Van Persie fits the Bergkamp mould
Hull City 1 Arsenal 3
Monday 19 January 2009
Perhaps it was only to have been expected that Robin van Persie would make himself so at home on Arsenal's first visit to Hull for a league match since the 1914-15 season, when there was a more serious conflict raging on the European front than the Second Division fixture between the Tigers and the Gunners at Anlaby Road.
Kingston upon Hull happens to be twinned with Rotterdam, Van Persie's home town. The son of an artist and a sculptor, the 25-year-old Dutchman was in masterful form, producing the creative brush strokes on the canvas of an Arsenal victory that was achieved with an irresistible late flourish. Arsène Wenger's latest team may well be an Henry, a Vieira and another genius or four short of the champion class Gunners of old (and without the wounded Cesc Fabregas in recent weeks) but in Van Persie they have a Netherlander who is proving to be as outstanding an attacking orchestrator as the brilliant Dennis Bergkamp.
As it happened, Dennis was on Arsenal TV just last week, talking about how his touch and intuition in the pivotal withdrawn attacking position made him such a menace to Premier League defences and a sheer delight to the faithful of Highbury. At the KC Stadium on Saturday evening, Van Persie conducted a masterclass in the same role, prompting all three Arsenal goals and rattling the Hull crossbar for good measure.
It took the deftest of finger-tip saves to keep the former Feyenoord man off the score-sheet, Boaz Myhill brushing Van Persie's curling 25-yard free-kick on to the frame of his goal in the 28th minute.
Hull's California-born keeper could do nothing though to keep out a header from Emmanuel Adebayor two minutes later – thanks to a right-wing corner executed with supreme precision by Arsenal's No 11.
In fairness, Wenger's introduction of Nicklas Bendtner with 20 minutes remaining was also vital as the Gunners rode the blow of Daniel Cousin's 65th-minute equaliser, a stooping header from six yards, and finished off a tigerish Hull side with an old one-two. The Dane's pace and movement restored attacking momentum just when Arsenal needed it, stretching the home guard and sparking Van Persie's fuse. It was from a Bendtner pass that Van Persie fashioned the goal that regained the lead eight minutes from time, twisting free on the edge of the area and playing a killer pass out left for Samir Nasri to beat Myhill with an angled finish. Four minutes later Van Persie teed up Bendtner for Arsenal's third with a delightful return pass, albeit from a marginally offside position.
All of which has left Arsenal three points behind Aston Villa in fifth place in the table and unbeaten in eight Premier League games now – and Hull pointless for a fifth game and in serious danger of being dragged into the relegation dogfight. "He was outstanding," Wenger said afterwards when asked about the Dutch man of the match – at £2.75m, an absolute steal from Feyenoord five years ago.
Goals: Adebayor (30) 0-1; Cousin (65) 1-1; Nasri (82) 1-2; Bendtner (86) 1-3.
Hull City (4-4-1-1): Myhill; Doyle, Turner, Ricketts, Kilbane; Mendy, France (Fagan, 83), Ashbee, Halmosi (Manucho, 54); Geovanni (Garcia, 87); Cousin. Substitutes not used: Duke (gk), Dawson, Forlan, Giannakopoulos.
Arsenal (4-4-1-1): Almunia; Sagna, Touré, Djourou, Clichy; Eboué (Bendtner, 69), Diaby, Denilson, Nasri; Van Persie; Adebayor (Song, 87). Substitutes not used: Fabianski (gk), Vela, Ramsey, Gibbs, Merida.
Referee: A Wiley (Staffs).
Booked: Hull Ashbee; Arsenal Clichy.
Man of the match: Van Persie.
For Premier League highlights, click here .
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