On April 20th, Arsenal travel to the KC Stadium to take on Hull City. Arsenal have rebuilt some of their confidence with a win in the FA cup semi final and a win against West Ham. Hull are also on a two game winning run after a 1-0 win over Swansea and a 5-3 victory over Sheffield United in the other FA Cup semi final. Arsenal need to win for their Champions League ambitions. Hull, while they look safe already, another three points would pretty much seal their safety.
Arsenal’s injury problems have been well documented this season, but they could get a boost this week. Arsene Wenger has said that he may get Mesut Ozil back from injury if he passes a late fitness test. Nacho Monreal will also have a late fitness test. Kieran Gibbs will be out for at least another week while Jack Wilshere is a few weeks away from fitness. Theo Walcott, Abou Diaby, Ryo Miyaichi, and Serge Gnabry are all long term injuries. Hull will be without Alan McGregor, Robbie Brady, Paul McShane, and Joe Dudgeon who are all out with long term injuries.
This is the first time Arsenal travel to face Hull since March 2010. Arsenal and Hull have only played each other in Hull five times with Arsenal winning four and Hull winning one. Hull’s 40 goals conceded means they have the fifth best defensive record and have conceded one goal fewer than Arsenal. Hull have not beat Arsenal in Hull since 1915.
Arsenal’s key man to their success has been Aaron Ramsey and he is the key man for this game. Ramsey made his return the the starting lineup last week when he started against Wigan in the cup semi final. Ramsey has been vital to Arsenal’s squad this season because he one balances the midfield. Ramsey covers for other weaknesses in the midfield because of his offensive abilities along with his defensive work and the amount of running he can do. Ramsey also brings a big goal threat from the midfield. His goal threat is not something that Arsenal’s other players that play in Ramsey’s role (Wilshere, Arteta, and Flamini.) provide. Ramsey, along with Oxlade Chamberlain, can bring some pace to an Arsenal team devoid of pace at the moment. Aaron Ramsey was hugely missed and his return will be welcomed back by both the fans and Arsene Wenger.
Hull City’s main attacking threat will be on the counter and the pace of Shane Long will be key for them. Long arrived in January from West Bromich Albion. Long has bagged three league goals which still makes him the top scorer for Hull. Long’s pace and high workrate make him perfect for the counter attacking system that Hull have run this season. Long has created a great partnership with new signing Nikita Jelevic. The partnership has given Hull a rather strong strike force to help keep them up this season and help keep them up for seasons to come.
This game, like all of the last four league games, is a must win game for Arsenal. Arsenal are finally getting their top players back from injury and they have built some momentum and confidence to push them to the end of the season. Hull City are looking like they will be safe even if they end the season on this 36 point total they’re on now. Hull will be able to find motivation from the fact that they want to show they can beat this Arsenal side before they play them in that FA Cup final. In the end, while Hull will make it hard, I see Arsenal coming out of this with the needed win.