Arsenal: Szczesny, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Flamini, Ramsey, Rosicky, Cazorla, Ozil, Bendtner
Subs: Fabianski, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Wilshere, Walcott, Giroud
Arsenal stayed top of the league with a well deserved 2-0 win over Hull City at the Emirates tonight. There were a number of changes from the team which beat Cardiff. Both full backs were replaced as Nacho Monreal and Carl Jenkinson came in, Mathieu Flamini and Tomas Rosicky were recalled in midfield in place of Jack Wilshere and Mikel Arteta, while the big surprise of the night was Nicklas Bendtner getting a start up front in place of Olivier Giroud.
It was a move which surprised many but the big Dane proved Arsene Wenger right by opening the scoring inside two minutes. Arsenal worked it down the right hand side, Carl Jenkinson fired a great cross in and Bendtner met it with a thumping header from the edge of the 6 yard box. 1-0, and what a return to the side.
Arsenal took control of the game from that point, probing around the Hull box relentlessly. Flamini, Ramsey and Rosicky all saw shots blocked and from a corner a Per Mertesacker header was cleared off the line. All this inside the first ten minutes.
Bendtner almost had a second in the 15th minute. Mesut Ozil took a shot from the edge of the box, the keeper stopped it at his near post but couldn’t quite hold it. The Dane came in on the run, took it away from him, but his touch was just too heavy and it ran out for a goal kick.
Arsenal’s number 23 then set up Santi Cazorla on the edge of the Hull area but his placed shot was always going wide, while Aaron Ramsey smashed a left footed shot over from a half cleared free kick. The Welshman then forced McGregor into a save with a turn and shot from the edge of the box.
Arsenal’s top scorer fancied a goal because moments later McGregor had to make a fantastic save to stop Ramsey doubling the lead. He picked the ball up about 25 yards from goal, hit it beautifully and it swerved towards then away from the keeper, but he got down well to push it around the post.
At the other end there were some warning signs for Arsenal to stay switched on when Tom Huddlestone fired a low ball right across the Arsenal six-yard box, and there was further danger when Chester headed wide from a Tigers corner.
Mesut Ozil had a chance late in the half to extend the Gunners lead. As Arsenal broke, Santi Cazorla played Bendtner down the right channel, he stood up a good cross but Ozil just couldn’t get over the ball and headed it wide. It meant that despite the home domination, they took just a one goal lead into the half-time break.
The second began much like the first for Arsenal … with an early goal. A good Arsenal move down the left hand side saw Monreal, Ramsey and Ozil involved. The German played it to Ramsey who cut open the Hull defence with a beautiful reverse pass which Ozil ran on to and finished at the near post. 2-0.
There were further early chances when Cazorla fired over after being set up by Ramsey, the Welshman himself saw a shot blocked at the near post and from the resulting corner Nicklas Bendtner’s header was headed off the line by Robbie Brady.
Cazorla then saw a left footed effort pushed away by McGregor, and then almost set up Bendtner with a tempting low cross from the right hand side which the Hull defence dealt with very well. A Laurent Koscielny mistake then set up a chance for Livermore but his shot from inside the box was straight at Szczesny, and Kriss Boyd headed wide after a good cross from the right by Sagbo.
Arsene Wenger then brought on Wilshere and Walcott for Bendtner and Rosicky as Hull began to find a little bit more possession in the game. Arsenal seemed content to let them have it, secure in their defensive ability, and only a last ditch tackle on Ozil from substitute Rosenior stopped another Arsenal goal.
Mikel Arteta replaced Aaron Ramsey for the last 10 minutes, and Wojciech Szczesny was lucky to get away with a very poor clearance which Monreal had to scurry back to take care of. With not long in the game to go and nothing to lose the visitors decided to go for it, pressing Arsenal high up the pitch. They had a lot of the ball but did little with it.
In the end Arsenal’s solidity saw the game out. Another accomplished performance, two good goals, three lovely points and we stay top of the league.