Hull City v Arsenal – Mount Pressure To Martínez’s Merseysiders
Arsenal face Hull City following a battling second half performance against West Ham in midweek, coming from a goal down to beat the East Londoners 3-1.
The result would certainly have boosted the confidence after just two domestic wins in nine. With Everton failing to capitalise against Crystal Palace on Wednesday, fourth place is now back in the Gunners’ hands.
Hull face Arsenal in the dress rehearsal of May’s FA Cup final. They twice came from behind to beat Sheffield United 5-3 at Wembley on Sunday afternoon, and will look to take points off the North London outfit at the KC Stadium – which they have done to Tottenham and Liverpool this season.
Hull’s biggest threat will be the prominence of January signings Nikica Jelavić and Shane Long, who have hit the ground running since £7m moves from Everton and West Brom respectively. Jelavić has scored four goals in 12 appearances since joining the Tigers and, even though he may not have scored as many as he’d liked, he has influenced the team with his link-up play alongside fellow forward Long and has been a pivotal part of Hull’s mid-table success.
Long, however, has scored three in 11 and also causes defences some problems with his runs. In the reverse fixture, Hull were undone 2-0 thanks to goals from Mesut Özil and Nicklas Bendtner. Can they upset their FA Cup rivals?
Arsenal face Hull City off the back of reaching the FA Cup final and regaining fourth spot following the victory over West Ham which preceded Everton’s defeat to Palace. Two goals from Lukas Podolski and a stunning finish from Olivier Giroud gave the Gunners a pivotal win in the race for the final Champions League berth.
Roberto Martínez claims his side are under “no pressure” despite being stunned by Palace at Goodison on Wednesday, in what was a must win game for the Toffees. They now face three tough fixtures which could define their season with Manchester United (H), Southampton (A) and Manchester City (H).
Arsenal face a Hull side who also reached the FA Cup final, despite a scare from League One’s Sheffield United, eventually coming out on top in an eight-goal thriller. With their most dangerous weapon the strike duo of Jelavić and Long up front, it means that a big game will be needed from Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny. The highly-anticipated return of Özil will be a huge factor if Arsenal are to win this game as well, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain should also be available after being rested against West Ham in midweek.
Arsenal will be boosted physically and mentally with their FA Cup triumph and Premier League success in the space of four days. The spate of results has seen the Gunners turn the corner from their recent poor form, and end their search for a first league win at the Emirates since beating Sunderland 4-1 on the 22nd of February. Can Arsenal pull four points clear of fourth for four hours at least with a win at the KC?
Jelavić and along are in contention to start having been ineligible to play in the FA Cup semi-final and Steve Bruce could recall son Alex Bruce to the backline.
For Arsenal, Özil could return having missed six weeks with a hamstring injury. Mathieu Flamini could feature after completing a two-match suspension and Nacho Monreal should recover from a dead leg.
I expect Hull to be bouncing and cause Arsenal problems with tricky strike duo, but I do think that the involvement of Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey and Özil will condemn Hull to defeat. Hull City 1-2 Arsenal.
Occasional writer who follows the Arsenal home and away. Dennis is our greatest ever.