Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Mustafi, Gibbs, Ozlade-Chamberlain, Coquelin, Walcott, Ozil, Iwobi, Sanchez
Subs: Ospina, Monreal, Gabriel, Elneny, Lucas, Welbeck, Giroud
A scruffy and workmanlike performance saw Arsenal take 3 points from Hull City thanks to Alexis Sanchez’s first half goal and late penalty. It was far from a sublime performance, but it was enough to secure 3 points.
Arsenal endeavoured to take the game to Hull in the early stages as little bit of early pressure lead to Francis Coquelin sending a volley from outside the box bobbling tamely into touch for a goal kick.
After a brief spell of nothingness, a sloppy pass dispatched by the blubbery form of Tom Huddlestone seemed to have given Arsenal an opening. However, between them, Mesut Ozil and Alex Iwobi conspired to spurn the chance to take the lead. From the following midfield exchanges, Coquelin sent Alexis through but our Chilean sulky-pants shot weakly at the keeper.
Soon after, a moment of complacency in midfield from Iwobi gifted the ball to Markovic, who ploughed his way upfield and into the penalty box to deliver an incredibly welcoming ball across Petr Cech’s goal area. Luckily, Niasse was a split second behind the play and failed to capitalise on the opening. Arsenal probably should have been a goal down.
There were no signs of a tight, cagey affair as the game started to get very open. A long diagonal ball sent Grosicki away down the left and his inviting cross was met by Niasse who forced Petr Cech into a smart, if somewhat routine save, at his near post.
Moments later, Arsenal spurred two glorious openings. First Bellerin exchanged passes in the area with Walcott before firing wide when he should have hit the target. Almost instantly after, Alexis Sanchez found himself in possession 10 yards from goal only to uncharacteristically bobble the ball wide of the target.
Another chance for Arsenal came on 25 minutes just as there was something of a lull in the game. Alexis chipped a ball into the penalty area for the on-running Ozil who couldn’t quite keep his shot under control. It was a tough chance.
Hull’s goal continued to live something of a charmed life as Walcott’s shot towards goal was blocked by Hull’s defender to a few hopeful cries of handball. At this stage, all the attacking play was from Arsenal and a goal before halftime seemed to be on its way.
And it most certainly was. Good work from Iwobi and Ozil fed to ball to Gibbs. His half-volley was blocked on the line. In the ensuing melee, Alexis bundled the ball over the line after a few ricochets and what appeared to be an unintended handball – one of those were the ball hits the player at close range. You could argue it was a little unfortunate for Hull, but the goal had been coming and there was certainly no intent from Alexis having watched the replays. (1-0)
There was little of note from that point onwards and Arsenal headed into the break with a deserved lead. It was time for a cup of tea, some spaghetti hoops on toast (such decadence) and for me to adorn a glorious pair of masculine slippers. My feet were cold. Don’t judge me.
The 2nd half began almost immediately with yet another injury concern for Arsenal as Coquelin went down in a central area having both jarred his thigh in a challenge and received a kick to the knee for his troubles. It looked like he was going to have to come off with Mohamed Elneny intensely warming up, but Coquelin was able to run it off.
Hull started the brighter of the two teams. Markovic again broke clear, this time selling Koscielny a dummy and feeding the ball into Niasse. His first-time shot was powerfullly directed towards the bottom left corner and required an excellent stop from Cech to keep it out.
Walcott picked up the first yellow card of the game thanks to some bizarre histrionics. He felt he’d either deserved a foul or a corner after a tussle with Harry Maguire and promptly chucked the ball towards the touchline official whilst doing a bit of snarling. Roar!
Mere moments later, Kieran Gibbs went into the book having barged the dangerous Markovic in the back when it looked like he might be able to break clear. Some might say it was a clear goalscoring opportunity, but Hull’s forward was some 30 yards from goal and hardly had the ball under control. Yellow card the correct decision.
Arsenal began to look a bit more dangerous. Iwobi danced around the penalty area before receiving a returned back heel pass from Mesut Ozil. He aimed for the top corner in an attempt at a Bergkamp-esque finish, only to see it go both high and wide.
Soon after, Iwobi himself back heeled his way out of trouble in the Arsenal half and sent Oxlade-Chamberlain scampering down the left side. He fed Alexis who attempted to slot Walcott into a clear attempt at goal, but his pass was easily thwarted by Robertson.
Worryingly for Arsenal, Markovic found himself again in space down our flanks and his attempted at a cut-back was expertly read by the ever-reliable Laurent Koscielny. However, the space afforded to the on-loan Liverpool man was poor from a defensive point of view.
As the game approached the 70 minute mark, Arsenal seemed caught between defending a lead and pressing forward to extend it. Hull looked the more likely of the two teams to score.
Arsene Wenger moved to freshen things up as the largely uninvolved Theo Walcott was replaced by Mohamed Elneny in what looked like a decision to tighten the defence and hold on for the 3 points. He slotted in alongside Coquelin and The Ox, who’d put in a good display centrally, was switched to the right side.
Heading into the final 15 minutes, there was a nervy air about the stadium as Arsenal’s desire to get forward and score the second appeared to have diminished entirely. Alexis tried to get things moving and received a yellow card for simulation, which was, in fairness, the correct decision from the referee.
Into the final 10 minutes, Arsenal still found themselves chasing Hull as the away side enjoyed a 5 minute spell of 77% possession. With gaps opening as Hull pressed forward for the equaliser, Arsenal made a double substitution with Welbeck and Lucas coming on for The Ox and Iwobi in hope they could exploit the space and get the team further up the pitch.
Even from the TV, you could sense a palpable tension in the ground as the players continued to allow Hull to come onto them. Arsenal managed to exchange a few passes around Hull’s penalty area, but the attack was repelled by some world-class flapping from The Tigers’ keeper.
As Arsenal broke away from a Hull corner, Alexis was set free down the left thanks to an Ozil pass and crossed for Lucas. His goal-bound header was stopped on the line by the arm of Clucas who was red carded. Sanchez stepped up to convert the penalty and fired it comfortably down the middle into the net. Job done for Arsenal and 3 points secured. (2-0)
The final whistle blew on a decent, if somewhat unconvincing display. That said, given the results of the previous week, 3 points is all that mattered and a win was important heading to Bayern next Wednesday.