds later the Premier League's weakest defence - Hull had conceded 39 goals going into the match - had crumbled.

Van Persie's corner was floated in from the left and found the lurking Adebayor, who looped a header over the stranded Nathan Doyle to notch only his third in nine games.

The confidence seemed to drain from Hull's players and Arsenal, stroking the ball around with ease, should have grabbed another soon after with Emmanuel Eboue shooting disappointingly wide.

Manucho - Hull's loan signing from Manchester United - was introduced to spice things up front and was immediately in the thick of the action after replacing Peter Halmosi.

The Angolan striker was clattered by Djourou on the six-yard box as both leapt for a header but the screams from the Hull bench for a penalty went unanswered.

It was against the run of play that Hull grabbed their equaliser and it came from the man who scored the winner at the Emirates four months ago.

With Gael Clichy dithering on the right, Mendy was given time to stroke in for Cousin to head in powerfully from three yards past the out-stretched hands of Manuel Almunia.

Wenger applauds Gunners patience

As the rain and wind tore across the stadium, the Arsenal players became hesitant and Hull stepped up the work-rate, sensing a famous victory was within their grasp.

Bendtner, one day after celebrating his 21st birthday, almost grabbed a goal just minutes after coming on, smashing the ball at Myhill after turning Kilbane.

With nine minutes to go, the spoils were Arsenal's. Van Persie poked the ball through to Nasri on the left and the winger calmly slotted the ball home inside the left post.

Bendtner wrapped up the game with four minutes to go, finishing off van Persie's square ball from close range to leave Hull without a single point in five league games.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger:

"Bernard Mendy was a handful with his pace and determination, but overall it was a good contest between him and Gael Clichy.

"I believe this team goes from strength to strength. Mentally they were up for it, we were focused, united, and ready for the battle. And we gave it a go until the end."

Hull: Myhill, Doyle, Turner, Ricketts, Kilbane, Mendy, France (Fagan 83), Ashbee, Halmosi (Manucho 53), Geovanni (Garcia 87), Cousin.

Subs Not Used: Duke, Dawson, Folan, Giannakopoulos.

Booked: Ashbee.

Goals: Cousin 65.

Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Djourou, Clichy, Eboue (Bendtner 69), Diaby, Denilson, Nasri, Adebayor (Song Billong 87), Van Persie.

Subs Not Used: Fabianski, Vela, Ramsey, Gibbs, Merida.

Booked: Clichy.

Goals: Adebayor 30, Nasri 82, Bendtner 86.

Att: 24,924

Ref: Alan Wiley (Staffordshire).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Arsenal's Robin van Persie on 8.54 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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see also
Premier League as it happened
17 Jan 09 |  Premier League
Saturday's football photos
17 Jan 09 |  Football

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