Arsenal: Szczesny, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Monreal, Gibbs, Flamini, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla, Alexis, Welbeck
Subs: Martinez, Ajayi, Coquelin, Arteta, Rosicky, Ramsey, Campbell
Arsenal had Danny Welbeck to thank for saving a point as they came from behind to draw 2-2 with Hull at the Emirates this afternoon.
Injuries and suspension meant that the Gunners fielded an unfamiliar backline with Hector Bellerin making his first Premier League start at right back with Nacho Monreal pressed into action at centre-half in the absence of Laurent Koscielny.
Jack Wilshere had the home side’s first chance of the game, heading an Alexis cross wide in the 5th minute. Hull responded as Michael Dawson headed at Szczesny while moments later Danny Welbeck stung the palms of Steve Harper with a fizzing shot from inside the box. Harper was called into action again shortly afterwards, claiming a low Oxlade-Chamberlain cross after a cute Cazorla nutmeg pass set him free down in the inside right channel.
The Hull keeper had to be on his toes as Arsenal continued to press, and he made a fantastic save from Cazorla as the Spaniard’s drive from distance headed towards the top corner. The pressure was intense and it paid off as we took the lead in the 14th minute.
Mertesacker won the ball high up the pitch, Alexis got down the right, stepped inside one challenge, into the box and rifled a shot into the bottom corner from a tight angle. 1-0.
It was almost two a couple of moments later when Oxlade-Chamberlain saw a shot blocked, instead the vistitors got a controversial equaliser. Diame went storming at the heart of the Arsenal defence, but pulled Flamini back in the process. The referee ignored the foul, Diame continued and finished from close range to make it 1-1.
The goal seemed to take a bit of the zip out of Arsenal’s play but Cazorla saw a shot blocked and another tame effort saved by Harper. The number 19 had a go with a free kick from a similar position that he scored from at Wembley in May, but this time his effort hit the top of the wall and deflected away.
Hull were forced into a change a few minutes before half-time as goalkeeper Steve Harper suffered a shoulder injury. He was replaced by Eldin Jakupovic in the 43rd minute but the substitute had little to trouble him before the teams went in level at the break.
Remarkably, it took just 31 seconds for the deadlock to be broken in the second period, but it was Hull who got the goal. A cross from the right hand side found Mertesacker too static, and Hernandez thumped home a header from close range to make it 1-2.
Arsenal struggled to fashion any kind of response with Hull sitting deeper, and weren’t helped by a period of careless passing and dribbling the ball straight out of play. When they did create an opening, as Oxlade-Chamberlain did for Cazorla, the chance was wasted.
Arsene Wenger made his first change in the 62nd minute, bringing on Aaron Ramsey for Mathieu Flamini as he tried to get his team back in the game. Jack Wilshere made a daft tackle, picking up a booking and an injury, and was taken off for Joel Campbell in the 69th minute.
Still though, the Gunners failed to threaten. The forwards were busiest defending with both Welbeck and Cambpell forced into making important tackles, before Hull descended into pure time-wasting – and why wouldn’t they? If it was frustrating for us, it was entirely of our own making being behind to a team we should be beating.
The second half performance was little short of abysmal from an Arsenal point of view, and that their sub keeper made his first save in the 86th minute, tipping over an Alexis free kick tells you everything you need to know about how we played.
But with 6 minutes of injury time put on the board, Arsenal found a way through. Alexis twisted and turned on the edge of the box, found Welbeck in some space and he finished from close range to make it 2-2.
Cazorla then saw a shot blocked and the rebound fell to Joel Campbell but on his right foot he failed to trouble the keeper. In the final throes of injury time, more great work from the tireless Alexis saw him find Gibbs at the back post, but the left back was stretching and couldn’t quite get enough on it to force the ball home.
That was that, and while the late goal salvaged a point, let’s not be under any illusions that this was anything other than dire from Arsenal today.