It’s not over yet for Arsenal; let’s focus on beating Hull
Match Preview: Arsenal vs. Hull – Premier League – 11.02.2017
Twelve points behind with fourteen games to go. It doesn’t look like it’s going to be Arsenal’s year but now is not the time to dissect our season. It has become a somewhat ridiculous trope but the postmortem of our season should be carried out at the end of the season. The pulse is faint but we’re not dead yet.
Hull are the visitors to the Emirates this weekend and despite being candidates for relegation the Tigers have been in good form. Tomorrow’s match is the early kick-off which is a chance for Arsenal to set the tone for the weekend’s fixtures. Tottenham and Liverpool will be facing off in the evening and any result can – for this week at least – be argued to be positive for Arsenal. Depending on the scores it is possible that Arsenal could be in second place again by late evening. It is for that reason I am not discounting Arsenal completely from the title race. It’s Chelsea’s to lose but that doesn’t mean we should give up trying. When Arsenal look furthest from the title is generally when their forms picks up so the Gunners are expected to win convincingly.
Chief among the concerns for Arsenal tomorrow is team selection. Bellerin rejoined training today after his nasty clash with Alonso at the weekend but may not pass a fitness test – or could be saved for Bayern as a precaution. Gabriel’s form at right back has been all over the shop this season and the Gunners may be better served starting a specialist right back like Jenkinson or Debuchy over the capricious Brazilian.
Options in midfield continue to be slim with Xhaka banned for one more match and Ramsey injured. Elneny just returned from the African Cup of Nations and could partner Francis Coquelin in midfield, although the manager may wish to continue giving Oxlade-Chamberlain experience in the middle-of-the-park where his authority and confidence is growing with each match.
Arsenal’s attacking players seemed to spend large swathes of the Chelsea match occupying similar areas, leaving huge gaps for the league leaders to exploit, so Arsène Wenger may opt for a more positionally disciplined front three. Alexis could move back to the left flank with Giroud providing a more static focal point for Arsenal’s attacks, creating space and opportunities for the Chilean and possible Lucas Perez on the opposite flank to take advantage of.
Cech; Bellerin, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal; Coquelin, Elneny; Perez, Özil, Alexis, Giroud.
I expect to see substitute appearances from Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott and Welbeck.
“We have a big fight in the Premier League, a big fight in the Champions League, with a big game coming up, and we still have the FA Cup as well” – Arsène Wenger
Last 3 Meetings
- Hull 1-4 Arsenal (17.09.2016)
- Hull 0-4 Arsenal (08.03.2016)
- Arsenal 0-0 Hull (20.02.2015)
Under new boss Marco Silva the Tigers have achieved some excellent results. In their last few outings in all competitions they’ve seen off Liverpool 2-0, kept United to a draw at Old Trafford, as well as beating Mourinho’s side 2-1 in the cup albeit losing on aggregate and acquitted themselves well in a 2-0 loss at Stamford Bridge. The appointment of Silva was met with scorn from the predictably xenosceptic football media however the Portuguese manager seems to have reinvigorated the squad. Watford should serve as a warning for Arsenal about not taking teams with shaky fortunes seriously enough.
- Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 13 meetings with Hull in all competitions (W11, D2).
- The Tigers could equal the club record of three consecutive clean sheets in the Premier League, set in October 2008.
- Arsenal have scored four goals in each of their past two games against Hull (one in the league, one in the FA Cup).
- Hull drew 0-0 at Arsenal in last season’s FA Cup fifth round, before losing in the replay.
- Arsenal have lost their last two Premier League games – they haven’t lost three in a row since January 2012.
- Head coach Marco Silva has earned seven points from his four Premier League games in charge, as many as Hull managed in their 18 games prior to his arrival.
- The Gunners have lost four of their last nine league matches.
- This will be Silva’s fourth meeting with one of the Premier League’s top six in his first five league games as Hull boss. His side have beaten Liverpool, drawn at Manchester United and lost at Chelsea.
- Alexis Sanchez has scored five goals in three league games against Hull.
- The Tigers have failed to score in 11 of their 24 league games this season – more often than any other Premier League side.
- Sanchez has 15 league goals this season, just one short of his best total for an entire Premier League campaign (2014-15).
- Hull have conceded 10 penalties in this season’s Premier League, the most in the top flight. The next highest is Arsenal with seven.
- Theo Walcott is one shy of 100 goals for Arsenal in all competitions.
Courtesy of Opta & BBC Sport.
4-0 to Arsenal. Walcott to get his century goal.
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