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Hull proves the power of positive play
by Ian Plenderleith, September 29th, 2008 7AM



[ENGLAND] Few teams outside of the Premier League's elite are given any chance of a result when they travel to Arsenal, Chelsea or Manchester United. The received wisdom is that if you play a 4-5-1 formation and hunker down for a tie, you might be lucky enough to come away with a point. As Bolton Wanderers proved in its 2-0 defeat at Old Trafford, it rarely works, and you spend the large majority of the game smacking the ball upfield to your lone forward.

Then there's the revolutionary Hull City approach -- reason that there's a good chance you'll lose anyway, and so take a few risks. Don't be scared of your opponent and its 60,000 home crowd, or the fact it has not lost at home for almost a year and a half. Not only do you come away with a historic win, but you are party to a terrific game of soccer that has the nation admiring your play, your courage and your positive philosophy.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger gave credit to the extra "commitment" that Hull showed, and said that the defeat was a lesson for his team. His Hull counterpart, Phil Brown, confessed that when Arsenal took a one-goal lead at the start of the second half, they could have rattled up the kind of score that had seen off Sheffield United in the League Cup in midweek, when Arsenal won, 6-0. But rather than hide or roll over, his team pressed back with two goals in the space of a few minutes, including a highlight-reel strike from 30 yards out by Brazilian Geovanni.

Hull moved up to sixth, and now has 11 points from its first six games, the same number Derby County accumulated over the whole of last season. Hull, it should also be remembered, was tipped to be this season's Derby.

To be fair to Bolton, it was unlucky to fall behind to a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty when the Portuguese midfielder was tackled by defender Lloyd Samuel, but referee Rob Styles interpreted it as a foul. Bolton manager Gary Megson refused to blame the penalty for the defeat, though, acknowledging United's superiority. Wayne Rooney came off the bench to add a second, lifting United, with one game in hand on its rivals, to 11th position.

Chelsea is top after a comfortable 2-0 victory at Stoke, while Liverpool is second after winning another intense but poor quality Merseyside derby at Everton on two goals from Fernando Torres past Tim Howard.

Tottenham's still bottom and winless after losing to Portsmouth, while Newcastle's new interim manager, Joe Kinnear, could do nothing to stop the Magpies' losing streak, now at five games following a 2-1 defeat at home to Blackburn Rovers.

"They seem to be lacking in confidence," said Kinnear after the game. Where on earth did he get that idea?

Fulham boss Roy Hodgson unusually made no substitutions as his short-handed side fell 2-1 at home to West Ham, which meant no playing time for substitute Clint Dempsey. His compatriot, Brad Friedel, was more successful, conceding one but taking the three points as Aston Villa beat Sunderland by the same scoreline.

Chelsea 14
Liverpool 14
Aston Villa 13
Arsenal 12
West Ham 12
Hull 11
Blackburn 10
Manchester City 9
Portsmouth 9
Wigan 8
Manchester Utd 8 (5 games)
West Bromwich 7
Sunderland 7
Everton 7
Fulham 6 (5 games)
Middlesbrough 6
Bolton 4
Stoke 4
Newcastle 4
Tottenham 2


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