Brown backing Tigers to survive

Brown’s side demonstrated a marked improvement from the 5-1

capitulation at Everton the previous week but Nicklas Bendtner

netted a stoppage-time winner as the Gunners’ persistence paid off

against 10-man Hull at the KC Stadium. The result saw Arsene

Wenger’s side keep their title dreams alive with eight games

remaining following a fifth straight league win, while the Tigers

suffered a fourth successive loss to remain languishing in the

relegation zone. But asked who he would back in the title race,

Brown said Arsenal had “every chance” before adding: “I’m not going

to go against Manchester United and I’m not going to go against

Chelsea. “My bet would be on Hull City staying in the Premier

League.” In the week Brown was forced to apologise for a fracas

between Jimmy Bullard and Nick Barmby which took place in front of

members of the Women’s Institute, the Tigers boss was thrilled with

his side’s fighting spirit. And he is confident similar

performances in the remaining nine games – beginning next weekend

against Portsmouth – can lead the Tigers to survival for a second

successive season. “If we bring that kind of pride and performance

to the table for nine games, then we’ve got no problems,” said

Brown, whose side failed to win any of their final 10 fixtures last

term before staying up on the final day. “I had a fear – if that’s

the right word – of maybe having to dip into the bottom three

because of Everton away and Arsenal at home. “That’s happened. It’s

up to us now to respond in nine cup finals – none more so than

Fratton Park next week.” George Boateng was sent off on the stroke

of half-time for Hull, after Bullard’s penalty following a

controversial Sol Campbell challenge had cancelled out Andrey

Arshavin’s opener. Boateng will now serve a ban, but Brown absolved

his captain of blame. “George has got no reason to apologise to

anybody,” the boss added. “He’s been an absolute credit to the

Premier League for 15 years. “He’s a big player for us and

someone’s got to step up to the plate instead of George now.” One

player close to a return is Stephen Hunt, with the Republic of

Ireland international in contention for the clash at Portsmouth,

the only team below Hull in the table. However, Kamil Zayatte’s

condition will be assessed in the next 24 hours to determine the

extent of the injury which forced him off and onto crutches last

night.