By Declan Taylor
When Hull City travelled to Emirates Stadium on September 27 they had already surprised everyone with only one defeat in their first five Premier League encounters.
What was to follow would prove this was no beginner’s luck.
A Geovanni goal-of-the-season contender had cancelled out a scruffy Cesc Fabregas opener just after the hour mark before Daniel Cousin headed the Tigers in front four minutes later.
Despite the best endeavours of the shell-shocked Gunners, an equaliser was not forthcoming, and Hull City entered the Emirates Stadium record books as the first side to come from behind and win at Arsenal’s new home.
A four-game hot streak was to follow but, despite still sitting eighth in the Premier League, things have turned a little sour for the Tigers of late.
Just one win in their last 12 encounters is form more akin to a newly-promoted side. However, if the Tigers complete an unlikely double on Saturday evening, they will move within eight points of Arsène Wenger’s men.
Ahead of the clash, we caught up with Phil Buckingham of the Hull Daily Mail for a local perspective on a remarkable season, the reaction to that famous win at the Emirates, the impressive Michael Turner and more.
THE EMIRATES EFFECT
"Quite simply it will go down as one of the club’s greatest ever nights of football. Obviously going there Hull were written off by everyone and I think most fans probably turned up hoping and praying for a draw, never mind a victory. To come away with a win was just phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal. I think it changed our status in the Premier League because, before that, I think a lot of people were happy to brush Hull aside as also rans. Going to Arsenal was the first time that they had used this 4-3-1-2 formation when you find a lot of clubs go there and just shut up shop. Hull went there with such a brave attitude and it paid dividends and you saw the whole Premier League sit up and take notice. They carried that on throughout October and that result at the Emirates helped Phil Brown get the manager of the month."
THE STORY SO FAR
"They have dropped off recently, there’s no doubt about that. It was a four-game winning streak up until facing Chelsea at home and they were fairly comprehensively beaten then. It has been a worrying run since, and more worrying of late. Hull have suffered four consecutive league defeats going into Saturday’s game and it is only one win in 12. Thankfully they managed their first win since the start of December against Newcastle in the FA Cup. Hopefully it will be a bit of a morale booster for them and that will be needed after a fairly abject performance against Everton last weekend.
"I’m not sure many people are sure why Hull's form has dipped. Perhaps during the first eight or nine games of the season the Premier League didn’t pay a lot of respect for Hull but given their fantastic start, getting 20 points from their first nine games, from then on in you had to give them the respect they deserved. I think a few teams have got wise to the way they go about things and of late the old rub of the green has been going against them; the refereeing decisions against Aston Villa and Everton last week are the type of thing that goes against you when you’re on a poor run."
CAUSE FOR CONCERN
"Are they looking over their shoulders at the relegation battle? Perhaps. After Everton last week for the first time Phil Brown came out and said they were in a relegation fight along with 13 other clubs in the Premier League. It’s so tightly bunched that, despite that cushion from the early season form, the way the results have gone have pulled them right back down into the pack now. If this run was to carry on through January and into February then you’re going to start seeing people worrying. At the minute they're still eighth, there’s still a bit of breathing space and in the grand scheme of things there is probably only another five wins needed. If they can get them from the last 17 games then they should be home and dry."
THE MAN IN CHARGE
"Phil Brown's half-time team talk on the pitch [at Manchester City] did get all the headlines. I think there are probably two schools of thought. You’ve got the fans who were happy to see him do that, it was a sort of public show of defiance against their poor performance. And then you get the ex-pros on the other side who seem to think it was entirely the wrong thing to do. Perhaps it wasn’t the best way to go about it because up until then, barring the odd game, Hull had had the best season in their history. To do that was perhaps a little bit harsh and a little bit humiliating but speaking to people in the camp it doesn’t seem to have had an adverse affect on the players. Only time will tell just how detrimental or positive that little team talk will prove to be.'
MEN OF THE MOMENT
"I think Michael Turner will run away with the Player of the Season awards. Obviously you saw down at Arsenal the likes of Geovanni and Daniel Cousin getting the goals. There are a few players who have supported Turner very, very well but people, in general, have lost their way a little bit of late. There are plenty of players who are coming out of this campaign with enormous credit. Kamil Zayatte along with Turner in defence and Boaz Myhill in goal who pulled off a wonder save to deny Fabregas late on at Emirates Stadium. You have to remember that this is their first season in the Premier League."
"They ought to approach Saturday's game with plenty of confidence. We’ve seen Arsenal struggle of late somewhat, they’re struggling to hold onto a top four place and I’m sure that’s a concern for Arsène Wenger. He won’t be taking this one lightly but Arsenal have got their injury problems and they don’t necessarily look their strongest in defence. You never quite know which Arsenal you’re going to get and I think Phil Brown has said that if his side play at full-tilt and at 100 per cent, and Arsenal are 20-30 per cent below, then Hull City have a chance. He’s wary of the fact that if Arsenal are at their absolute peak then it’ll take one hell of a performance from his side to get anything from the game."