Hull City Preview: A Sequel Which Has To Be Better Than The Original

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In April, it will be a century since Arsenal last lost a match at Hull City. I assumed that it was at Boothferry Park but no, apparently their ground at the time was Anlaby Road. It certainly wasn’t the KC Stadium where they remain undefeated. That’s today’s boring fact out of the way, with fate tempted for good measure. Go the whole hog, that’s what I say.

The FA Cup remains Arsenal’s last chance for silverware, despite the protestations of the manager and contrary evidence of maths. Yes, there’s a ‘s’ in that one. Same as in ‘silverware’; those interesting facts keep tumbling out, don’t they. And in no way is that one boring either.

OK, so now I’m bored with where this one is going today. Understanding your thinking, Arsène; understanding your thinking.

Saturday’s point at White Hart Lane whilst not inducing a sea-change of opinions, has left Arsenal a little more positive. The players, according to Wenger, “will feel different”, more positive, particularly with the equaliser coming under duress. Those circumstances – reduced to ten men, two goals quickly conceded – were ripe for an Arsenal capitulation; it never happened and that genuinely was good news given the recent run of form.

It’s an attitude which has to continue this evening, even with changed personnel. Despite acknowledging the importance of winning the FA Cup for a third consecutive season, Wenger noted that he would be rotating the squad but aiming to keep the balance right.

His options are limited with Laurent Koscielny not likely to return before the trip to Catalunya. Petr Cech is out until after the international break whilst Francis Coquelin is suspended. None of the other walking wounded are any closer to a return either.

Personally, I would field the strongest XI possible. We’re hardly in a log-jam of fixtures with a normal break between Tottenham and this game, followed by a match on Saturday evening or Sunday afternoon. There’s no real pressure on the players in that sense.

But Arsène loves to tinker with his cup sides, doesn’t he. Some like Calum Chambers benefit from the outing although tonight will surely see him as a central defender with Wenger unlikely to risk both of his fit first choice centre backs. Gabriel’s English problems make him most likely to rest. It means Bellerin is likely to continue his duties on the right.

The question for Wenger is over his frontline. Alex Iwobi will come in for Özil but does he rest both Sanchez and Ramsey or is his plan to rope-a-dope with Theo Walcott leading the line? It’s a tough decision, not for the players whom he must omit, but to know which one of his strikers is likely to score.

Joel Campbell is the only one to have found the net in the last five games, an area which remains a concern. Walcott has one in the last sixteen games whilst Giroud hasn’t netted in the last eleven. Even allowing for substitute appearances by both, it’s a worrying record and underlining the continued desire for a consistent goalscorer to be signed.

Everyone accepts that there might be runs of three or four games when players don’t score, even those who top the scoring charts at the end of the season have barren patches. But that is astonishingly poor and with each passing minute, the pressure on both mounts.

It also means that in the likely XI, only Chambers, Walcott and Giroud have scored this year. Yes, I’m looking at you, the other seven outfield players. That’s the fundamental reason Arsenal need to find better goalscorers. As good as Giroud or Walcott are, their form this season – over the context of the whole campaign – makes them Plan B players. Substitutes to be brought on or rotated in for cup matches.

They don’t score frequently enough and in Giroud’s case, makes a mockery of those who trumpeted how good he was by hitting fifty Arsenal goals quicker than Henry. The problem both have is that when goals are in short supply, it is the forwards who come under the toughest scrutiny which rather lets the rest of the squad off the hook. All players need to be chipping in with goals through a season; full backs, centre backs, midfielders – even the defensive roles. It’s been a problem for a number of seasons and shows little sign of being resolved any time soon. Or any transfer window soon, I should say.

Tonight’s line-up then:

Ospina; Bellerin, Mertesacker, Chambers, Gibbs; Flamini, Elneny; Walcott, Iwobi, Campbell; Giroud

The ‘big guns’ will be kept on the bench, I think. Only to be used if it goes awry ought to be the mantra Wenger takes with him. Leaving out Ramsey means ageing actors can rest a little easier this evening; his 2016 cull is quite impressive.

It’s a vital match tonight. A genuine chance of silverware and with Watford in the next round, you sense a chance of a Wembley return is realistic, winning the trophy trickier than in previous years but eminently achievable. Hopefully Arsène and the players have the same view.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

270 thoughts on “Hull City Preview: A Sequel Which Has To Be Better Than The Original

  1. Moe says:

    Campbell on a plate for Walcott and he scores. Good for him.

  2. Bill says:

    C

    Henry should also be excited about Jeff getting a few minutes. Who says Arsene does not give his younger players chances? 😉

  3. C says:

    Theo a goal and assist!

    Still, that ball from Campbell brought a smile to my face and then Theo finished.

  4. Phil says:

    Excellent play.
    Great ball Campbell, and Theo is back.

  5. Jonny says:

    Some of Campbell’s assists this season have been top, top draw.

    Great finish too – very Henryesque, once again.

  6. Moe says:

    Ramsey didn’t warm up, same as Walcott versus Sheffield Wednesday when he got injured.

  7. Ras says:

    Superbe cross ball by Campbell. Equally well dispatched by TW.

    Still not a lover of his game and what he brings besides the occasional goal.

  8. C says:

    @Bill

    Arsene didn’t have a choice. No point risking Ozil or Sanchez.

  9. Phil says:

    Maybe Theo should wear the armband all the time.

  10. Bill says:

    C

    What’s the difference. A chance is a chance irregardless of why it happens.

  11. C says:

    Our best play today has come from Campbell, Iwobi and the effectiveness of Elneny in midfield.

  12. Wavey says:

    So it looks like Calum will be CB for Sunday. Who is playing alongside him?

  13. Ras says:

    Awobi showing he can more than hold his own. If he continues to progress and is able to add a few goals to his game he’s going to be top draw.

  14. Wavey says:

    Wenger said in his press conference that he thought he might be short for the weekend Phil. Bet he rushes him back now which is dangerous.

  15. C says:

    Theo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    That’s what he brings when he has a confidence.

  16. Jonny says:

    I fancy Per will be just fine for the weekend.

  17. C says:

    Elneny with anoth tackle won and another clearance.

    Fuck, Theo and Giroud needed this

  18. Ras says:

    Goalie beaten at his near post by a deflection. Once again Iwobi with the run and assist.

    The kid can run all night.

  19. Phil says:

    Thanks Wavey,
    Jonny, you are probably right, unless he has some concussion,

  20. Bill says:

    C

    I have not watched the entire game but Giroud scoring twice and Walcott breaking his drought seem like the most positive things that have come from today. Look at those numbers in your posts from this morning. It’s nice that Iwobe, Campbell and Elneny played well but goals from the CF position at the big news flash as far as any potential for future results,.

  21. Phil says:

    Ospina did his job,
    Flamini was disciplined and did his too.
    Elneny was good again
    Csmpbell gets a tick
    Iwobi was encouraging.
    Yes, only Hull, but job done.

  22. Jonny says:

    Ian Wright changes his opinion more often than feckin’ Hillary.

  23. Moe says:

    Bet Campbell gets dropped next match.

  24. SV says:

    Technically, physically, tactically we can not be sure yet about Elneny.

    But there is one striking difference between him and his team mates.

    He is a no nonsense player.

    His passing is simple and fast, his kicks the ball out when needed, he shoots. It’s refreshing.

  25. Finnish Hit says:

    It’s always seriously interesting to see how teams cope when they have to make-shift, like we really, really had to tonight.

    Chambers was impressive with a cool head and taking important steps in leading a defence, and Nacho was his usual reliable, all-purpose hand. Gibbs strong again, Flamster a believable right-back now, this time in our history. Ospina taking a reliable safe hands role.

    Midfield stayed solid despite the three unplanned, unfortunate changes.

    And the attack, well, nice to see that the complainers on this site didn’t get what they feared.

  26. Jerry says:

    After Spurs another good performance away from home.Great support from the away fans…I bet the players love playing away from the “toxic” fans,and I use the term loosely at The Emirates” good stuff..

  27. Paulie Walnuts says:

    Decent performance in the end & most importantly both strikers got a couple of goals.

    I thought Iwobi was particularly impressive & Campbell & Elneny were both excellent.

    Unless Per had concussion he should be OK for Sunday & we’ll need him against Deeney & Ighalo.

    The big question is who will partner him. Does he risk Kos or go with Chambers or even Nacho.

  28. Moe says:

    Yep Chambers was really good. Think he will be a really great CB after a few years.

  29. C says:

    Job well done. Our strikers finally scored, Elneny looked good in midfield, Campbell and Iwobi continues to impress. Giroud and Theo score.

  30. Bill says:

    Who wants to take bets how long it will take Santori to sign on so he can say I told you so?

  31. C says:

    @Bill

    No doubt that Giroud and Theo each getting a brace is massive. Campbell and Elneny playing well and continuing to play well is just as key giving that others have struggled and Le Coq suspended and Ramsey getting injured today.

  32. Moe says:

    Finnish Hit

    Well if not scoring goals and potentially losing is what some of us feared then i’m definitely glad we didn’t get that.

  33. Moe says:

    Wenger on the banner: “Just wait until the end of the season to judge us.”

  34. Moe says:

    Ian Wright doesn’t even know what fence he should be on.

  35. dukey says:

    C,

    Who needed Theo’s goals more? Theo or the doubting Thomas;es. the doubters will get on his back once again when he hasn’t scored in 4 games.

    Love this place now when its 0-0…the moaning and nagging is of old granny in a post office queue proportions.

  36. C says:

    @Bill

    I hope he does sign on because he called mr delusional and stupid before the Spuds match because I said Elneny is more than capable and would be fine against Spuds and moving forward. Elneny has put in another good to really good performance both defensively and in playing the quick ball forward to start the transition. Funny that given Elneny led the team with I think 10 interceptions against Spuds and then today he was constantly closing space, making interceptions and when on a yellow for the better part of 50 plus mins.

  37. C says:

    @Dukey

    To be honest, both. Theo really needed the goals and assist for his confidence and the doubters to remember on for and with confidence he has a role to play.

    The thing with Theo is that he does go invisible for stretches of the match and it is infuriating as a Theo guy.

    Hopefully he can use this as a springboard and go on one of his goal scoring runs.

  38. Moe says:

    Dukey

    Naturally when he doesn’t contribute to the team and literally every facet of his game except the occasional goal, is shite, then criticism is fully warranted. Doubting a player for not contributing the team is also natural and justified or should we accept mediocrity? Let the players play badly and just be happy about it and not point it out?

    And the performance was shite up until that point and every criticism was directed at things players did, nobody’s making anything up, just pointing things out that are actually happening in the game.

  39. C says:

    Arsene said Mert had a slight concussion and Gabriel’s wasn’t bad but when asked about Ramsey he said he was the worst of the three. You know what that means, he is out for some weeks.

  40. C says:

    Against Watford

    Ospina
    Bellerin—–Mert—–Chambers—–Nacho
    ————-Elneny——-Iwobi
    ————–Ozil———
    Campbell——-?———–Sanchez

    Fuck the Barca match.

  41. Wavey says:

    Nice dig at the end. Nothing quite like crowing over your fellow supporters.

  42. andy1886 says:

    It’s one of the funny things about the game, one day you can play really well and lose. On another you can be pretty poor for most of the match and win easily. Better the latter I suppose.

    Hopefully Per will be fit for the weekend. It’d be really unfortunate to win through tonight and them be unable to field a decent side at the weekend.

  43. Wavey says:

    Andy

    Can always guarantee finding someone to say I told you so when the players turn their game around. Don’t you just love it.

    Dukey

    We’ve been saying for some time that the players needed to turn around their run of form and it is no surprise that they were getting grief for not performing. This ended up being the perfect game for both of them to get back in the saddle. Hopefully it means that they have their mojo back and that this is the start of scoring runs for both of them. It doesn’t change the woeful performances beforehand from both and I understand that they were both completely out of sorts in the first half (I didn’t see the first 45 mins).

  44. Columbus Arsenal (MA) says:

    The moaning and whining is a product of the same old shite by the club, Dukey. I’m all for giving praise where and when it is merited. The same can be said about the moaning and complaints when it is also merited. There have been performances this season where the club and players really don’t appear to give a shit. That is not to confuse my own sense of entitlement as a fan about expecting to win every match, then I’m the dick.

  45. consolsbob says:

    Duke? Answered pretty well, I would say.

  46. YW says:

    Full strength XI on Sunday will be needed otherwise we’ll be out, I’d say.

  47. YW says:

    Bloody hell, aDuke. He’d score once since December, his performances warranted the criticism. Yes, it’s good Theo got a couple but like Giroud, they aren’t good enough to lead our line every week. We need consistent goalscorers which we certainly don’t have.

  48. dukey says:

    Well I agree if Giroud doesn’t now go on to score the goals to fire us to the title then there would be no point in going into next season with him as our no 1 striker.

  49. Moe says:

    It amazes me that fear of what might happen post Wenger is so powerful that some are paralysed by it. In that case, we should never appoint another manager,ever. Too risky.

    And then we have actual managers coming out with:

    Steve Bruce on criticism of Wenger: “Maybe these so-called idiots who want change, when they get it they may rue it for evermore.”

    But why? When is it not enough? That’s the big question. If Arsene wins the league fantastic, he will have proven many wrong. But if this goes on for two more years of his contract, how can someone sit there and be happy with top 4 and maybe an FA CUP.

    Ambition.

    That’s the word, ambition, ambition demands risk, otherwise every club that has ever existed would have stagnated and been happy with what they have.

    In life you can be grateful for what you have, but you also want to improve, be better even if that means there is a risk of failure.

    What is the point of it all if your ambition is not to win the league? It amazes me that fear of what comes next is even an excuse for keeping a manager. If there is a better manager who they think can do better? Get him!

  50. Bill says:

    I am not sure what would have made anyone think that Giroud’s 4th season as our lead striker would be any different then the first 3. However, may be today will help start him back to the right direction since we desperately need him to be scoring.

  51. dukey says:

    Bill,

    I think Giroud had something like 19 goals in 26 games last season(all comp). he has improved slightly every year, as he did for his previous clubs , no reason to think he couldn’t improve more this year. ill be judging him in may. if he goes missing again now in the run in then quite frankly he would not deserve to be the no 1 striker next term.

  52. Jonny says:

    He isn’t ever going to be good enough IMO. Even with the best chance creator in Europe pulling the strings his return has stagnated when it should have soared..
    Spent most of the game in entirely the wrong areas of the pitch. Yes he got two goals but it’s almost impossible to imagine why he is still getting the basics wrong with such frequency and why is incapable of being more clinical.
    He’s a solid number 2 but we simply have to do what it takes to try and find someone better.

  53. Bill says:

    Dukey

    Those numbers seem a bit to good to be true Dukey but what was frustrating about last season is Giroud came from injury playing really well for about 12 -15 games and then he just stopped scoring again for no reason again in the last 7-8 games. He was so bad that Arsene had to drop him for the last couple games and the FA cup final. How many teams are going to win big trophies when they have to drop their lead striker for the FA cup final?

  54. Pete the Thirst says:

    Good finishing from Giroud & Walcott tonight, but let’s not go overboard. The two have been playing like a pair of pub forwards since the New Year.

  55. Pete the Thirst says:

    @jonny a solid number 2! Excellent imagery!! ?

  56. Bill says:

    Giroud is what he is and that probably won’t change for someone who is 29 years old. He will score about 15 league goals a year most of them during a 12 -15 game hot streak but he will follow the hot streak with a similar run of poor performances. It’s hard to imagine Arsenal taking the next step as a team when you have to drop your league striker because of poor play for arguably the biggest league game we have played in several years last weekend at White Hart Lane.

  57. C says:

    We have struggled but as a club and the performances on the pitch BUT today isn’t the day to get into discussions like this though they would be warrented. Lets enjoy what is a much needed result with our strikers getting goals that will hopefully be a springboard for the rest of the campaign.

    Lets enjoy the performances of Campbell, Iwobi, Elneny and Chambers who will all play a part in some form or fashion until the end of the campaign.

  58. buckagh says:

    SV@21:02
    Elneny tactically, and technically, he is better than good, once he is up to speed physically, he will be a key player,and in my view will be ahead of Le Coq

  59. Moe says:

    Wenger on banner asking him to leave: “Look at the history of the club. I have nothing to be sacred of.”

    He knows it doesn’t matter what happens, he is never being sacked. And to me this pretty much confirms he will be here until his contract ends.

    Would love that kind of job security.

  60. C says:

    Yaya came off the bench and got a red card for Charlton. Read reports it was an overly heated match with rash challenges all over the pitch. Apparently Yaya came on and during a free kick tussle elbowed an MK Dons player and saw red. The MK Dons manager is calling for Yaya to be banned for the season.

  61. Damon says:

    Nice win and really hoping that both Theo and Giroud have monkeys off their backs and start free flowing again in front of goal. To be fair, it always had to end. Both players are better than going a quarter of a league season without scoring in consecutive games. It’s actually incredible

    Sukey

    You say if we don’t win the league then that’s it for Giroud as the main man? I tend to agree with Bill and Jonny. He will never be good enough and after three seasons of similar output, do we really expect him to remarkably improve? I say no too

    My worry is that I can see a scenario whereby he goes on one of his hot runs from here to seasons end, helping us to a disappointing second place finish in the table. Then the stats come out saying he’s marginally improved year on year, people will say he’s in the form of his life, if’s and buts and we go again. Which would be another big mistake

  62. andy1886 says:

    The defence will be key on Sunday. Although Watford haven’t been scoring freely recently Ighalo and Deeney have enough to worry a makeshift CB pairing. I hope Arsene sees sense over the Barca game, if we sacrifice the Cup and risk our league prospects against Everton for the sake of a lost cause in the CL then I’ll be questioning his sanity.

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