Arsenal’s hope of winning the Premier League this season might have gone down the drain last weekend following the 3-1 loss to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, but the Gunners still have so much to play for this season as top 4 finish is likely to go through the wire with only 5 points separating Tottenham Hotspur in 2nd place and Manchester United in 6th.
The Gunners will welcome Hull City to the Emirates in Saturday’s early kick off on the back of successive defeats to Watford at the Emirates and at Stamford Bridge to pacesetters Chelsea, and will be seeking to return to winning ways by picking all the maximum points against The Tigers, who come to this fixture on the back of two impressive results against Manchester United and Liverpool respectively.
The Gunners have not won the Premier League title since 2003/04 and are unlikely to end their wait for the silverware this season, having fallen 12 points adrift of their London rivals, Chelsea.
The defeat at Chelsea has seen Wenger’s tactics and footballing philosophy come under fire yet again as the Gunners’ fans again flaunted their disappointment in the Frenchman for his rigidness to adopt a different philosophy when he ought to.
The Gunners will be without their gaffer on Saturday as the Frenchman still serves a 4-match ban he received in the controversial game against Burnley fortnight ago when he was sent to the stands for his enraged reaction after referee Jon Moss awarded Burnley a 93rd minute spot-kick but Wenger was so furious at the decision and ended up positioning himself in the tunnel when he was supposed to go to the stands and then petulantly pushing fourth official, Anthony Taylor, as the official tried to make him leave – which he eventually did.
Their Saturday’s visitors, Hull City’s last three and next two fixtures were and are against the top 5 of the top six teams in the table.
On paper, many would have easily predicted that the Tigers would pick no points from any of the fixtures, considering their horrendous form in the League this season and their position in the table prior to the congested and difficult fixtures.
However, a stalemate at Old Trafford against Manchester United and an impressive 2-0 win over Liverpool at KCOM Stadium last weekend have lifted The Tigers to 18th on the Log with 20 points, a point above both Crystal Palace and Sunderland on 19 points each in 19th and 20th positions respectively, and a point adrift of safety.
Albeit, The Tigers have lost 7 of their 9 fixtures against the top six teams this season, conceding a staggering 18 goals in the process and scored only 4, leading to the dismissals of both Steve Bruce and his successor, Mike Phelan, in the first half of the season.
Marco Silver took over the reign at the KCOM Stadium last month and has had a tremendously start to life in England. The Portuguese has overseen 4 Premier League Matches, recording 2 victories, a draw and a defeat.
Marco Silver’s men would definitely draw confidence from their last two EPL fixtures and would fancy their chances against the vulnerable Gunners when they visit the Emirates on Saturday.
Arsenal are the joint highest scoring team in the Premier League this season with 52 goals (the other team being Liverpool) but the Gunners have let in a disappointing 28 goals – only Manchester City (29) and Liverpool (30) have a poorer record than the Gunners amongst the top 7 teams.
Only Swansea City (54) have conceded fewer goals than Hull City (47) this season whilst Middlesbrough (19) are the only team to score the least goals than Hull City (22) this season, which implies that The Tigers are so criminal at the back and are not productive in front of goal either.
Arsenal will be without Debuchy, Carzola, Sanogo, Ramsey and Bellerin through injuries while Xhaka won’t be part of the team as well as the Swiss is suspended for the match following his marching order in the Gunners’ controversial win over Burnley at the Emirates.
Hull City will travel to London without some of their key players. The Likes of Brian Lenihan, Ryan Mason, Micheal Dawson, William Kean and Curties Davies will not be part of the action through injuries.
ARSENAL PREDICTED LINEUP 4-2-3-1 :
Cech; Gabriel, Kochielny, Mustafi, Monreal; Coquelin, Xhaka, Sanchez, Ramsey; Ozil, Walcott
HULL CITY PREDICTED LINEUP 4-2-3-1 :
Jakupovic; Elabdellaoui, Ranocchia, Maguire, Robertson; Huddlestone, Clucas, N’Diaye, Evandro; Grosicki, Hernandez
Arsenal’s last 5 EPL results
Hull City Last 5 EPL results
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With collective glory slipping and fading away, Alexis Sanchez will be desperate to consolidate in attaining an individual honour which is becoming the League’s top scorer this season. Having failed to score in his last 2 games for the Gunners, and with Everton’s Lukaku jumping over him on the scorers’ chart, the Chilean would be desperate to redeem his spot by adding to his existing 15 goals in the League this season.
Abel Hernandez would likely be the danger man to keep the Gunners’ back Four on their back foot all afternoon. The energetic Uruguayan will definitely be deployed alone upfront as The Tigers would predictably sit back and hope to catch the Gunners on the break just like they did against Liverpool last weekend.
After a shock 2-1 defeat at home to Watford and a 3-1 humiliation suffered in the hands of Chelsea, the Gunners would be desperate to swiftly put smiles on the faces of their angry fans, and with rivals playing later in the day and on Monday night respectively, a win against The Tigers will see them leapfrogging Manchester City in 3rd place, extending their lead to 4 points over Liverpool who is currently occupying 5th in the table, and tied on same points with their archrivals, Tottenham Hotspur, who currently sit 2nd, 3 points above the Gunners.
Arsenal 4 Hull City 0
Arsenal vs Hull City
English Premier League 2016/17
11th January, 1:30pm
Emirates Stadium, London