Match Preview: Hull City vs. Arsenal

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Date: Saturday 17th September
Location: KCOM Stadium, Kingston Hull
Competition: English Premier League
Kick-Off:  15:00 BST

 

A few weeks into the season and Arsenal are holding onto 7 out of 12 available points. After the loss in the opening game to Liverpool, and a lucky draw with Leicester City (with the no penalty call on Bellerin), Arsenal are on a back to back winning streak in the Premier League. The midweek draw in Paris will give the squad a few positive pointers in hopes of making it 3 wins in a row come Saturday afternoon.

Looking at the provisional squad on Tuesday night Arsenal fans had mixed emotions, a few questioning the picking of Ospina ahead of Cech, while others remember that it is Arsene Wenger’s method to rotate keepers in the opening stages of the European Championship. However, the change gave Ospina a morale boost and Petr Cech more resting time despite the trip to the French capital. In the center back pairing of Koscielny and Mustafi we could sense that the two players are still finding the chemistry needed between them to start earning the Arsenal essential clean sheets in the upcoming fixtures. The resting of Xhaka gave Francis a much needed time to get back to where he left off last season, at the top of our defensive midfield role. Whereas for Iwobi who had a very effective game despite missing a chance to seal the 3 points fully for the squad, the young promising Nigerian seems to be a most exciting prospect on deck. Resting Theo Walcott and Lucas Perez might sound reasonable despite the fact that Oxlade was nowhere near the form needed to be a starter in an Arsenal jersey. Finally, on the formation from Tuesday night, the benching of Giroud might have just cost him to lose his temper yet again and getting himself sent off despite his role in alternating the game and giving Alexis and Iwobi more space to create the equalizer after a perfect pass from Mesut Ozil. What was really positive is that Arsenal came back with a point and managed to up their game in the second half of the game away from home.

The Gunners will now face a challenge away from home at the realm of the Tigers, but it is clear that Wenger would want to focus fully on the Premier League this season so it is most probable that Alexis will return to the Left Wing, with Lucas Perez as the lone striker. Iwobi might be favored to start given Theo’s injury reports, unless Ramsey is injected back into the team. Xhaka will be by Santi Cazorla’s side and Ozil ahead of the two, as for the back four no necessary changes will be required, but Nacho will need to up his game this weekend, and with Peter Cech back in goal it will be safe to go for a clean sheet.

The last encounter between Hull and Arsenal was a 2 legged 4th round encounter in the FA Cup, the first leg ended in a goalless draw, despite 11 shots on target from the Arsenal. Then the second leg ended 4-0 for Arsenal with a brace for each of Giroud and Walcott. Hull City were busy over the transfer window this summer, they brought in goalkeeper David Marshall and England midfielder Ryan Mason on a club record fee, while also securing Mbokani from Dynamo Kiev and Markus Henriksen from AZ Alkmaar both players on a season loan. The team comes into the fixture having won over Leicester City in the opening game of the season, lost to Swansea and Manchester United and got a draw out of their latest game versus Burnley.

The stakes are high, and despite Arsenal being the obvious favorites, with a team as motivated and driven as Hull City the Premier League has thought us that no game is played on paper. The Gunners are in for a rough ride this Saturday. The main goal will be sealing a Clean Sheet and then securing the 3 points early on into the opening 20 minutes.

Finally, it might seem early to mention this, but Arsenal are finally blessed with a little bit of luck this year. An uncalled penalty versus Leicester City, a very soft penalty for the winner versus the Saints, and the Cavani blunders in Paris… maybe this year with a lot of consistency and a little bit of luck the Gunners would end up with a significant trophy or two.

Predicted score: Hull City 0 – 2 Arsenal (Perez and Giroud to score)
Unavailable: Mertesacker – Gabriel Paulista – Theo Walcott – Danny Welbeck – Sanogo – Ramsey – Jenkinson and Alexis Sanchez are all out with injury. There is a low probability that Ramsey might be on the bench.
Predicted XI: Petr Čech; Héctor Bellerín, Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal; Granit Xhaka, Santi Cazorla; Alex Iwobi, Mesut Özil, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lucas Perez.

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