To say Mohamed Diamé's goal against Arsenal on Saturday was contentious would be something of an understatement. Gunners midfielder Mathieu Flamini did well to get between the Hull midfielder and the ball as Diamé bore down on goal, only for the Senegalese to haul the Frenchman back to go one-on-one with Wojciech Szczesny.
Referee Roger East saw nothing wrong with what Diamé did and, despite the protests of the Arsenal players, allowed the goal to stand. Flamini may have given up far too easily, but it's fair to say a free-kick should have been awarded to the hosts. Hull and Diamé, however, benefitted from East's decision and while the Tigers could not hold out for all 3 points - Abel Hernández's second half header was cancelled out Danny Welbeck's late strike - it marked another notable performance from the summer signing. Diamé's finish in Saturday's stalemate - a delicate dink over Szczesny - was the mark of a player whose confidence is sky high at present.
The deadline day arrival now has four goals in five Premier League starts since moving to the KC Stadium, matching his total with West Ham last term having needed 35 appearances to reach that figure in 2013/14. To put into context how effective a signing Diamé has been, since Hull's return to the Premier League, only Nikica Jelavic (eight) has netted more league goals than the 27-year-old (four).
While Steve Bruce was left to rue another lack of concentration at the Emirates - Welbeck's goal was the fourth time this season Hull have conceded a league goal from the 80th minute onwards - Diamé's impact has been nothing short of superb. Only fellow summer arrival Michael Dawson (7.65) has earned a better WhoScored rating (7.63) of all Hull players in England's top tier this season, further reinforcing how well he has adjusted to his new surroundings.
Operating as both the midfield enforcer and driving force in the middle of the park, Diamé's power stands him in good stead, both on and off the ball. The Senegalese is averaging the most tackles per game (5.2) in the Premier League this season to help ease the pressure on the Hull backline. In fact, only Patrick van Aanholt (11), Mile Jedinak, Victor Wanyama and Youssuf Mulumbu (all 9) have made more tackles in a single league match this season than Diamé managed on Saturday.
In the meeting with Arsenal, where the approach was to soak up pressure and hit the opposition on the counter attack, Diamé's performance was exactly what was expected of him. His task was perhaps made easier in that Arsenal focused the majority of their attacks down the middle (39%), but Diamé was still on hand to minimise the impact of Jack Wilshere, in particular, whose WhoScored rating (6.34) was poor by his standards.
Considering only five teams are averaging less possession per game than Hull (46.7%), an energetic ball winner in the heart of midfield is essential. Diamé is evidently performing this task with aplomb and shows no signs in slowing, highlighted in that he has played the full 90 minutes in 4 of his 5 Hull appearances in the league this term despite starting the campaign on the fringes at Upton Park.
What is important for a player in his position, however, is that he does not give up once he wins possession back for his team. The summer signing has proven his goalscoring exploits and allowing him a license to press forward has aided Hull significantly this term. An example of this was to drag Hull level against Arsenal on Saturday, which came about from one of his runs from midfield, something that has become synonymous with the midfielder. This is the advantage of fielding Diamé in a three-man midfield with Jake Livermore and Tom Huddlestone.
The trio are disciplined enough to sit deep and let the opposition attack before winning the ball back. This then benefits Diamé, who, once Hull are back in possession, can then use his power and pace to steam forward with intent. When factoring in Huddlestone's range of passing and the inclination of Jelavic and Hernández to bring others into play, utilising Diamé's physical attributes and stamina to hurt the opposition is undeniably bringing out the best in the Senegal international, which in turn helps the Tigers.
While Hull are yet to really hit their stride this term having won just 2 of their 8 league games, Diamé has excelled in his 5 starts for the Tigers. As the season draws on, the summer arrival will play a crucial role in bettering their 16th-placed finish from last term as Hull strive to consolidate their position in England's top tier.