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An Unnecessary Extra Fixture But The Treble Is On

Match Review: Arsenal 0 Hull City 0 - FA Cup 20.02.16

After such a huge high last Sunday, we were brought back down to earth on a drab Saturday. It should have been a routine win, but a rotated team put in a lacklustre performance against an ultra defensive Hull side. It adds an unwelcome extra fixture to our busy calendar and the game at the KC will not be easy at all.

The game was pretty lifeless all the way through, with the first half coming down to two penalty appeals being turned down. The first was actually a rare correct decision from Arsenal’s arch nemesis Mike Dean. The egotistical, clueless weirdo who handed Chelsea three points against us earlier in the season, yellow carded Hull’s Maguire for a pathetic dive in the area. However, the mighty Mike Dean giveth and he taketh away, as later in the half he turned down a very strong appeal for an Arsenal penalty when Welbeck was bundled over in the box. The defenders made no contact with the ball and plenty of Welbeck to stop him getting to the ball, so for me it was a penalty.

The second half was all Arsenal, but we lacked bite. Danny Welbeck was the only player that I thought could provide a breakthrough and he was taken off about twenty five minutes before the end. The closest we came was through a Joel Campbell free kick that was turned onto the post by the Hull keeper. Aside from that we failed to create clear chances and Hull were able to sit back and soak up the pressure.

arsenal fa cup theo walcott

With the likes of Ramsey and Özil not in the squad, there was little cavalry to bring on too and even worse, Alexis came off the bench to put in one of his worst performances in an Arsenal shirt. He’s been struggling since he came back from injury, but on Saturday he was truly appalling, making terrible decisions, misplacing passes and shooting wildly off target. I know he’s a match winner but we can’t afford to be carrying players, especially as there is little margin for error over the finish to the season. We need the Alexis of last year back as he could propel us to league and cup glory. As it is we’re sorely missing his goals and assists.

I appreciate it was a difficult balancing act for Wenger with his selection, but in hindsight, I think we could have used a more attacking midfielder to partner Elneny or Flamini. I think maybe Chamberlain could have started there, because Elneny is more of a deep lying distributor, not so much a creative midfielder. Flamini is…well, he’s Flamini and you never know what madness you’re going to get with him. Elneny did a good job as a distributor, keeping it simple and recycling possession, but he doesn’t burst forward and make the killer attacking passes that a player like Ramsey or Wilshere would. He’s more of an Arteta and as such, needs a more explosive attacking midfielder to complement him.

With Man City, Liverpool and Tottenham all having exited the cup, it does look like it’s opening up for us again. Chelsea and United remain in the competition, but we know now that the earliest we can face one of them would be in the semi final at Wembley. The winner of our replay with Hull will face Watford at home, meaning we won’t have to visit Stamford Bridge or Old Trafford this year.

I’ll admit, we’ve had nice draws so far this year and maybe it makes up for some of the really nasty ones we’ve had in the past. But although we’ve had a lot of home ties over the last few years, we haven’t had the trophies handed to us. In 2014 we had to get past Sp*rs, Liverpool and Everton to make it to Wembley and although we faced them at the Emirates, they were all in good form at the time and we put in great performances to beat them. It’s also not our fault that City fluffed their lines at home to Wigan and both the semi final and final were tough tests. 2015 was a little easier in the opening rounds, but the big test was at Old Trafford and we came through thanks to another magic moment from Welbeck. Again, City and Chelsea got knocked out by lower league opposition before we had a chance to face them and we can only beat what’s in front of us. Hopefully we can get the job done in the replay and stay on course for a historic FA Cup treble.


Arsenal (4-2-3-1)
Ospina, Chambers (Y), Mertesacker, Koscielny (Y), Gibbs, Flamini, Elneny, Welbeck (Alexis 67’), Iwobi (Chamberlain 73’), Campbell (Giroud 67’), Walcott
Macey, Bellerin, Monreal, Alexis, Chamberlain, Giroud, Coquelin

Hull City (5-3-2)
Jakupovic, Maguire (Y), Bruce (Y), Davies, Elmohamady, Tymon (Odubajo 55’), Taylor (Huddlestone 55’), Meyler, Maloney (Y), Powell (Aluko 78’), Diomande
Kuciak, Odubajo, Huddlestone, Aluko, Robertson, Diame, Hernandez

Player Ratings

Ospina - 6/10 - Didn’t have to do much, but still managed to have some nervous moments
Chambers - 7/10 - Mostly solid, but clearly his future is at centre back
Mertesacker - 7/10 - Solid
Koscielny - 6/10 - I’m finding it hard to trust him at the moment, looks nervy all the time
Gibbs - 6/10 - Not fantastic, not terrible, a pretty mediocre showing
Flamini - 6/10 - I can confirm he did play in this football match, didn’t achieve much though
Elneny - 8/10 - Looks a very tidy player, I imagine he’ll need to bulk up a bit in the summer though
Welbeck - 7/10 - Effective down the flanks, should have had a penalty
Iwobi - 6/10 - Early flashes, but tried to be too clever as the game went on
Campbell - 7/10 - A decent showing, very reliant on his left foot though
Walcott - 6/10 - Going up against three CBs didn’t help, didn’t give us much though
Giroud - 6/10 - We didn’t really take advantage of his height and presence really
Alexis - 4/10 - Alarmingly poor, decisions were horrendous and his passing was woeful
Chamberlain - 6/10 - Did have much time, but didn’t bring any impetus to the attack

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Tags: Match Review, FA Cup, Match Report, Arsenal vs Hull

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