Arsenal 1 Hull City 2
PUBLISHED: 16:08 01 October 2008 | UPDATED: 10:19 22 July 2010
SO WHERE exactly did that result come from? Arsenal were top of the league, unbeaten at home for 19 months and bursting with confidence after the kids had dazzled in the Carling Cup. They were also 1-0 up against a team who probably still couldn't believe
SO WHERE exactly did that result come from?
Arsenal were top of the league, unbeaten at home for 19 months and bursting with confidence after the kids had dazzled in the Carling Cup.
They were also 1-0 up against a team who probably still couldn't believe they were even playing at the Emirates Stadium.
Then, out of the blue, everything changed. Hull's Brazilian playmaker Geovanni picked up the ball 35 yards from goal, took a couple of steps forward and belted in arguably the finest goal the Emirates has seen.
In that instant, the game was turned on its head and with it Arsenal's early-season momentum. Daniel Cousin's headed winner almost felt inevitable, despite the unbelievable scoreline it produced.
Arsene Wenger was so shocked by what had happened that he referred to Hull as 'West Brom' in his post-match press conference. Usually the Gunners boss would see the funny side of such an error. Not on this occasion.
"I believe at the end of the day if you imagine that we had the same level of concentration that Hull had we would have won the game because the technical difference was in our favour. They had a little bit extra," said Wenger, reacting to only a second defeat at the Emirates in 60 games.
"After we were 1-0 up we were a bit careless. Instead of pushing on and scoring a second goal, we gave too much room to Hull and in the end we were caught."
Caught they were, but it was hard to feel anything other than Arsenal got what they deserved on Saturday.
Right from the opening exchanges there just seemed to be an attitude that here was a game that was a foregone conclusion, never something you could usually say about Wenger's side.
But it would be a travesty to put this result down to Arsenal playing poorly. Hull showed bravery, discipline and no little skill to pull off arguably the greatest result in their history.
Phil Brown used to be No2 to Sam Allardyce at Bolton, and he clearly remembered only too well from his time there how to play against Arsenal - and how to beat them.
His 4-3-1-2 formation had the trio of Ian Ashbee, Dean Marney and George Boateng skirmishing in front of the back four and doing what you have to do to have a chance against the Gunners - nullify Cesc Fabregas.
With the Spaniard crowded out it was left to the wide men and the strikers to create something for themselves, but Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie played like strangers, while on the flanks Theo Walcott went back into his shell and Emmanuel Eboue returned to his more familiar form after his goal-scoring exploits the previous week.
Nonetheless, with the defence looking solid and Denilson busying himself in the midfield battle, when the Gunners took the lead it seemed Hull's bright resistance had been broken, and more goals would follow.
But that killer instinct that has so often been missing in the past was not there again and, with the door left ajar, Hull bulldozed their way to an incredible turnaround.
"I woudn't like to go into any individual comment on individual performances today because you can always fault this one or this one," added Wenger afterwards.
"I believe as a unit, as a team we were not at the level where we wanted to be. I believe that's more collectively and its more down to mental aspects rather than technical aspects.
"The team is young enough. I believe we need some more experience in some areas in the game and to defend better. The way we gave the first and second goal away is not exactly what we need."
Wenger was trying to keep the defeat in some kind of perspective and that was necessary - after all they are still only two points adrift of the top of the table, and this defeat does not make them a bad team overnight.
What it does suggest though is that the soft centre that was so brutally exposed at the tail-end of last season is a problem that has not been solved, and there is every chance it could cost them again this season.
Two defeats in the opening six games is a stuttering start - but it is the calibre of the opposition in those two games that is the more pressing concern. Arsenal have yet to play even a side who will expect to finish in the top six.
"I don't know if we can't afford to lose again but what we delivered on Saturday was not good enough, we know that.
"I always look first at myself after defeats. You think about the game and, if you can watch it, you watch it again."
Perhaps Wenger should not watch the Hull game again. He might be better off thinking of it as a freak result, sparked by a freak goal and trying to forget all about it.