The FourFourTwo Preview: Arsenal vs Hull
Brazen Tigers stray into path of sharpshooting Gunners. Hmm.
It's half a decade since Geovanni's cracker set Hull on the way to a win at the Emirates; of the starting XIs, only Bacary Sagna, Theo Walcott and Paul McShane haven't moved on. Arsenal have certainly geared up, with their most realistic title tilt in years, and Hull are different: back in the big time under Steve Bruce, not the type to indulge in KC karaoke.
- Cardiff 0-3 Arsenal (Prem)
- Arsenal 2-0 Marseille (CL)
- Arsenal 2-0 Southampton (Prem)
- Man United 1-0 Arsenal (Prem)
- Dortmund 0-1 Arsenal (CL)
- Hull 3-1 Liverpool (Prem)
- Hull 0-1 Crystal Palace (Prem)
- Southampton 4-1 Hull (Prem)
- Hull 1-0 Sunderland (Prem)
- Tottenham 2-2 Hull (LC)
Bruce is too pragmatic to rely on beating the Gunners, but then he might not have expected to vanquish Liverpool. Hull have nothing to lose and a five-day rest before Monday's trip to Swansea; the question is whether they will retain the Mersey-beating back three, although it would surely be more of a back five against Arsenal.
Having won every home league game since that opening blip against Villa, Arsene Wenger's team appear to have lost the habit of dropping home points against teams they should beat: Sunderland, Fulham and Swansea last season, Wolves, Wigan and Norwich the season before.
Hull will be no pushovers but Arsenal are displaying an irresistible combination of defensive solidity (one goal conceded in five league games) and attacking flair: eight of their 10 league wins have been by two or more goals, and they have extra forward options returning to the fold all the time. How they all fit into a starting XI is a problem Wenger can address over time; Bruce will have to make rather quicker decisions to deal with subs like Theo Walcott.
Walcott's return from injury against Cardiff gives Wenger another option – and Bruce another reason to rue Curtis Davies's absence through suspension, thanks to the centre-back collecting his fifth yellow of the season in that win over Liverpool. Sone Aluko and Paul McShane are still out injured for the foreseeable, while recalled loanee Matty Fryatt isn't expected to figure just yet.
Player to watch: Tom Huddlestone (Hull)
Impressive all season, Huddlestone excelled in the 3-5-2 against Liverpool, both defensively (4 tackles, 3 interceptions, 12 ball recoveries) and with ball distribution (completing 33 of his 37 short passes).
Arsenal away may be a taller order for the former Spurs man but if Hull are to have a chance they need him on form and on the ball, sitting just behind the midfield – almost all the passes he receives are laid back to him – and dictating play.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Hull 1-2 Arsenal (Prem, Mar 10)
- Arsenal 3-0 Hull (Prem, Dec 09)
- Arsenal 2-1 Hull (FAC, Mar 09)
- Hull 1-3 Arsenal (Prem, Jan 09)
- Arsenal 1-2 Hull (Prem, Sep 08)
The former centre-backs have been squaring up since the last millennium, when Wenger offered Bruce's Sheffield United an FA Cup rematch after Kanu's ungentlemanly creation of Marc Overmars' winner.
Arsenal also won the 'replay', and including that game, Wenger has won 13 of their 19 meetings; Bruce has won twice, the first time being thanks to Walter Pandiani and Emile Heskey.
Facts and figures
- Hull have won just one of their last 30 Premier League away games (W1 D7 L22).
More facts at FFT's Arsenal vs Hull Stats Zone page
Tips and trends
TIPS & TRENDS
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- Since the start of the 2011/12 season, Arsenal have won five of six home fixtures against promoted clubs, winning the last three by three or more goals.
- No side has conceded fewer goals than the Gunners this season and only Manchester City have outscored the early season pace setters.
- Hull have failed to win any of their last 10 games at top-six sides, losing on seven occasions. Their last five away defeats to top-six opposition have been by three or more goals.
- Only Sunderland have picked up fewer points on the road than Hull this season.
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Arsenal win, by more than one goal.