Kilbane is hoping for lucky 13 as Town head to Emirates

THE N5 district of London has, down the years, been a less than happy hunting ground for Kevin Kilbane.

In 12 previous visits to either Highbury or the Emirates Stadium, the Republic of Ireland international has been on the losing side 11 times. Not only that, but the one exception to that miserable run came when Kilbane was an unused substitute as Sunderland claimed a 2-2 draw more than a decade ago.

The defeats have come in not only the colours of Hull City, Wigan Athletic, Everton and the Black Cats but also the emerald green of the Republic with Giovanni Trapattoni's side having lost 2-0 to Brazil at the Emirates in March last year.

It is, by any standards, an underwhelming record, though one that the 33-year-old quite rightly points out is hardly exclusive to him thanks to the success that Arsenal have enjoyed since Arsene Wenger took charge in September 1996.

Whether tomorrow will prove to be a lucky 13th visit to Arsenal for Kilbane remains to be seen but with bookmakers SkyBet offering a price of 14-1 on a Huddersfield Town win it seems a long shot.

Despite that, the Preston-born midfielder is as excited about the prospect of running out at the Emirates Stadium as any of his younger team-mates who will be making their first visit.

He said: "The Emirates Stadium is a special place, a really great stadium. It is probably one of the best in the country and I am looking forward to going there as much as anyone.

"We know it will be tough as Arsenal are one of the best sides in the country. They have got so many great players and that means there is no chance of us going there over-confident. We totally respect what Arsenal are about and how good they are.

"They have not won much lately but I think that will change soon. They have built a really good squad and are already through to the Carling Cup final. Arsene Wenger has so many options through his team that there is no way we can concentrate on just one individual or anything like that. They are a wonderful side.

"The league is our priority so this is a game where we go in with no pressure. We can play without the shackles on and look forward to the match.

"We want to enjoy ourselves, though also making sure we don't go in there too relaxed. If a team relaxes too much, it can lead to them getting punished. We will go there and give them respect."

As for his unenviable record at Arsenal – Kilbane joined Hull just a couple of months after their stunning 2-1 victory at the Emirates Stadium in 2008 – the Terriers on-loan playmaker said: "It is right to say I don't have the best of records, either there (the Emirates) or at Highbury.

"In all my visits, I have only drawn one game with the rest being lost. But I am not alone in that and I am sure if you ask anyone from outside the top four of the Premier League, their record will be similar."

Kilbane arrived at the Galpharm Stadium earlier this month after Damien Johnson, on loan from Plymouth Argyle, had been ruled out for the season through injury. Lee Clark, mirroring his transfer strategy of last summer, was determined to bring in some experience and saw the international from Hull as an ideal replacement.

So far, Clark has not been disappointed. "I knew Kevin was a top player," said the Town manager ahead of this weekend's trip to the capital. "But the thing that stands out with Kevin is that he has come into this football club and been absolutely brilliant.

"He is a very humble, down-to-earth lad and his workrate on and off the pitch has been huge for us. To have someone of his experience – he is the record cap holder for the Republic of Ireland after all – is massive for us."

Kilbane's professionalism has long been the subject of praise from the various managers he has served during a career that recently passed the 500 league appearances mark.

He is also a decent person, as was underlined last season when Hull City's financial troubles were threatening the very future of the club.

Not only was he part of the squad's wage deferral, but Kilbane also made the admirable gesture of agreeing to split his (remaining) one-year deal into two years and halve his money to help the Tigers through what was an extremely difficult time.

Since then, however, Kilbane has fallen out of favour playing-wise at the KC Stadium – hence his switch to West Yorkshire earlier this month.

His current loan switch to the Terriers runs until the end of the season, after which he still has a year to run on his deal in the East Riding.

Asked as to where his future lies beyond May, Kilbane said: "Nothing has been said, either at Hull or Huddersfield. It is going to be tough to go back to Hull because the manager has let me go out on loan. If I was wanted that badly then I would not be here.

"I am here to do a job and I feel I have a lot to contribute to Huddersfield. This is a very ambitious club and I am really enjoying being here. The (4-0) defeat to Carlisle (in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy Northern Area final first leg) was a massive disappointment but, otherwise, things have gone well and we are well placed in the promotion race.

"In football, everyone wants things done yesterday but it is not always that easy. Having said that, Huddersfield Town are moving in the right direction and promotion is well within our grasp this season. We are aiming for the top two and that is why the Carlisle game (on Tuesday) is so important.

"It is a really quick turnaround, especially when you consider the number of games we have played since Christmas but we will be okay."

Before the first of two visits to the Galpharm Stadium by the Cumbrians on consecutive Tuesdays, Huddersfield have the less than trifling matter of Arsenal away.

The odds may be stacked against the Terriers but, says Kilbane, that was also the case for Leeds United who claimed a creditable draw at the Emirates in the third round.

He said: "I think we have to take heart from how Leeds did. We were in the same division as Leeds last season and more than matched them in two games.

"They haven't made too many changes since then so it shows what can be achieved. We have to remember that and make sure we are not overawed."

The big match: Arsenal v Huddersfield Town, FA Cup fourth round, tomorrow, noon

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