15 May 2014

Danger, Tom Huddlestone! A former Spud's trash-talk ups the ante...

We're almost to the point that we can count down the hours instead of the days. The FA Cup final draws closer and closer, and with it, a tantalizing chance to achieve something glorious. The fact that we've beaten Spurs, Coventry, Liverpool, Everton, and cup-holders Wigan should do nothing to overshadow Hull's path to the final even if their run has seen them face sides largely from the lower divisions (save Sunderland). Adding just a touch of flavor to the proceedings, we'll face a former Spud on Saturday—Tom Huddlestone, whose  goal against Sheffield United was vital in Hull's 5-3 semifinal win. Ahead of the final, Mr. Huddlestone had a few words about denying Arsenal on Saturday...

With Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic each up-tied (Long played for West Brom in the FA Cup, Jelavic for Everton), Huddlestone emerges as one of Hull's more-dangerous options on offense. His three goals and two assists are bested only by Jake Livermore's three goals and four assists. While those numbers may not be enough to inspire much shaking of boots or nibbling of fingernails, we'd do well to keep an eye on Huddlestone on Saturday. It's a bit ironic to suggest; after all, Huddlestone suffered a goal-drought of nearly three years, ending finally during Hull's 6-0 orgy against Fulham. Since then, he's gone through what counts as a bit of a purple-patch, if only by comparison: three goals and two assists in 20 appearances. Again, not quite enough to set us all a-tremblin', but good for him.

Sincerely (yes, I know that saying "sincerely" actually backfires, but I did mean it). Huddlestone didn't cut his hair through that drought of his, and he auctioned the locks for charity, raising some £35,000 for Charity Research UK. Still, he's a former Spur, and more important, a current Tiger, and he's talkin' trash:
It would be nice to stop them from winning anything again. We know it is going to be difficult, but it is a Cup final, and it is probably the best place to be an underdog. We have shown against the big boys in the league that we can match them, although we probably haven't got a lot of the results we deserve.
Calvin and Hobbes
Okay, so "trash-talk" might stretch it a bit. If anything, he sounds courteously deferential. It's hard to get all riled up about it, and I do wish he had said something a bit more insolent. His teammate Curtis Davies does up the ante just a bit with this:
In the final you expect to go up against somebody of good quality, and they are not much harder than Arsenal. I just hope it is one of their worst days. I was with Birmingham when they upset Arsenal in that Carling Cup final and I'm hoping we can emulate that success.
That's a bit less neighborly, I guess. I mean, who brings up Birmingham at a time like this? Bad form, Curtis. Let's try to keep it positive and friendly, shall we?

His point, though, is a decent one. In addition to facing Hull, we do also face the burden of nearly a decade without a trophy as well as the debacle against Birmingham (not to mention more recent ones against Bradford or Blackburn). I'm sure that many Gooners strut and fret about this, but I'd wager that most Gunners, aware though they are of the history, are eager to put that past behind them and press forward in order to seize the chance they've earned. Hull have had a great season—finishing 17th, making it to the FA Cup final, qualifying for the Europa League—but let's see to it that this is as far as they go.

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